Bayer Collection

A collection of approximately 200 Chinese and other oriental books and manuscripts, including:

  • palmleaf books in Tamil and Telugu
  • notes on oriental history and philology
  • correspondence with the Jesuits in Peking

Originally collected by Theophilus (Gottlieb) Siegfried Bayer (1694-1738), sinologist and Professor of Greek and Roman Antiquities at St Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1726-1738), whose library was sold by his widow to Gerdes (1690-1741), a Lutheran pastor in London.

It was subsequently purchased from Mrs Gerdes by William Hunter (1718-1783) and incorporated into his collection. Under the terms of Hunter’s will, his library and other collections remained in London for several years after his death - for the use of his nephew, Dr Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) - and finally came to the University in 1807.

How to find material from the Bayer Collection

  • A preliminary catalogue of the Bayer papers was prepared by David Weston (2018) and an updated version (2022) is now availble: Bayer catalogue 2022. This includes some MS Hunter items relating to Bayer and items not currently listed online including palm leaf manuscripts. This catalogue supersedes the exisiting listing of a small part of the collection (predominantly letters) available on the main manuscripts catalogue under MS Hunter B. Please enquire in advance about research visits. Some items may be restricted for preservation reasons.
  • Nb. section 5 of the 'Bayer catalogue 2022', on Chinese and Manchu books, has now been superseded by David Weston's Chinese and Machu Books in the Hunterian Library, University of Glasgow.  
  • The following transcription by David Weston is also available to consult Evenki vocabulary from MS Hunter 211
  • See Knud Lundbaek,  T.S. Bayer (1694-1738) : pioneer sinologist London: 1986.