[Beauchamp-Proctor, William, British Navy officer (1781-1861). Dictionary of Egypt].

No place, ca. 1820.

8vo (144 x 224 mm). English manuscript in ink on blue paper. (2), 80 pp. on 295 ff. With one full-page illustration. Contemporary full calf with red morocco label to spine.


A fascinating relic from a seminal moment in the career of the British soldier Sir William Beauchamp-Proctor: this manuscript dictionary of Egypt includes many substantial discursive entries, shedding much light on knowledge of, and contemporary attitudes toward, early 19th century Egypt.

Unsurprisingly, many of the entries here are geographical in nature - place names, with brief descriptions of them and their history, often accompanied by latitude and longitude coordinates, such as, "Diospolis Parva (now Hu) Lat 26 H Long 49 E. It is in a fine military situation, but possesses no remains of antiquity". Natural landmarks, such as the cataracts of the Nile, are included, as are monuments of antiquity (Cleopatra's Needle) and religious institutions like convents of El Baramous and Atumandur (mosques, monuments and mountains). There are lengthy notes on Luxor ("the finest village formed out of ancient Thebes"), Rosetta, Alexandria and Al-Qusair, as well as entries of a more ethnographic nature ("almur", a female dancer; "fillah", a peasant Arab) and natural history (crocodiles, gazelles, ibis, hawk etc.). The illustration, facing the entry "Zaayeh in Egypt", shows a city near the coast with a fortress, a mosque, a spire, and ships.

William Beauchamp-Proctor entered the navy in September 1794 and within a year action off Norway, during which he was wounded. He spent the next few years serving at home on the "Stag" before being transferred to the Mediterranean and eventually was commissioned acting-lieutenant on "Foudroyant", Admiral Keith's flagship, and served with distinction in the Egyptian Campaign, receiving the Turkish gold medal and promotion to commander at its conclusion.

An excellent compendium.


A pencil note to the front pastedown states: "from the library of Sir Wm. Beauchamp Proctor".


Binding scuffed and rubbed, joints cracking but holding nicely, bookplate removed from front pastedown.