CURETON, WILLIAM, D.D. (1808-1864), a famous English Orientalist, was born at Westbury, in Shropshire. After being educated at the Free Grammar School of Newport, and at Christ Church, Oxford, he took orders in 1832, became chaplain of Christ Church College, sub-librarian of the Bodleian, and, in 1837, assistant keeper of MSS. in the British Museum. He was afterwards appointed select preacher to the university of Oxford, chaplain in ordinary to the queen, rector of St Margaret's, Westminster, and canon of Westminster. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society, corresponding member of the German Oriental Society and of the Institute of France, and foreign associate of the Institute, member of the French Asiatic Society and of the Historico-Theological Society of Leipsic, and trustee of the British Museum. He died in 1864.
Cureton's most remarkable work was the edition with notes and an English translation of the Epistles of St Ignatius to St Polycarp, the Ephesians, and the Romans, from a Syriac MS., found in the monastery of St Mary Deipara, in the desert of Nitria, near Cairo. He held that the MS. lie used gave the truest text, that all other texts were inaccurate, and that the epistles contained in the MS. were the only genuine epistles of St Ignatius that we possess - a view which received the support of F. C. Baur, Bunsen, and many others, but which was opposed by Dr Wordsworth and by several German scholars. Cureton supported his view by his Vindicice Ignatiance and his Corpus lgnatia7zum, - a Complete Collection of the Iguatian Epistles, genuine, interpolated, and spurious. He also edited a partial Syriac text of the Festal Letters of St ,4thanasius, which was translated into English by Henry Burgess (1854), and published in the Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church ; Remains of a very Ancient Recension of the Pour Cospels in Syriac, hitherto unknown in Europe ; Spieilegiuni Syriacum, containing Remains of Bardesan, Meliton, Ambrose, ,Mara Bar Serapion ; The third Part of the Ecclesiastical History of John, Bishop of Ephesus, which was translated by Payne Smith ; Fragments of the Iliad of Homer from a Syriae Palimpsest ; an Arabic work known as the Thirty-first Chapter of the Book entitled The Lamp that guides to Salvation, written by a Christian of Tekrit ; The Book of Religious andPhilosophical Sects, by Muhammed al Sharastani ; a Commentary on the Book of Lamentations, by Rabbi Tauchuto; and the Pillar of the Creed of the Sunnites. Cureton also published several sermons, among which was one entitled The Doctrine of the Trinity not Speculative but Practical. After his death Dr W. Wright of the British Museum edited with a preface the Ancient Syriac Documents relative to the earliest Establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the neighbouring Countries, from the year of our Lord's Ascension to the beginning of the fourth Century ; discovered, edited, amd annotated by the late IV. Cureton.