CASTELL, EDMUND (1606–1685), English orientalist, was born in 1606 at Tadlow, in Cambridgeshire. At the age of fifteen he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, but afterwards changed his residence to St John’s, on account of the valuable library there. His great work was the compiling of his Lexicon Heptaglotton Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Syriacum, Samaritanum, Aethiopicum, Arabicum, et Persicum (1669). Over this book he spent eighteen years, working (if we may accept his own statement) from sixteen to eighteen hours a day; he employed fourteen assistants, and by an expenditure of £12,000 brought himself to poverty, for his lexicon, though full of the most unusual learning, did not find purchasers. He was actually in prison in 1667 because he was unable to discharge his brother’s debts, for which he had made himself liable. A volume of poems dedicated to the king brought him preferment. He was made prebendary of Canterbury and professor of Arabic at Cambridge. Before undertaking the Lexicon Heptaglotton, Castell had helped Dr Brian Walton in the preparation of his Polyglott Bible. His MSS. he bequeathed to the university of Cambridge. He died in 1685 at Higham Gobion, Bedfordshire, where he was rector.
The Syriac section of the Lexicon was issued separately at Göttingen in 1788 by J. D. Michaelis, who offers a tribute to Castell’s learning and industry. Trier published the Hebrew section in 1790–1792.