Sunday, October 24, 2010

Elias Ashmole

On October 24, 1660, Samuel Pepys records in his diary visiting William Lilly's house, where he met Elias Ashmole and John Booker; astrologers all.  Per Pepys: '...I went to Mr. Greatorex, where I met him, and so to an alehouse, where I bought of him a drawing-pen; and he did show me the manner of the lamp-glasses, which carry the light a great way, good to read in bed by, and I intend to have one of them. So to Mr. Lilly’s with Mr. Spong, where well received, there being a club to-night among his friends. Among the rest Esquire Ashmole, who I found was a very ingenious gentleman. With him we two sang afterward in Mr. Lilly’s study. That done, we all pared; and I home by coach, taking Mr. Booker with me, who did tell me a great many fooleries, which may be done by nativities, and blaming Mr. Lilly for writing to please his friends and to keep in with the times (as he did formerly to his own dishonour), and not according to the rules of art, by which he could not well err, as he had done....'

Elias Ashmole was an antiquary, politician, and founding member of the Royal Society, as well as being an astrologer.  Ashmole's name lives on at Oxford University, to which he bequeathed a collection of antiquities, stipulating that a museum be built to house them.  That museum was named in his honor, the Ashmolean Museum (

As told on Edinburgh University's Walter Scott archive, Sir Walter Scott relied on his "Antiquities of Berkshire" for the tale Amy Robsart and Cumnor Hall that he employed as source material for "Kenilworth"(

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