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Elias Ashmole

Elias Ashmole (1617-1692) was an English antiquary, alchemist and herald. He was born at Lichfield in 1617.

Ashmole practiced as a solicitor in London, but at the outbreak of the Civil War he moved to Oxford where he studied physics and mathematics and acquired an interest in astrology and magic.

In 1650 Ashmole translated and published Arthur Dee's alchemical anthology Fasciculus Chemicus under the anagrammatic name of James Hasholle (by substitution of the letter J for I in the Roman alphabet). In 1652 he published his most important work, the Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum, a collection of British alchemical texts including those of Canon Ripley .

After the Restoration, Ashmole, who was a royalist, was rewarded by Charles II with the post of Windsor Herald. Ashmole made use of this position to write a history of the Order of the Garter.

He collected antiquities throughout his life. In 1659, the botanist, traveler and collector John Tradescant left his large collection of artifacts and specimens and his library to Ashmole. In 1667, Ashmole in turn presented the combined collections and library to Oxford University to found the Ashmolean Museum, the first public museum in Britain.

Ashmole was also one of the original Fellows of the Royal Society. He corresponded with many of the leading antiquarians and scholars of his day, including Sir Thomas Browne who wrote to him of his friendship with Arthur Dee. Ashmole's memoirs were published in 1717.


  • Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (1652)
  • The Institution, Laws and Ceremonies of the Order of the Garter (1672)

External link

Two letters to Elias Ashmole from Sir Thomas Browne (1658 and 1674) about Arthur Dee available at Wikisource .

Last updated: 01-28-2005 20:32:05
Last updated: 03-02-2005 13:16:20