John Partridge (astrologer)

John Partridge (astrologer)

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John Partridge was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 astrologer
Astrologer
An astrologer practices one or more forms of astrology. Typically an astrologer draws a horoscope for the time of an event, such as a person's birth, and interprets celestial points and their placements at the time of the event to better understand someone, determine the auspiciousness of an...

. He was also the author and publisher of a number of astrological almanacs and books.

Partridge's life


Partridge was born January 18, 1644 (OS
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

) in East Sheen
East Sheen
East Sheen, also known as 'Sheen', is an affluent suburb of London, England in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It forms part of the London post town in the SW postcode area....

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and died in either 1714 or 1715.

Although starting out in life humbly enough (he was working as a shoemaker in Covent Garden around 1680), Partridge managed to teach himself enough Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 to enroll at Leyden University, Holland. He graduated in Medicine and by 1682 was styling himself 'Physician to his Majesty'. Although he was one of the sworn physicians of the court, he apparently never attended nor received any salary.

Partridge undertook to himself the task of reforming astrology. His program for reform involved eliminating the elements derived for the medieval Arabic tradition in favor of a return to Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

.

Partridge was strongly identified with the Whig
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 faction in seventeenth-century English politics. He was forced into exile in the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 during the reign of James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

. The reign was also marked by Partridge's feud with his former astrological mentor John Gadbury
John Gadbury
John Gadbury was an English astrologer, and a prolific writer of almanacs and on other related topics. Initially a follower or disciple, and a defender in the 1650s, of William Lilly, he eventually turned against Lilly and denounced him in 1675 as fraudulent.His 1652 Philastrogus Knavery...

, who converted to Catholicism.

Swift Hoax



In the 1708 edition of the Merlinus Almanac, Partridge sarcastically referred to the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 as the "infallible Church". This drew the attention of satirist and Irish cleric Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift
Jonathan Swift was an Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer , poet and cleric who became Dean of St...

. Playing on Partridge's own (generally inaccurate) yearly predictions of deaths of notable individuals, Swift, writing under the pseudonym
Pseudonym
A pseudonym is a name that a person assumes for a particular purpose and that differs from his or her original orthonym...

 Isaac Bickerstaff
Isaac Bickerstaff
Isaac Bickerstaff Esq was a pseudonym used by Jonathan Swift as part of a hoax to predict the death of then famous Almanac–maker and astrologer John Partridge....

, predicted in a letter published in January 1708 that Partridge himself would die an "infallible death" on March 29 of that year. On that date, Swift published another letter (purportedly by a "man employed in the Revenue") confirming Partridge's death. The letter was reprinted by other writers and publishers along with its accompanying eulogy:
When Partridge published a letter proclaiming that he had not in fact died, Swift announced that his letter was false, as "they were sure no man alive ever to writ such damned stuff as this." Partridge's intense unpopularity among Church supporters, those whose deaths he had falsely predicted, anti-Whigs, and those who felt his "astrology" was in reality quackery kept the hoax going long after Swift finally dispensed with it. Partridge reportedly suffered from the effects of the hoax for the rest of his life.

Books

  • Partridge's advice to the Protestants of England, 1678
  • Mikropanastron, or, An astrological vade mecum briefly teaching the whole art of astrology, 1679. Fascimile reprint, 2005.
A textbook of traditional horary, electional and natal astrology. The book included several sets of aphorisms including the famous Centiloquium
Centiloquium
The Centiloquium , also called Ptolemy's Centiloquium, is a collection of one hundred aphorisms about astrology and astrological rules...

, the 100 sayings attributed to Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

.
  • Mercurius coelestis, being an almanack for the year of the world's redemption, 1682..., 1682
  • Merlinus redivivus, being an almanack for the year of our redemption, 1684...', 1684
  • Opus Reformatum: Treatise of Astrology in which The Common Errors of that Art are Modestly Exposed and Rejected, 1693. Reprinted, Kessinger Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-7661-8471-4

External links