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Partridge, John (1643-1715)

Partridge, John (1643-1715)

John Partridge, an influential member of the large astrological community in late seventeenth-century London, was one of several people known for his production of almanacs. As a youth he was apprenticed to a shoemaker, but in his leisure moments he educated himself and learned the several classic languages. He also mastered astrology, and there is evidence that he studied with John Gadbury. In 1678 his first book, Mikropanastron, was published and became the catalyst for his leaving his shoemaking career for life as an astrologer. Two years later he published his first almanac, Merlinus Liberatus.

Political changes in 1685 (the year of the death of King Charles II) led Partridge to leave England and take up residence in Leyden, Holland. He returned four years later, having acquired a medical degree. He married a well-to-do widow and resumed his astrological practice. He is remembered as a prominent British exponent of a new system of division of the astrological house in the horoscope originated by Italian mathematician, Placidus de Tito. In the midst of several systems of house division, Placidus began by measuring the time needed for a point on the ascendent (horizon) to reach the midheaven (directly above the observer). The degree thus obtained is divided by three. The Placidean system, introduced in the late seventeenth century, was shunned by many British astrologers. It found its major exponent in Partridge.

By the end of the century, Partridge had emerged as the most prominent astrologer in England, a role he inherited from the late William Lilly (1602-1681). He also continued Lilly's attacks on fellow astrologer John Gadbury. In the early eighteenth century, his colleagues began to take advantage of Partridge's reputation by issuing competing almanacs in Partridge's name. Then in 1708 he became the victim of a vicious hoax. Author Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writing under the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff, published a fake almanac that included a prediction of Partridge's death on March 29, 1708. He followed his almanac on March 30 with a brief tract that regretfully noted that the prediction of Partridge's death had been true and described Partridge's passing. Many almanac readers did not perceive the hoax, and Partridge was presented with the task of proving that he was still alive. He discontinued his almanac for several years and when he resumed, he included an attack on Swift's character.

Partridge died in London on June 24, 1715.

Sources:

Holden, James H., and Robert A. Hughes. Astrological Pioneers of America. Tempe, Ariz.: American Federation of Astrologers, 1988.

McCaffery, Ellen. Astrology: Its History and Influence in the Western World. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1942.

Partridge, John. Mikropanastron; or, an Astrological Vade Mecum London, 1679.

. Nebulo Anglicanus; or, the First Part of the Black Life of John Gadbury. London, 1693.

. Opus Reformatum; or, a Treatise of Astrology in which the Common Errors of the Art Are Exposed and Rejected. London, 1693.

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