Smith, Robert Cross (1795-1832)

views updated

Smith, Robert Cross (1795-1832)

Robert Cross Smith, a pioneering modern astrologer, was the first of a lineage of British astrologers to use the pseudonym Raphael with his writings. He was born in Bristol, England, on March 19, 1795. He became a carpenter and in 1820 married Sarah Lucas. Soon after his marriage he moved to London. In the city he became interested in astrology, possibly due to his acquaintance with G. W. Graham, the balloonist. The pair authored a book on geomancy, Philosophical Merlin, in 1822. In 1824, Smith became the editor of a new magazine, The Struggling Astrologer, but it failed for lack of subscribers after only a few issues. Then, two years later, he was offered the opportunity to edit an almanac, The Prophetic Messenger. The first issue appeared in 1827 under his pen name and carried the ephemeris (chart of daily planetary positions) that was to become so identified with him.

Smith edited The Prophetic Messenger annually for the rest of his life. It was widely read and the ephemeris used by an increasing number of astrologers. Following Smith's death on February 26, 1832, in London, his work as Raphael would be continued by a series of astrologers who successively inherited the title. Eventually, Raphael's Ephemeris would be issued as a separate volume and become the standard text consulted by both British and American astrologers for the construction of their clients' horoscopes. The Ephemeris was unique in introducing in its table of houses the system of house division developed by the Italian monk Placidus de Titus (1603-1668). Through the success of Raphael's Ephemeris, the Placidian system of house division would come to dominate English-speaking countries.

Smith also wrote several books, the most important being A Manual of Astrology (1828), which joined James Wilson 's Dictionary of Astrology as a basic textbook for astrology. It continued to be reprinted into the twentieth century. Raphael thus joined Wilson, his older contemporary, in creating the astrological revival that, following a century of decline, would initiate two centuries of steady growth.


Brau, Jean-Louis, Helean Weaver, and Allan Edwards. Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: New American Library, 1982.

Raphael [pseudonym of Robert C. Smith]. The Familiar Astrologer. London: Knight & Lacey, 1828.

. A Manual of Astrology. London: C. S. Arnold, 1828.

, and G. W. Graham. Philosophical Merlin. London, 1822.