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LIFE of Aubrey
Dedication to the First Edition
Day-Fatality; or, Some Observations of Days Lucky and Unlucky
Day-Fatality of Rome
Of Fatalities of Families and Places
Ostenta; or, Portents
Blows invisible
Transportation by an invisible Power
Visions in a Beryl or Crystal
Visions without a Glass or Crystal
Converse with Angels and Spirits
Corps-candles in Wales
Glances of Love and Malice
An accurate account of Second-Sighted men in Scotland
Additaments of Second-Sight
Farther Additaments


JOHN AUBREY, the subject of this brief notice, was born at Easton
Pierse, (Parish of Kington,) in Wiltshire, on the 12th of March, 1626;
and not on the 3rd of November in that year, as stated by some of his
biographers. He was the eldest son of Richard Aubrey, Esq. of
Burleton, Herefordshire, and Broad Chalk, Wiltshire. Being, according
to his own statement, "very weak, and like to dye," he was baptized
on the day of his birth, as appears by the Register of Kington. At an
early age (1633) he was sent to the Grammar School at Yatton Keynel,
and in the following year he was placed under the tuition of Mr.
Robert Latimer, the preceptor of Hobbes, a man then far advanced in

On the 2nd of May, 1642, being then sixteen years of age, Aubrey was
entered a gentleman commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, where he
appears to have applied himself closely to study. He however cherished
a strong predilection for English History and Antiquities, which was
fostered and encouraged at this time by the appearance of the
"Monasticon Anglicanum", to which he contributed a plate of Osney
Abbey, an ancient ruin near Oxford, entirely destroyed in the Civil

On the 16th of April, 1646, Aubrey was admitted a student of the
Middle Temple, but the death of his father shortly after, leaving him
heir to estates in Wiltshire, Surrey, Herefordshire, Brecknockshire
and Monmouthshire, obliged him to relinquish his studies and look to
his inheritance, which was involved in several law suits.

Though separated from his associates in the University, he appears to
have kept up a correspondence with several of them, and among others,
Anthony Wood, whom he furnished with much valuable information. Wood
made an ungrateful return for this assistance, and in his
Autobiography thus speaks of him:-"An. 1667, John Aubrey of Easton
Piers in the parish of Kingston, Saint Michael in Wiltshire, was in
Oxon. with Edward Forest, a Bookseller, living against Alls. Coll. to
buy books. He then saw lying on the stall Notitiae Academiae
Oxoniensis, and asking who the author of that book was ? he [Edw.
Forest] answered, the report was that one Mr. Anth. Wood, of Merton
College was the author, but was not. Whereupon Mr. Aubrey, a pretender
to Antiquities, having been contemporary to A. Wood's elder brother in
Trin. Coll. and well acquainted with him, he thought, that he might be
as well acquainted with A. W. himself, Whereupon repairing to his
lodgings, and telling him who he was, he got into his acquaintance,
talked to him about his studies, and offered him what assistance he
could make, in order to the completion of the work that he was in hand
with. Mr. Aubrey was then in sparkish garb, came to town with his man
and two horses, spent high, and flung out A. W. in all his recknings.
But his estate of 70011 per an. being afterwards sold and he reserving
nothing of it to himself, liv'd afterwards in very sorry condition,
and at length made shift to rub out by hanging on Edm. Wyld, Esq.,
living in Blomesbury near London, on James Carle of Abendon, whose
first wife was related to him, and on Sr Joh. Aubrey his kinsman,
living sometimes in Glamorganshire and sometimes at Borstall near
Brill in Bucks. He was a shiftless person, roving and magotie-headed,
and sometimes little better than crased. And being exceedingly
credulous, would stuff his many letters sent to A. W. with folliries
and misinformations, which would sometimes guid him into the paths of
errour." This example of bad English, and worse taste, was written
after twenty-five years acquaintance! In singular contrast to it, is a
letter of Aubrey to Wood, charging him, it is true, with an abuse of
confidence and detraction, but urging his complaint in terms which
sufficiently evince the kindly and affectionate nature of the writer.

Malone, in his " Historical Account of the English Stage," has done
Aubrey justice; and his remarks may properly find a place here. " That
the greater part of his (Aubrey's) life was devoted to literary
pursuits, is ascertained by the works which he has published, the
correspondence which he held with many eminent men, and the
collections which he left in manuscript and which are now reposited in
the Ashmolean Museum. Among these collections is a curious account of
our English Poets, and many other writers. While Wood was preparing
his Athenae Oxonienses, this manuscript was lent to him, as appears
from many queries in his handwriting in the margin; and his account of
Milton, with whom Aubrey was intimately acquainted, is (as has been
observed by Mr. Warton) literally transcribed from thence." After
alluding to the quarrel between Wood and Aubrey, he continues, "But
whatever Wood in a peevish humour may have said or thought of Mr.
Aubrey, by whose labours he has highly profited, or however
fantastical Aubrey may have been on the subject of chemistry and
ghosts, his character for veracity has never been impeached, and as a
very diligent Antiquary, his testimony is worthy of attention. Mr.
Toland, who was well acquainted with him, and certainly a better judge
of men than Wood, gives this character of him: 'Though he was
extremely superstitious, or seemed to be so, yet he was a very honest
man, and most accurate in his account of matter of fact. But the facts
he knew, not the reflections he made, were what I wanted.'"

Aubrey preserved, amidst all his troubles, an intimacy with the men of
Science and Letters of his day, and with them formed the nucleus of
the Royal Society. Some of the principal incidents of his life are
briefly detailed in the following autobiographical memoranda, entitled


Born at Easton-Piers, March 1625,6, about sun-rising; very weak and
like to Dye, & therefore christned that morning before Prayer. I think
I have heard my mother say I had an Ague shortly after I was born.

1629. About three or four years old I had a grievous ague, I can
remember it. I got not health till eleven or twelve, but had sickness
of Vomiting for 12 hours every fortnight for years, then it came
monthly for then quarterly & then half yearly, the last was in June
1642. This sickness nipt my strength in the bud.

1633. At eight years old I had an issue (naturall) in the coronall
sutor of my head, which continued running till 21.

1634. October, I had a violent fevor, it was like to have carried me
off 'twas the most dangerous sickness that ever I had,

1639.  About 1639 or 1643 I had the measills, but that was nothing, I
was hardly sick. Monday after Easter week my Uncle's Nag ranne away
with me & gave me a very dangerous fall.

1642 May 3. Entered at Trinity College.

1643 April and May, the Small Pox at Oxon; after left that ingeniouse
place & for three years led a sad life in the Country.

1646.  April - Admitted of the M. Temple, but my fathers sickness and
business never permitted me to make any settlement to my study.

1651.  About the 16 or 18 of April I saw that incomparable good
conditioned gentlewoman Mrs M. Wiseman, with whom at first sight I was
in love.

1652. October the 21. my father died.

1655.  (I think) June 14. I had a fall at Epsam & brake one of my
ribbes, and was afraid it might cause an apostumation.

1656.  Sept. 1655 or rather I think 1656 I began my chargeable &
tedious lawe Suite on the Entaile in Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire.
This yeare and the last was a strange yeare to me. Several love and
lawe suites.

1656 - Decemb {Astrological sign for conjunction} morb.

1657.  Novemb 27. obiit Dna Kasker Ryves with whom I was to marry, to
my great losse.

1659.  March or April like to break my neck in Ely Minster; and the
next day, riding a gallop there my horse tumbled over and over, and
yet I thank God no hurt.

1660.  July. Aug. I accompanied A. Ettrick into Ireland for a month &
returning were like to be shipwrecked at Holyhead but no hurt done.

1661, 1662, 1663. About these yeares I sold my Estate in
Herefordshire. Janu. I had the honour to be elected Fellow of the
R. S.

1664.  June 11 landed at Calais, in August following had a terrible fit
of the spleen and piles at Orleans. I returned in October.

1664 or 1665. Munday after Christmas was in danger to be spoiled by my
horse; and the same day received lasio in testiculo, which was like to
have been fatal. 0. R. Wiseman quod - I believe 1664.

1665.  November 1. I made my first address (in an ill hour) to
Joane Sumner.

1666.  This yeare all my business and affairs ran kim kam, nothing
tooke effect, as if I had been under an ill tongue. Treacheries and
enmities in abundance against me.

1667. December --- Arrested in Chancery Lane at Mrs Sumner's suite.

Feb. 24 A.M. about 8 or 9 Triall with her at Sarum; Victory and #600
damaged; through devilish opposition against me.

1668.  July 6. was arrested by Peter Gale's malicious contrivance the
day before I was to go to Winton for my second triall; but it did not
retard me above two hours, but did not then go to triall.

1669.  March 5 was my triall at Winton from eight to nine. The Judge
being exceedingly made against me by my Lady Hungerford but four of
the {     } appearing and much adoe got the moiety of Sarum: Verdict
in #300.

1669 and 1670 I sold all my Estate in Wilts. From 1670 to this very
day (I thank God) I have enjoyed a happy delitescency.

1671. Danger of Arrests.

1677.  Latter end of June an impostume brake in my head.
Mdm. St John's night 1673 in danger of being run through with a sword
by a young templer at M. Burges' chamber in the M. Temple.

I was in danger of being killed by William Earl of Pembroke then Lord
Herbert at the election of Sir William Salkeld for New Sarum. I have
been in danger of being drowned twice.

The year that I lay at M. Neve's (for a short time) I was in great
danger of being killed by a drunkard in the Street of Grays Inn Gate
by a Gentleman whom I never saw before but (Deo gratias) one of his
companions hindred his thrust.

[1754 June 11. transcribed from a MS. in M. Aubrey's own handwriting
in the possession of Dr. R. Rawlinson.]

These incidents are so curiously narrated, and afford such interesting
glimpses of the times to which they refer, that it is to be regretted
they exist in so brief a form.

Several of Aubrey's biographers have given a very loose and
unsatisfactory account of him, and it was left for Mr. Britton to
prepare a more authentic Life of one who had laboured long and
zealously to preserve the records of the past. To that gentleman we
owe many particulars regarding the close of Aubrey's career; among
others, the entry of his burial at Oxford, in the church of St. Mary
Magdalene- "1697. John Aubery a stranger was Buryed Jun. 7th."

To Mr. Britton we are also indebted for the fact that Aubrey was never
married; the statement that he had been united to Joan Sumner, resting
on no surer foundation than the allusion to that lady in the
"Accidents" above quoted. He died intestate, and Letters of
Administration were granted on the 18th December, 1697, to his
surviving brother William. In that license he is described as "late
of Broad Chalk in the County of Wilts, Batchelor."






WHEN I enjoyed the contentment of Solitude in your pleasant walks and
gardens at Lavington the last summer, I reviewed several scattered
papers which had lain by me for several years; and then presumed to
think, that if they were put together, they might be somewhat
entertaining: I therefore digested them there in this order, in which
I now present them to your Lordship.

The matter of this collection is beyond human reach: we being
miserably in the dark, as to the economy of the invisible world, which
knows what we do, or incline to, and works upon our passions and
sometimes is so kind as to afford us a glimpse of its prescience.

      MY LORD,

It was my intention to have finished my Description of Wiltshire*
(half finished already) and to have dedicated it to your Lordship: but
my age is now too far spent for such undertakings: I have therefore
devolved that task on my country man, Mr. Thomas Tanner, - who hath
youth to go through with it, and a genius proper for such an

* In the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, - Afterwards Bishop of St. Asaph.

Wherefore, I humbly beseech your Lordship to accept of this small
offering, as a grateful memorial of the profound respect which I have
for you, who have for many years taken me into your favour and

      MY LORD,

May the blessed Angels be your careful guardians:
such are the prayers of

Your Lordship's Most obliged
And humble Servant,




      LUC. xix. 43.
      "In hoc die tuo": In this thy day.

That there be good and evil times, not only the sacred scriptures, but
prophane authors mention: see 1 Sam. 25, 8. Esther 8, 17. and 9, 19,
22. Ecclus. 14. 14.

The fourteenth day of the first month was a memorable and blessed day
amongst the children of Israel: see Exod. 12, 18, 40, 41, 42, 51.
Levit. 23, 5. Numb. 28, 16. Four hundred and thirty years being
expired of their dwelling in Egypt, even in the self same day departed
they thence.

A thing something parallel to this we read in the Roman histories:
that, that very day four years, that the civil wars were begun by
Pompey the father, Caesar made an end of them with his sons; Cneius
Pompeius being then slain, and it being also the last battle Caesar was
ever in. (Heylin in the kingdom of Corduba.) The calendar to Ovid's
Fastorum, says, "Aprilis erat mensis Grcecis auspicatisimus", a most
auspicious month among the Graecians.

As to evil days and times; see Amos 5, 13. and 6, 3. Eccles. 9, 12.
Psal. 37, 19. Obad. 12. Jer. 46, 21. And Job hints it, in cursing his
birthday. Cap. 3, v. 1,10, 11. See Weever, p.458.

      Early in a morning
      In an evil tyming,
      Went they from Dunbar.

Horace, lib. 2. Ode 13. Cursing the tree that had like to have fallen
upon him, says, 'Ille nefasto te posuit die'; intimating that it was
planted in an unlucky day.

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