Authorised form of nameAshmole; Elias (1617 - 1692); astrologer and antiquarian
Dates1617 - 1692
Place of birthLichfield, Staffordshire, England, Europe
Date of birth23 May 1617
Place of deathLambeth, England, Europe
Date of death18 May 1692
Dates and placesBurial:
St Mary's Church, Lambeth, England, Europe (26 May 1692)
OccupationAntiquary; Solicitor
Research fieldastrology; chemistry; botany
Lichfield Grammar School; chorister at Lichfield Cathedral; Brasenose College, Oxford (before 1644); DMed (1669)
Solicitor in Chancery (1638); Attorney of the Court of Common Pleas (1640); Commissioner of Excise at Lichfield (1644); Commissioner of Excise at Worcester (1644-1646); King's Gentleman of the Ordnance of the Garrison (May 1645); Captain of Foot, Royalist Infantry (March 1646); became a Freemason, Warrington (16 October 1646); Barrister-at-law of the Middle Temple (1660); Windsor Herald (1660); Comptroller, later Accountant-General, of Excise; Commissioner for Surinam; Comptroller of the White Office; used his own collections and those of his friend John Tradescant to found the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (1682); bequeathed his library to Oxford University (1675)
Freemason, first recorded Englishman to have been initiated in England, 16 October 1646, at Warrington, Lancashire
Membership categoryOriginal Fellow
Date of election20/05/1663
Royal Society activityCommittee and panels:
Committee for Collecting all the Phenomena of Nature hitherto observed (1664)
Other Royal Society activityProposed on 26 December 1660; Brought in an account on comets (1660s)
RelationshipsParents: Simon Ashmole and Anne Bowyer
Married: 1) Eleanor Manwairing; 2) Mary Forster, Lady Mainwairing (her petition for separation was rejected in 1657); 3) Elizabeth Dugdale
Published worksRCN: 16605
General contextAshmole was a staunch royalist throughout his life, which influenced some of his career appointments, for example as excise commissioner for Lichfield in 1644. His interest in astrology and alchemy steadily grew and his main work 'Theatrum chemicum Britannicum' was published in 1652, as a collection of alchemical poems intended as an addition to the European 'Theatrum chemicum' (1602). Ashmole's interest in antiquarianism was also demonstrated in his task of cataloguing the Bodleian Library's collection of Roman coins, completed in 1666. He bequeathed his collections to the University of Oxford on the condition that an appropriate building would be built to house them; the Ashmolean Museum was completed and opened in 1683 and was considered to be the first public museum in modern Europe.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Ashmole E, IM006529.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; Foster; ODNB
Stephen Pasmore, 'Thomas Henshaw, FRS (1618-1700)' in NR 1981-82 vol 36 pp 177-188
Michael Hunter, 'The Social Bias and Changing Fortunes of an Early Scientific Institution: An Analysis of the Membership of the Royal Society, 1660-1685' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 9-114
Sir Anthony Wagner, 'The Royal Society's Coat of Arms' in NR 1962 vol 17 pp 9-14
C H Josten, 'Elias Ashmole, FRS (1617-1692)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 221-230, plate
'Freemasons and the Royal Society: Alphabetical List of Fellows of the Royal Society who were also Masons' Library and Museum of Freemqasonry, 2010, page 5
The election date is Ashmole's re-election date into the Society after the grant of the second charter in April 1663. All Fellows admitted in a two-month window after this charter, until 22 June 1663, are considered Original Fellows. He was previously elected on 2 January 1661.
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8107
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MS/390/40Bond of Elias Ashmole to the Treasurer of the Royal Society30 November 1674
NLB/56/906Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Falconer Madan Esquire, Librarian of the Bodley Library; Oxford24 June 1919
CLP/8i/35Paper, 'Account of three relations concerning the nature, effects and theory of comets' communicated by Mr Ashmole[17th century]
IM/000138Ashmole, Eliasnd
DM/5/94Excerpts from the Council Book listing a painting and 'Artifical Things', both deposited in 1663 c.1663
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