The Philosophy of Astrology in 19th Century England:
a Literary Survey, 1784-1811

– Written by Philip Graves
– May 1, 2017

This lecture was delivered orally at the 9th International Conference of Astrology in Perugia, Italy on July 1st, 2017


This paper will examine the salient points and diversity of the philosophy of astrology towards the start of the nineteenth century English astrological revival, beginning with the publication of Ebenezer Sibly’s Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology in 1784, and concluding with Thomas White’s The Beauties of Occult Sciences Investigated in 1811. It will make close reference to the major astrological literature published throughout this period.

About the author:

Philip Graves has been a practising student of astrology and its history since 1995. His website at includes his archived articles and the meticulous catalogue of his private library of international astrological literature, which contains over 6850 books and 9330 issues of journals and almanacs. Graves has digitised numerous early astrological publications and has provided research assistance to the authors of several books on astrology. He holds a B. A. (Hons.) in French.



This paper will examine the philosophy of astrology as professed by the authors of major astrological text-books published in England at the dawn of the 19th century astrological revival between 1784 and 1811: Ebenezer and Manoah Sibly; C. Heydon Jun.; John Worsdale, and Thomas White.


1. Ebenezer and Manoah Sibly.

The Sibly brothers were pivotal figures spearheading the resumption of astrological publishing in late 18th century England after over half a century of neglect.

Manoah Sibly was partly instrumental in bringing one of the major Latin works of Italian 17th century astrologer Placido de Titis, the Tabulae Primi Mobilis, which is chiefly a nuts-and-bolts technical treatise of astrology, into print in English for the first time. His publication in 1789[1] of an anonymous late 18th century English translation of Placido’s work, a manuscript translation that had been procured by the scholarly astrology enthusiast J. B. of Islington[2], served to forge an intellectual and methodological bridge between the high point of late Renaissance Italian astrology and the tentative footsteps of early 19th century English astrology. Sibly’s English edition of the Tabulae Primi Mobilis was subsequently improved by the addition of Placido’s original tables in the edition published by John Cooper in 1812, which has been the standard English-language reference for Placido’s work ever since.

Manoah has little of his own to add to the translated words of Placido, merely lamenting in florid prose in his Editor’s Address the decline of astrology at the same time as praising advances in astronomy:

It is an observation, founded on truth and experience, that the Arts and Sciences, like Kingdoms and States, have their rise and fall. Astronomy has ridden triumphant, ever since it was brought to that degree of accuracy it now stands in, by the immortal Newton; yet, considered in itself, cut off from Elementary Philosophy, its most essential part, Astronomy would appear as a cabinet without a jewel; a mere idle speculation, possessed of no essential requisite to recommend itself to the studious and intelligent. But when joined to that part of the metaphysics, called Elementary Philosophy, we shall find it replete with useful instruction, and conducive to every salutary purpose of making mankind happier and better.[3]

Arguably of foremost influence among the Sibly brothers’ collective literary endeavours was Ebenezer[4]‘s penning of a broad-based treatise on astrological and occult science extending to over 1120 large-format pages.

Originally issued in four parts from 1784 to 1788, his ‘Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology’ sold strongly. This can be seen from the many and frequent subsequent reprintings up to and including 1826.

In an introductory address to ‘the Young Student in Astrology’, Sibly frames his philosophy of astrology in the context of Christian religious mores, implicitly presenting astrology as a form of ‘profound and transcendent’ natural knowledge that must remain subordinate to the human duty to embody and fulfil ‘divine Providence’:

let no natural knowledge, however profound and transcendent soever it be, elate thy mind, or withdraw thee from thy duty to that divine Providence, by whose all-seeing order and appointment, all things heavenly and earthly have their constant and never-ceasing motion[5]….

After commencing on such a note of caution, he goes on to argue that God’s ‘power and wisdom’ is ‘magnified’ by the enlargement of personal knowledge through the study of astrology:

The more thy knowledge is enlarged by this comprehensive science, the more do thou magnify the power and wisdom of the Almighty God, and strive to preserve thyself in his favour.[6]

Sibly is presenting the earnest study of astrology as being in natural harmony with, and even significantly conducive to, the leading of a worshipful religious life.

In the opening paragraphs of the main text of the first part of his treatise, he professes that the work is aimed at:

restoring a competent knowledge of that comprehensive science, which in all ages of the world was deemed the chief ornament of society, and the distinguishing excellence of enlightened minds.[7]

He expresses awareness of prevailing prejudice against and ignorance of astrology in his day, which he blames partly on ‘violent disturbances at the close of the last century’ and partly on ‘the too refined notions of modern philosophers’.

Then he states as being his aim:

to remove the mote from the eyes of prejudiced men; and by just reasoning, and fair argument… to shew them that God is a God of order, and created nothing in vain; – that he framed the world by number, weight, and measure, and fixed the whole system of heavenly and earthly things upon so perfect and immutable a plan, that the whole doth work harmoniously and sympathetically together, so as to answer all the various purposes for which they were first ordained; – that superiors do uniformly rule inferiors; and that celestial bodies sensibly act upon and influence all earthly substances, whether animal, vegetable or mineral; not by chance or accident, but by a regular inherent cause, implanted in them from the beginning, by the omnipotence of God.[8]

At the same time, Sibly accords with the Christian doctrine of Free Will as a test of human obedience to God, portraying this freedom of will as acting to some extent independently of planetary influence to shape various facets of fate:

And thus, unconstrained either by the immediate hand of God, or by the operation of the planets, as second causes, some embrace life, and others seek condemnation; and hence follow virtue and vice, prosperity and adversity, sickness and health, life and death, and all the visissitudes of Fortune.[9]

The Will of man, without doubt, in a variety of instances, makes great struggles and wrestlings with the starry influences, both in good and in evil pursuits, and often prevails over them exceedingly; – for though a person be born under such benevolent or malignant aspects, as shall point out his natural temper and disposition, and indicate the principal transactions, fortunate or unfortunate, that are likely to be the distinguishing marks of his life; yet does it depend entirely upon the free uncontrolled will of that man, whether all those circumstances, so pointed out in his nativity, shall come to pass, or not; because the free will in every man, when fortified by habits of virtue and wisdom, often enable him to over-rule those evil aspects, so as to avoid the commission of any criminal offence, and to guard him against the misfortunes or losses impending over him; while men of a profligate and careless habit, not only lose the advantages of a promising nativity, but, if born under malevolent aspects, are often reduced to the last stage of distress, and perish under the very same strokes of nature, which wiser and better men, born in the same inauspicious moments, have endured with much ease.’[10]

Sibly reconciles his affirmation of Free Will with his belief in the omniscience and providence of God, opining that:

God, who ordained the course of nature, certainly foresaw the minutest turn of every man’s will, and eventually contrived his fate to correspond therewith, so as to admit its free and uncontrolled choice[11]…. [S]uch is the infinite prescience and providence of God, that foreseeing the desires and deserts of all wise and holy men, in their different ages and times, he also laid their fates suiting to their actions’[12].

He adds that there are many influences of fate so powerful that no wisdom of man can forestall them. In this category he includes ‘the fatal wounds of death’, as well as ‘excruciating pain and sickness’, and ‘the high tides of prosperity and adversity’.

Sibly quotes from the Book of Moses as evidence for the compatibility of the study of astrology with the will of God:

God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day from the night; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and let them be for Signs, and for Seasons, and for days and years”. – These then were the purposes for which they were ordained, and irrevocably fixed by their great Creator…. When God saith, Let them be for Signs he must speak in reference to man, whom he formed a rational creature, capable of distinguishing one sign from another, and of improving by them…. [W]e are to consider them as signs and tokens of those hidden events of futurity, which it concerns every wise and good man to know; and which he may always foresee, by a virtuous and sober study of these intelligent signs, placed by God for that purpose, in the firmament of heaven.[13]

There is much more of interest to the philosophy of astrology in Sibly’s introductory argumentative exposition, which continues to page 54 and merits a thorough reading, as well as in later parts of his work; yet time constraints for this lecture oblige me to move on to our next proponent.


2. C. Heydon, Jun.

C. Heydon, Jun. was the pseudonym of an unidentified astrological writer responsible for two compact pocket-books on astrology in the late 18th century. His pseudonym honours the great early 17th century intellectual defender of astrology Christopher Heydon, but no evidence is known for any ancestral connection with the real Heydon.

In his first work, ‘The New Astrology’ (1786), Heydon Jun. argues that many past texts on astrology have been riddled with difficulties that were impossible to overcome, and that they were written:

in such an ambiguous style, that many persons have been discouraged from engaging in it; and others, from the vulgar idea that it is pregnant with imposture, and aided by diabolical compact[14].

His declared aim is to win over these doubters by eliminating errors and ambiguities and by demonstrating that:

every judgement on Horary Questions and Nativities is founded on strict truth and morality, and is governed by rules and observations made from the positions and aspects of the planets; which if duly observed, and properly studied, it will be found an unerring Science.[15]

Heydon Jun. professes that astrology is a natural science:

The Science of Astrology is nothing more than the study of Nature, the knowledge of the secret virtues of the Heavens, and may be attained by common diligence; and the more we delight in it, the more readily we do foresee the motions of future events, and attain to the knowledge of things which are past: and by knowing the time of our birth, we are enabled to read in the Heavens the story of our whole lives, blessings and crosses, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, and time of our death[16].

He echoes Ebenezer Sibly in quoting from the Bible to argue that the acquisition of astrological knowledge is in keeping with the Will of God:

God has given this knowledge to the wise man, ‘to know the time and the judgement’, Eccl. i. 5. ‘and the number of our days, that we may be certified how long we have to live’, Psal. xxxix 5.[,] by which we may be prepared for all states of prosperity or adversity… and learn to support ourselves with fortitude and resignation[17].

Heydon Jun. then goes on to quote from an English translation of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, Chapter 3, in defence of the seeking of human foreknowledge:

“What can be more advantageous, either in respect of delight, happiness, or pleasure, than such a foreknowledge, by which we understand things both divine and human?”[18]

The pseudonymous writer initially portrays horary as a slightly inferior substitute for natal astrology, to be preferred when the exact time of birth is unknown. But then he affirms that by horary:

almost as much satisfaction may be given, upon many subjects of enquiry, as if his Nativity were actually known[19].

He attempts to explain horary with reference to a ‘sympathy in nature’ that he attributes to the workings of a ‘vegetative soul of the world’:

In these sympathies there can be no doubt but the vegetative soul of the world invisibly carries and unites a specific virtue from the Heavens between one thing and another, every where working those secret effects which no mortal can fail to admire; and in the present case, who is to determine what this soul cannot effect between the heavenly bodies and the animal spirit of man, working such sympathies, as that a question of importance to our welfare cannot start from the mind but in a point of time when the planets and signs governing the person’s birth are acting upon the subject that engages his thoughts and attention? And hence the birth of the question, like the nativity of the child, carries the story of the whole matter on its forehead[20].

Heydon Jun.’s second book, ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’ (1792), is a compact traditional interpretative text on nativities, divided into two sections referencing firstly the Italian Renaissance astrologer Andrea Argoli, and secondly Ptolemy, as their primary influences. The pseudonymous writer would appear to have studied some of the work of Argoli, and especially his writings on directions, despite the fact that his work had not (and in 2017 incidentally still has not) been translated into English in print.

In his introduction to ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’, at variance with his previous book, Heydon Jun. advises considerably more caution where horary is concerned, stating:

As to horary questions, I must reject them, as arising from the doubtful impulse of the mind, unless upon very great emergencies.[21]

Yet he continues by railing against the absurdity of those who condemn astrology without having studied or understood it, declaring that:

it is only the inability of those pretenders to it, which is the cause of so many mistakes, because the wonderful extent of this most notable science is far, very far, beyond their capacities to comprehend.[22]

He reaffirms his belief in the demonstrable truth of the doctrine of nativities, which he seeks to account for with reference to:

a Supreme Power that superintends the affairs of men, and raises up high, and brings down low, according to his pleasure, and does just as he pleases in the armies of Heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth.[23]

Like Sibly, however, the pseudonymous Heydon recognises human freedom of will and inclination as being operative within the context of these ‘stupendous designs’.

He also puts forth an intriguing argument for the power of the Signs of the zodiac that is ostensibly neither purely tropicalist nor purely siderealist in its philosophy, considering them to be ‘Celestial Constellations of Stars’ that have:

a more powerful and obvious influence on man than any of the other fixed stars; and the reason is, because they form the pathway of the Sun, Moon, and Planets, in all their peregrinations, and thereby receive from them a more powerful force and energy.[24]


3. John Worsdale

The English astrologer John Worsdale was a significant contributor to the 19th century astrological revival in England, producing three main works between the 1790s and 1820s. The first was his Genethliacal Astrology (first edition 1796; expanded second edition 1798); the second his Collection of Remarkable Nativities (1799); and the third, the much lengthier posthumously published Celestial Philosophy (1828).

Despite its title, Celestial Philosophy is essentially a practical treatise on prognostic astrology using directions, with some philosophical commentary incorporated into the individual detailed case studies.

Worsdale’s philosophy of astrology is expounded much more clearly in his first book. The main text of the 1798 edition of Genethliacal Astrology begins, after various niceties and an introductory third-party address, with a section entitled ‘A Defence of Astrology’, in which Worsdale bemoans the poor reputation astrology had acquired by this time:

Seeing the venerable science of Astrology has for a long Time groaned under the scurrilous Reflections of divers Persons, both learned and unlearned, who hold all the Practisers thereof in no better Estimation than cheating Impostors, and Amusers of the ignorant and over-credulous Multitude; for while some have considered it as no better than downright Witchcraft, others have ranked it, if not among juggling Tricks, yet among absurd Speculations[25].

He declares it his duty to argue for the truth of astrology.

Like Sibly, Worsdale bows to Christianity and considers the celestial bodies to be second causes…

under God the great and first Cause, who is the alone Author of our Being[26]…. We are obliged to believe, that all Things were made for what they are most fit to perform; and there is nothing in Nature sufficient to change the Qualities of earthly Bodies, but the occult and sacred Influence of the celestial World (I mean the Sun, Moon, and Stars,) which are undoubtedly by the wise Architecture of an immortal and All-Sufficient Being, placed in sundry Distances, and Spheres above us, for that very purpose; for no rational Man will deny, that God useth the Ministry of the Heavens, and Bodies therein contained, for the ordinary Government and Administration of this lower World.[27]

Worsdale continues by describing the world as a model or frame, created by God, by which all destinies were to come to pass through time. This frame consists of the Heavens and the Earth, with the Heavens described as:

a great Workmanship of many Wheels, wrapt up together, one within another; and the Earth, and the Air wrapt in the innermost of them all[28].

These wheels[29] are considered as a conduit for the motion of forces of nature, including life, spirit, power and virtue, first into the Heavens, thence into the Earth…

and from the Earth into Man and Beast[30].

Acknowledging the existence of free will in determining virtue and vice, Worsdale implies that God preordained for these to be met with their just deserts[31]:

Such was the… Forecast and Providence of God; that at one View, appearing unto him, all the several Turnings and Windings of all men’s Wills, and the total Sum and Upshot of all Virtue and Vice; He at once, so contrived that all Fates of Prosperity and Adversity, of Reward and Punishment, should so fall out and come to pass, as to answer the Virtues and Prayers of the Righteous, and the Vices and Villanies of the Wicked, each according to their Works, in due Times and Seasons[32].

However, he also recognises the variable roles of time and chance in determining people’s inclination to fortune or misfortune:

Some Men come into the World in a lucky Hour, so as whether they be wise or foolish, yet shall they be buoyed up upon the Wings of Fate, and acquire Wealth and Honour, while wiser and better Men, smitten by an unlucky Time of Birth, shall be as unworthily disparaged, and in all Purposes shall be unhappy…. And thus Time seems to mock and sport with the Men of this Life, and scoff at all their Skill, Courage, and Agility, as if they were but meer idle Stories’[33].

Nevertheless, Worsdale explains the operation of seeming chance in terms of human ignorance of the ‘secret operations of Heaven’, and adds that from God’s perspective, nothing happens by chance[34].

Worsdale departs from a purely fatalistic reading of astrology when he professes that it is possible for human Will to prevail over or diminish the harmful effects of the ‘starry influences’ when that Will is ‘fortified’ by wisdom, ‘strength of habit’ and ‘grace’[35], professing:

But what though there be such a Thing as Fate, yet it does not follow, that there must be therefore an absolute fatal Necessity, for there is no such Thing, neither the Stars, nor Heaven, nor Course of Nature, any ways pretending to force Man’s Will, they only incline in their Courses. And here lies the Exercise of Virtue, in striving and fighting against corrupt Inclinations…. Moreover, so effectual have been the fervent Prayers of faithful and good Men, that they have not only turned the Edge of malignant Inclinations to bad Qualities, but have also utterly overturned the Force of hard Fates[36].

But Worsdale closely echoes the voice of Sibly in attesting that:

there are some Influences so Mighty, as no Power of Man can oppose; such as the fatal Wounds of Death…[37]

The author declares astrology to be an empirical science more than a tradition:

This Science has been gained partly by verified Traditions, but especially by diligent and constant Observations[38].

However, he does not believe that all branches of the science have yet attained a similar level of perfection, professing that genethliacal astrology is:

the most certain Science, and the Master-Piece of Astrology[39].

What he calls ‘State-Astrology’, on the other hand, is more fallible, being:

a Piece of Learning that consisteth much in Conjecture, and is but partly understood; and because much of it dependeth upon great Conjunctions which bestride some Ages of Men between them, wanteth much of Perfection.[40]

As for meteorological astrology, Worsdale argues that it is extremely difficult and uncertain:

The Weather depending much upon the airy Operations, is swayed by meaner Aspects than are human Matters, and therefore the Event is so much the more various and uncertain. Unless it were possible to understand the exact Quantity and Proportion of Weather, whether Fair or Foul, that is like to fall, and to say expressly in what special Climate and Place it shall begin to fall, it is utterly impossible to please all People in all Places with any predictions of this Nature[41].

Worsdale believes that the attainment of astrological knowledge by itself does not make a good astrologer, arguing that that knowledge must be ‘sanctified’ by being mixed with what he calls ‘Heavenly or Supernatural Wisdom’[42] that:

teacheth us to honor Divinity or Theology in the first place, and Astrology in the second[43].

Otherwise, warns Worsdale, the knowledge of astrology can do more harm than good and lead its practitioners down a path of sorcery[44]. He holds that sometimes it pleases God to confound the astrologer, drawing him into error, and that God is displeased by excessive passions for knowledge.[45]

Worsdale holds that the Sun, Moon and Stars are not ‘mere Signs’, but have been invested by God with:

an Authority and Power, to sway and rule over all Things subject unto Day and Night[46].

He continues by arguing for the power of the Sun and Moon based on natural observations of heat and ocean tides respectively, stating for example of the Moon:

… that she is Mistress of this Moisture, as well as of the Night, is apparent by the Tides, which constantly attend her Motion[47].

The stars, on the other hand, have:

a secret and an hidden Way of Rule, whereby they operate imperceptibly in all their Agitations[48]….

Worsdale continues by arguing that the Sun and Moon also exercise:

secret and insensible Operations or Influences… over all the Sons of Day and Night: and herein are written all those Ordinances of the Moon and Stars, which are to be a Law unto Mankind, and to the whole Body of Mortality, so long as the World endureth[49].

He initially expresses uncertainty regarding whether the celestial influences act directly and materially upon the Earth or are mediated by a spiritual agency he refers to as the Soul of the World,[50] a notion he attributes to Platonism[51]. But then he argues more firmly for the existence of such a Soul:

… how possibly could the Sympathies and Antipathies of Nature work such Compliances and Differences at such distances as we see they do, and that as far as it is from Heaven unto the Earth, and that too, without any visible or imaginible Contaction, unless some such animal Virtue be in the World, to carry such an invisible Correspondency between Creature and Creature?[52]

In either case, he believes that the Spirit of God is what actuates the Heavens[53], concluding:

… the Spirit of Almighty God… filleth Heaven and Earth with his presence, and from hence garnisheth the Heavens and causeth the precious Virtues of the Sun, Moon and Stars, to be carried and distributed into all Parts of the World. And thus immediately God ruleth in the Heavens, and ruleth all the World mediately by the Heavens[54].


4. Thomas White

One of the legendary figures of tragedy in the history of astrology is Thomas White, who fell victim to police entrapment as a prelude to a successful prosecution on charges of fortune-telling. He died prematurely after less than a year’s internment in the cold, squalid conditions of an English prison, and is consequently celebrated as a martyr to astrology.[55]

But while he was still a free man, White wrote one of the more substantial early 19th century treatises on astrology, ‘The Beauties of Occult Science Investigated, or the Celestial Intelligencer’ (1811), which extends to 436 pages.

White begins his book with a philosophical introduction, in which he refers to the infusion of all things with a ‘Life’ by virtue of which:

the great masses are held together in their orderly courses, as well as the minutest particles governed in their natural motions, according to the several laws of attraction or gravity with which every partical [sic] of matter is endowed[56].

He continues by arguing on the basis of this essentially scientific observation for astrological influence:

Hence it may be supposed agreeably to the configuration and respective temperament of the heavenly bodies, together with the various configurations or aspects, and influences the one upon the other, and of course upon the individual that is born; for in proportion as these respectively operate together, will be the bent and inclination of the person who is born under such and such position of the celestial Stars.[57]

White goes on to explain astrology in similarly naturalistic terms as:

the effects derived from the amazing powers of mutual attraction of the different parts and masses (great or small) of matter, the one upon the other; which knowledge is to be attained by study and observation of the influences produced by the motions of the heavenly bodies; for as Astronomy hath its origin in the motion and revolution of the Stars, so Astrology is founded on the effects and influences of attraction or gravitation in the same bodies[58]….

Holding to his natural, physical view of astrology, White defends it against possible religious objections on the grounds that:

Astrology cannot be repugnant to the Christian religion, unless it be a sin to study Nature of Astronomy: on the contrary, it has a tendency to elevate the mind to the contemplation of God the Father of all[59].

Then he argues for the utility to humans of fore-knowledge of future events on the grounds that ‘fore-warned [is] fore-armed’. He further argues for the advantages of self-awareness in respect of the ‘features or dispositions’ in the individual’s nature, especially in relation to ‘evil’ tendencies’:

that he may thereby, when he is arrived to years of maturity, (and, let us hope of discretion also,) make use of his reason and better judgement, as a correcter of the natural proneness to vice, which he sees predominant in his constitution.[60]

Characterising astrology as ‘the most ancient of all the human sciences’, White cites examples of celebrated ancient cultures in which it has historically been practised and famed individuals who have practised it, arguing on this basis that:

… finding that Astrology in all ages has been much professed and encouraged by many eminent and exalted characters, surely then no person has the least reason to deem this study beneath their most profound attention.[61]

He professes that astrology:

directs persons, in a natural way, how they may most fortunately manage their affairs in the World; as by elections, to chuse a fit time to begin any considerable enterprise; by directions of the Planets in their nativities, and annual revolutions, to discover the most dangerous or propitious times that are approaching to any Native[62].

In the opening part of the first main chapter of his book, White further reconciles his naturalistic view of astrology with the prevailing Christianity of his time by asserting that:

Astrology comprehends every operation that proceeds from the frame of nature, and furnishes us with a knowledge of the occult virtues of all earthly substances, and of the nature and end of every particle of God’s Creation[63].

He extends his argument for astrology as a tool for understanding the works of God the creator by implying that God intended for the Sun, Moon and Stars to ‘communicate wisdom and happiness to mankind’ by the study of their influences[64].

Citing Biblical parables commonly interpreted as relating to the enlightenment of the understanding of Mankind, White deduces that it is:

the duty of every rational creature to improve by this divine example, and to increase their imperfect knowledge in the subjects of creation[65].



This survey has identified that in the early decades of the English astrological revival, all the major literary exponents of astrology regarded the study of astrology as being both in keeping with the Will of God from a Christian perspective and practically beneficial from a human perspective.

There is also broad consensus among the writers we have studied on astrology being a natural science, with the movements of the luminaries and planets about the celestial sphere being not merely Signs but also causes of events on Earth, possibly mediated by a Soul of the World.

And yet, despite this acknowledged naturalistic causality, the ultimate responsibility for the so-called ‘second causes’ constituted by the motions of the celestial bodies is ascribed to the Almighty Creator. And despite this unified system of cosmological causality, the Christian doctrine of Free Will is upheld by all the writers, the causal agency of the celestial bodies being held to serve as only a partly deterministic framework within which the will of the individual is the final determinant of the moral choices made in life.

The acknowledgement of the importance of individual free will at this very early stage in modern astrological literature arguably opened the way to the later development of wholly non-deterministic astrological philosophies at variance with the partly deterministic ones that were current at this time, and also foreshadowed astrological writings advocating a quasi-alchemical approach to the transmutation of adverse celestial influences, which would reach their furthest extent in the astrological literature of the late 20th century.



The Astrologer’s Magazine and Philosophical Miscellany – Vol. I of the New Series, and Vol. III of the Work – Printed for W. Locke, No. 12, Red Lion Street, Holborn, London, August, 1793 – January 1794

[De Titis, Placido], [tr. Anonymous], the whole carefully revised by Sibly, Manoah ‘Astronomy and Elementary Philosophy, Translated from the Latin of Placidus de Titus: Wherein is shewn, from Physical and Astronomical Principles, the Nature of Atmospherical Influx, communicated to Earthly Substances by the Motion, Aspects, and Position of the Heavenly Bodies, in forming the whole Anima of Nature, particularly in Man, the Epitome of the Creation! – the World in Miniature! – The whole comprehending, by these efficient Causes and their Effects, the true Doctrine of calculating Nativities, in so plain and simple a Method, as to be perfectly attainable by the meanest Capacity, and in a Manner superior to any yet published in the English Language. To which are added, Introductory Notes and Observations, With a Concise Method of judging Horary Questions, select Aphorisms, and every other Requisite to elucidate Elementary Agency, and to form a complete Body of Astral Knowledge’ Printed by W. Justins, Blackfriars; and sold by Mr. Bew, Pater-noster Row; Mr. Richardson, under the Royal Exchange; Mr. Mathews, in the Strand; Mr. Debrett, Picadilly; Messrs. M. and J. Sibly, Goswell-Street; and Mr. Edmund Sibly, Brick-lane, Spitalfields, London, 1789

[De Titis, Placido], [tr. Anonymous], revised Sibly, Manoah ‘A Collection of Thirty Remarkable Nativities, To Illustrate the Canons, and Prove the True Principles of Elementary Philosophy. Translated from the Latin of Placidus de Titus. To which is prefixed, To facilitate Astronomical Calculations, Tables of Right Ascension, Declination, and Ascensional Difference; Tables of Double Horary Times, Semi-diurnal and Nocturnal Arcs; Sexagenary Tables, and Logistical Logarithms; Tables for equating the Seven Erratics; Table of Fixed Stars, &c. &c. The whole arranged in a concise and regular Method, and exemplified with suitable Matter to elucidate Elementary Agency, and to form an Adept in the Sideral and Sublime Mysteries. Beautified and Embellished with Thirty-Six[66] Elegant Engravings, And the Nativity of that wonderful Phaenomenon, Oliver Cromwell’ Printed by W. Justins, Blackfriars; and sold by Mr. Bew, Pater-noster Row; Mr. Richardson, under the Royal Exchange; Mr. Mathews, in the Strand; Mr. Debrett, Piccadilly; Messrs. M. and J. Sibly, Goswell-Street; and Mr. Edmund Sibly, Brick-lane, Spitalfields, 1789

Heydon, C., jun. Astro-Philo. (pseud.) Assisted by a Person of great Professional Abilities ‘The New Astrology; or, the Art of Predicting and Foretelling Future Events, by the Aspects, Positions, and Influences, of the Heavenly Bodies; Founded on Scripture, Experience, and Reason; The Whole being the Result of many Years’ intense Study and Labour; now first made familiar and easy to any Person of ordinary Talents. In Two Parts. Part I. contains, An easy Introduction to the Whole of this Celestial Science, teaching how to erect a Figure of the Heavens, and to place the Planets and Part of Fortune therein; and directs the Student how to proceed in the Whole of this comprehensive Science. Part II. consists of, The Art of resolving all Sorts of Horary Questions, on any Subject, with Accuracy and Pleasure, and how to give Judgement thereon, viz. Whether the Party enquiring shall have Riches or Poverty, Sickness or Health, Prosperous Voyages or Journeys, Friends or Enemies, Wives or Children, Money lent, or due for Goods sold, &c. &c. Any other Questions of Importance are solved by this Science; with Celestial Figures; and many curious Questions answered’ The Second Edition, with large Additions, Improvements, and an Appendix – Printed for G. Kearsley, No. 46, Fleet-Street; T. Lovewell, Stationer, No. 158, St. John-Street; T. Wagstaffe, Brick-Lane, Spitalfields; and W. Battersby and Son, facing Artillery-Lane, Bishopsgate-Street Without, London, 1786

Heydon, C., Astrophilo. (pseud.) ‘Astrology. The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature, Being a New Doctrine of Nativities, Reduced to Accuracy and Certainty; Or, the Art of Determining Future Events by the Only True Method, the Radical Figure of Birth. A Science, by many years intense Study and Labour, brought to a Degree of Perfection hitherto unknown. The whole containing The Essence, Beauties, and Substance of all Pieces, Ancient and Modern, conjoined; a Variety of new Matter added; the Jargon of obsolete, and the Errors of Modern Authors expunged; and digested in a Manner so plain, familiar, and easy, that a Person of the meanest Capacity, may become Proficient in it. Demonstrating to a Certainty Every Person’s future Rise or Fall in the World, And shewing him whether he is subject to have Riches, Poverty, Honour, Dignities, Sickness, Health, Marriage, Children, Friends, Enemies. No matter whether descended from a Prince or a Beggar. Also, a Curious Collection of Nativities, Never Before Published’ Printed for A. Hamilton, No. 18, near Gray’s-Inn-Gate; Holborn, London, 1792

The Horoscope, Monthly Magazine of Science and Literature [ed. Zadkiel Tao Sze, i.e. Morrison, Richard]: [Part I] January 1841 – No. IV, Part VI, Saturday, May 29, 1841 – William Charlton Wright, 4, Paternoster Row, Cheapside, London, 1843 (= complete set in bound reprint form)

Sibly, Ebenezer ‘A Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology: Or, the Art of Foretelling Future Events and Contingencies, by the Aspects, Positions, and Influences of the heavenly Bodies. Founded on Natural Philosophy, Scripture, Reason, and the Mathematics. In Four Parts – Embellished with Curious Copper-Plates’ Printed for Green & Co., Mo. 176, Near Surry-Street, Strand, London, 1788

White, Thomas ‘The Beauties of Occult Science Investigated; Or, the Celestial Intelligencer: In Two Parts. Part the First Containing A Plain, Easy, and Comprehensive Introduction to Astrology, With All the Requisites for Obtaining a Familiar and General Knowledge of the Science; A New Table of Ascensional Differences For Thirty Degrees of Declination to the Poles of the Houses for the British Metropolis; And many other Particulars never before published. Part the Second Containing the Method of Calculating, Directing, and Judging Nativities, both according to the Argolian System and the Doctrine of Ptolemy: The Whole Illustrated by the Nativities of Several Eminent Personages, viz. Lewis XVI (late King of France), Napoleon Bonaparte; And several others never before made public’ Printed for and Published by Anne Davis, 2, Albion Buildings, Aldersgate Street; and J. S. Dickson, 18, Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row,  London, 1811

Worsdale, John, Astronomer ‘Celestial Philosophy, or Genethliacal Astronomy, Containing the Only True Method of Calculating Nativities, Made Plain and Easy’ Published by Messrs. Longman, & Co., 47 Paternoster Row, London; and may be had of the Author, or Printer, and all Booksellers in the United Kingdom. – M. Keyworth, Printer, Lincoln, undated[67].

Worsdale, John ‘Genethliacal Astrology. Comprehending an Enquiry into, and Defence of the Celestial Science: the Rectification of Nativities, by the Trutine of Hermes; with Proofs of the Verity of Elementary Influx and Sydereal Affection, Exemplified in a Variety of Genitures, Investigated Agreeably to the System of Ptolemy. To which is added, an Appendix, Containing Remarks on the Nativity of a Gentleman Now Living, Shewing the Different Influences of the Planets Between a Natural and a Violent Death. A Judgment on the Figure of Heaven at the Sun’s Ingress into Aries, 1798. With other Curious, Interesting, and Important Speculations’ Second Edition – Printed and sold for the Author by Messrs. Ridge, Newark; Sold also by Messrs. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, London; Drury, Lincoln; Hurst, Grantham; Thornill, Sleaford; and all other Booksellers, 1798



[1] [De Titis, P.], op. cit., both vols.

[2] See testimony of J. B. in The Astrologer’s Magazine and Philosophical Miscellany, August, 1793, pp. 19-21

[3] [De Titis, P.] ‘Astronomy and Elementary Philosophy’, p. A2

[4] Hereafter, all references to Sibly refer to Ebenezer Sibly

[5] Sibly, E., op. cit., p. v

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sibly, E., op. cit., p. 13

[8] Sibly E., op. cit, pp. 13-14

[9] Sibly, E., op. cit., p. 16

[10] Sibly, E., op. cit., pp. 19-20

[11] Sibly, E., op. cit., p. 19

[12] Sibly, E., op. cit., p. 20

[13] Sibly, E., op. cit., pp. 21-2

[14] Heydon Jun., ‘The New Astrology’, p. v

[15] Ibid.

[16] Heydon Jun., ‘The New Astrology’, p. vi

[17] Heydon Jun. ‘The New Astrology’, pp. vi-vii

[18] Heydon Jun. ‘The New Astrology’, p. ix

[19] Ibid.

[20] Heydon Jun. ‘The New Astrology’, p. x

[21] Heydon, Astrophilo., ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’, p. iii

[22] Heydon, Astrophilo., ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’, pp. iii-iv

[23] Heydon, Astrophilo., ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’, p. vi

[24] Heydon, Astrophilo., ‘The Wisdom of Solomon in Miniature’, p. 1

[25] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 1

[26] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 3

[27] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 4

[28] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 8

[29] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 56-7

[30] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 8.

[31] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 20

[32] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 6-7

[33] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 12-13

[34] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 14-20

[35] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 21

[36] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 64-5

[37] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 22

[38] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 25

[39] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 30

[40] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 29

[41] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 78-9

[42] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 31

[43] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 32

[44] Ibid.

[45] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 34-5

[46] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 36-7

[47] Worsdale ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 37-8

[48] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 39-40

[49] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 40

[50] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 49-50

[51] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 58

[52] Ibid.

[53] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, p. 51

[54] Worsdale, ‘Genethliacal Astrology’, pp. 59-60

[55] See the account recorded by a correspondent pen-named ‘A Lover of Science’ in The Horoscope, May, 1841, pp. 198-9

[56] White, T., op. cit., p. 8

[57] Ibid.

[58] White, T., op. cit., p. 9

[59] White, T., op. cit., p. 10

[60] Ibid.

[61] White, T., op. cit., p. 15

[62] White, T., op. cit., pp. 11-12

[63] White, T., op. cit., p. 16

[64] White, T., op. cit., pp. 16-17

[65] White, T., op. cit., p. 17

[66] NB: for the tables promised by the title, see the separately bound volume ‘Supplement to Placidus de Titus’: they are not included in this one. Note also that only 32 plates (inc. frontis.) are present in this volume, as compared with the 36 promised

[67] Library records show 1828

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