J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Hancock’s Horoscope: “free from unbenign radiations of infortunes”

In 1904 The Literary Collector announced that a dealer called Libbie & Company was selling the autograph collection of Prof. Vincenzo Botta and his wife, highlighted by a horoscope for John Hancock cast by Roger Rintoul of London in 1760. The next year, Publishers Weekly reported:
Ginn & Co. have brought out in neat pamphlet form the horoscope of John Hancock, made in 1760. when he was about twenty years old, by Roger Rintoul, of London. . . . The Boston offices of Ginn & Co. stand on the site of the old John Hancock dwelling.
In 1916 the Bostonian Society Proceedings published the same document. Rintoul’s foresighted forecast:
Sign Capricorn. Under this sign native should excel in diplomacy, and have far-reaching ideas, hasty and impulsive, proud, high-minded and determined, and live much on externals and vain show. Diseases indigestion and melancholia. The sun in the second house (M. C.) in good aspect with Jupiter in the radix free from unbenign radiations of infortunes.

The geniture shows an unimportant and quiet life for over two decades, the native will then journey on the seas. The Lord of the 4th in a fixed sign at about age 28 gives wealth by means of the father or aged person and the revolutional ascendant being in the place of the Dragons head in the radix gives at this time honour & worldly esteem of position. And further at this time he shall have conflict with the powers by the malefic rays of Saturn. And further the native at this period is subject to danger of death or disease—the malignancy of the aspect heightens the violence of the means. But as the part of Fortune falls in the same degree as the radix it hath implication of influence averting the danger altogether.

After 10 decades of life in which the native who hath much pride and desire for fine living will attayne still greater honour and preferment the geniture showeth sicknesse still followeth the subject and that he hath great irritability of temper e’en to his best friends. About the age of 35 the native will take wife but showeth no child. The moon falling in the same hyleg in the radical figure of birth gives a violent configuration of the malefics and operates nearly half a decade from his access to dignitys operates at this time to affect the natives life from which he will die implicating from great weaknesse.
Aside from the “10 decades of life,” this description generally matches Hancock’s biography. In his early twenties he did “journey on the seas” to London. He inherited his uncle’s business at age twenty-seven and also came into “honour & worldly esteem of position.” He married at age thirty-eight. Dolly Hancock bore two children, but both died young.

TOMORROW: Another Revolutionary Boston horoscope.


Charles Bahne said...

What evidence do we have that this was in fact first written in 1760, and not written decades later, with the benefit of hindsight?

J. L. Bell said...

As I'll discuss tomorrow, the evidence on that question is pretty clear-cut.

G. Lovely said...

I'll assume from the tone of your comment on tomorrow's discussion that you've read this document comparing Hancock's horoscope with an oddly similar one for Joseph Warren:

Steve MC said...

It’d be interesting to know if Hancock himself provided the time of birth, since the exact birth time of Hancock isn’t known, which throws out a full half of what one can discern from a chart.


The aspects between the planets would be accurate, though, and “the great irritability of temper” is definitely shown by Hancock having his Mars square to his Sun and Mercury, as well as opposite his Moon.

Here’s a modern computer-generated evaluation for Hancock, which gives a 7:30 AM birth time, compared to the 12:13 PM time in the book.


For the best part, skip all the graphs (most of which depend on an accurate birth time) and go to the bottom of the page to the aspects described in “Your intellect and your social life” and so on.