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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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Lay Behind Dr. Joseph Warren’s Horoscope

Yesterday I quoted a horoscope for John Hancock signed by Roger Rintoul of London in 1760. It surfaced in 1904 and was published several years later. A couple of years after that, John W. Farrell came into possession of a horoscope of Dr. Joseph Warren. Reportedly “found in a bookstore in St. Louis,” it was dated 1743 and signed Roger Elwes.

Like the Hancock horoscope, this document was uncannily accurate about Warren’s future—particularly striking since the future doctor was only two years old as of the horoscope’s date. Elwes wrote:

Two yeeres before the firste decade of the natives life Saturn shall transmit the place of hys ruling planet mercury which shall implicate advantage to ye native from studie or knowledge of the arts or sciences. It is not clearly shown that the native shall make due and careful use of these advantages altho Jupiter is well Configurated in ye ascendant implicates that hee shall obtaine honour & esteeme in a certaine propter capacity. In or about ye yeere 1768 Saturn shalle transitte the playce of the Sun and this is implicative of some strong contention with magistrates or men in power in that yeere. Untoe this native presageth a violent configuration of the malefics forboden onward. Ye aspect of hylig or giver of life forms a quartile or opposition with each other. these malignent raies are implicative that the natives life is threatend at different times & seasons but averted by occasions showing strong & dignifyd aspects.
And so on.

John W. Farrell got hold of the Hancock horoscope and compared the two. He concluded, “Although this one is dated some seventeen years earlier and the family name in the signature is different, the handwriting is so similar that they appear to have been written by the same person.”

Farrell then removed the antique paper on which the Warren horoscope was written from the board on which it was mounted. The other side of that page was a sheet of music published in or after 1786. That was, of course, eleven years after Warren had died, making the predictive quality of the horoscope much less impressive.

Indeed, one might even suspect that someone had obtained antique paper, written out horoscopes of famous Patriots in an exaggerated archaic language, and signed fictitious names to those documents!

Since Farrell published his findings, we’ve heard nothing more about either the Hancock or Warren horoscopes.


John L Smith Jr said...

AHA! I thought it was too uncanny to have been real! Thanks, J.L.!

Steve MC said...

Glad someone figured that out. And it helps make sense of the first chart, in that I have no idea what the reading meant by “Sign Capricorn,” since Hancock’s Sun sign is a full three days into Aquarius, and “the sun in good aspect with Jupiter” it mentioned is 13 degrees off.

It’d be interesting if the same “astrologer” made up the 1780 chart for the Declaration of Independence, which has been debunked as well.


J. L. Bell said...

The 1780 engraving appears to be authentic, and reflects interest in some system of astrology at the time (like the charts in almanacs). The value of that system or anything similar is another issue.

In contrast, the Hancock and Warren horoscopes probably date from the late 19th century, given when they appeared and the steps taken to conceal their origins (false names and date, concealed source of paper).