William Lilly 1602-1681

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William LILLY 1602-1681

Biographical Note

Born at Diseworth, Leicestershire, son of William Lilly, yeoman. Educated at a local grammar school, he was too poor to attend university, and moved to London where he improved his fortune by marrying a wealthy widow, while developing knowledge in astrology and magic. He benefited from the patronage of William Pennington, MP. He began publishing almanacs in the 1640s, while becoming involved with supporting the parliamentary cause; his almanacs were very popular, as was his Christian astrology (1647). During the succeeding decades he developed a thriving business and reputation as an expert on astrology, widely consulted for advice from all sectors of society; his time was largely divided between London and Hersham, Surrey.


Lilly's books were bought after his death for £50 by Elias Ashmole; 146 books in the Ashmolean collection can be identified as being his.


  • Curry, Patrick. "Lilly, William (1602–1681), astrologer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Feisenberger, H. A. Sale catalogues of libraries of eminent persons: 11: scientists, London, 1975, 3.
  • Gunther, R. T. The Ashmole printed books, Bodleian Quarterly Record 6 (1930), 193-5.