The description of the topography of his dream, given by this Londoner born, is very exact. The gate of Aldgate, taken down in 1606, was the eastern postern of the City, not far from St. Botolph's Curch. So the lane of pikemen was a very long one, or seems so to us, who know the distance covered with hundreds of buildings and a network of streets.

There was little time now for him to devote to alchemy by day. His work lay in a more practical direction: -

"July 17. I willed the Fellows to com to me by nine the next day. July 18. They cam. It is to be noted of the great pacifications, unexpected of man, which happened this Friday; for in the fore-noone (betwene nine and ten) when the Fellows were greatly in doubt of my heavy displeasure, bu reason of their manifold misusing of themselves against me, I did with all lenity interteyn them, and shewed the most part of the things that I had brought to pass at London for the Colleg good; and told Mr. Carter (going away) that I must speak with him alone. Robert Leghe and Charles Legh [the singing men] were by. Secondly, the great sute between Redich men and me was stayed, and by Mr. Richard Holland, his wisdom. Thirdly, the organs, uppon conditions, wer admitted. And fourthly, Mr. Williamson's resignation granted, for a preacher to be gotten from Cambridge."

Richard Holland, of Reddish and Heaton House, was a man of some note in Manchester, a feoffee of the Grammar School, and three or four times sheriff of the county. The "preacher gotten from Cambridge" to succeed the last unsatisfactory curate was William Bourne, a Fellow of St. John's. "July 31. We held our audit, I and the Fellows, for the two yeres last past in my absence: Olyver Carter, Thomas Williams and Robert Birch, Charles Legh, the elder, being receyver." This entry in the diary seems to make it plain that Dee was absent from Manchester during the whole of the two years of which we have no account. In July, too, Dee records the loan of his second part of Holinshed's Chronicle to Mr. Randall Kemp.

In September, the commissioners appointed by the Bishop of Chester again met, and called Dee before them in the church, "about thre of the clok after none, and did deliver to me certain petitions put up by the Fellows against me to answer before the 18th of this month. I answered them all eodem tempore; Yet they gave me leave to write at leisure." The commissioners were Richard Holland and William Langley, both of whom we have met before, with the rector of Stockport, Richard Gerard. Things perhaps were set on a little better foundation for a time. Points of dispute were referred to the steward, Humphrey Davenport, "Counsayler, of Grays Inn," and Oliver Carter, the contentious Fellow, died within three or four years.

The last troublous years in Manchester must be briefly passed over, and indeed the material for them is scanty. Dee had to borrow money on more plate, "double gilt potts with cover and handells," "bowles and cupps with handles," from Edmund Chetham, the high master of the Grammar School; and he had not been able to redeem them when Chetham's father and executor made his will in March, 1603. He says in it that Dee delivered to his son "six severall parcells of Plate to be kept as a payne or pledge for the same [loan], which by reason of my said executorshippe are now come into my possession," and he wills the ten pounds lent upon them to his other sons Humfrey and Ralphe. When, if ever, the pieces were redeemed, does not appear. Another valuable article - "a silver salt, dubble gilt, with a cover, waying 14 oz.," had to be deposited with Adam Holland in January 1601, for a loan of five pounds for one year. Dee's store of plate, though large, was being heavily drained and irrevocably scattered in this way. The old man doubtless saw his treasures, the gifts of friends and patrons of half a century, disappear with feelings of deep chagrin and disappointment, mingled with memories of past triumphs, and little light upon the future. A piece of the plate came to light at the Tudor Exhibition in the New Gallery in 1890, when a silver cup, the property of Mrs. John Hookham Frere (said to be Dee's great-great-niece), was exhibited. Writing of this cup to her son Bartle Frer, about the end of the eighteenth century, Mrs. Frere says, "My great thrice-great uncle, John Dee, because he was a wise man, was taken for a conjurer. I have his silver cup now here with me, and you may drink of it, but I know no story in the family that he ever divined by it. It serves me here for a sugar basan." Evidently Mrs. Frere took an entirely rational view of the powers attributed to her famous ancestor.

Previous page Table of Contents Next page