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HEYDON, JOHN (fl. 1667), astrologer and attorney, son of Francis Heydon of Sidmouth in Devonshire, by Mary Chandler of Worcestershire, was born at his father's house in Green Arbour, London, 10 Sept. 1629, and baptised at St. Sepulchre's Church. His father belonged to the Devonshire branch of the family of Heydon of Norfolk. According to his own account (Introduction to the Holy Guide) he was educated at Tardebigg in Worcestershire among his mother's friends at first by John Dennis and afterwards by the Rev. George Linacre. In consequence of the outbreak of the civil war he did not go to the university, but is said to have joined the king's army; the statement that he commanded a troop of horse at Edgehill cannot be accepted if he has given the date of his birth correctly. In 1651 he went abroad, and of the next few years he gives the following account: ‘It was,’ he says, ‘my fortune to travel into other countreys, first with a merchant, as factor; he dyed; afterwards I was forced to exercise myself in martial disciplines in Spain and Turkey,’ and after many adventures ‘went to Zant, from thence carried to Sevel, and then to the Spaw, and when I came to England I followed the law, and gave a very ignorant fellow five-and-thirty pounds to instruct me in that honourable profession; he, like a duns, took my money and left me as ignorant as when I came to him; it was my good hap to meet with an honest man, and by his instructions I came to be what I am’ (Introd. to the Prophetical Trumpeter). He was ‘indented a clark’ 20 June 1652. In 1655 he was living in Clifford's Inn, practising as an attorney and casting nativities, but probably about that time he was imprisoned by the Protector's order in Lambeth House and his books burnt. The reason Heydon assigned was that he had foretold the date of Cromwell's death by hanging (cf. Carte, Ormonde, ed. 1851, iv. 293). He continued in confinement for two years. In 1659 he complains he was ‘vext with law suites,’ and he hints that it was on his wife's account.

Heydon was intimate with all the astrologers of the Restoration. In 1662 he fell out with Lilly, whom he termed ‘sterquilini filius,’ but in 1664 he made offers of friendship, attributing the misunderstanding to the insinuations of John Gadbury [q. v.], formerly a friend of Heydon, who had recently cheated him out of 10l.

In 1663 Heydon was arrested and confined for a few weeks in the Gatehouse during his examination on a charge of putting treasonable matter into books which he took to Lillicraft to be printed. He also seems in 1664 to have suffered imprisonment for debt, from which he said he was released by the good offices of the Duke of Buckingham. Heydon's house after 1658 was ‘in Spittalfields, near Bishopsgate, next door to the Red Lion.’ In 1667 he was again in prison, this time accused of ‘treasonable practices in sowing sedition in the navy, and engaging persons in a conspiracy to seize the Tower.’ It was alleged that his patron Buckingham had employed him (ib.) In a letter which he wrote from the Tower to Stephen Mounteagle, dated 13 March 1666–7 (cf. Sir Henry Slingsby's Diary, ed. Parsons, p. 368), he stoutly protests his innocence, and affirms that he was the victim of a villain hired to inform against him.

Heydon married, 4 Aug. 1656, the widow of Nicholas Culpeper [q. v.] He himself, writing in 1662, said: ‘I had loved a lady in Devonshire, but when I seriously perused my nativity, I found the seventh house afflicted, and therefore resolve never to marry;’ but this is merely an imitation of Sir Thomas Browne, from whose ‘Religio Medici’ the preface to the ‘Holy Guide’ is largely taken. He appears to have had a daughter (see ded. of Advice to a Daughter). The date of his death is uncertain; he is usually styled Doctor John Heydon. Heydon is termed by Ashmole ‘an ignoramus and a cheate,’ an opinion in which most of his contemporaries seem to have concurred. He borrowed from Bacon, from Sir Thomas Browne, from Thomas Vaughan, and others, and freely repeated himself. Waite considers that all that is of value in his mysticism is derived from anterior writers; he amusingly admits his obligations to others in the preface to the ‘Harmony of the World.’ Although he did not pretend to be a member of the English brotherhood of Rosicrucians, he explained the Rosicrucian principles to satisfy public curiosity. There is a portrait of Heydon by T. Cross, prefixed to the ‘Holy Guide,’ which appears in other works; another faces the title-page of the ‘Theomagia.’

Heydon wrote: 1. ‘Eugenius Theodidactus. The Prophetical Trumpeter sounding an Allarum to England,’ Lond. 1655, 8vo, dedicated to Henry Cromwell. 2. ‘A New Method of Rosie-Crucian Physick … ,’ Lond. 1658, 4to. 3. ‘Advice to a Daughter in Opposition to the Advice to a Sonne … [by F. Osborne],’ Lond. 1658, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1659; this occasioned various burlesques, such as ‘Advice to Balam's Ass,’ by J. P[ecke], a friend of Lilly. 4. ‘The Idea of the Law Charactered from Moses to King Charles, with the Idea of Government and Tyranny,’ Lond. 1660, 8vo. 5. ‘The Rosie-Crucian Infallible Axiomata,’ &c., Lond. 1660, 12mo, dedicated to the Duke of York. 6. ‘The Holy Guide: leading the Way to the Wonder of the World: (A Compleat Phisitian), teaching the Knowledge of all things, past, present, and to come,’ &c., Lond. 1662, 8vo. In the title he terms himself ‘Philonomos, a Servant of God and a Secretary of Nature.’ The various books into which the ‘Holy Guide’ is divided have different dedications. 7. ‘The Harmony of the World,’ Lond. 1662, 8vo, dedicated to the Duke of Ormonde. 8. ‘The Rosie Cross uncovered,’ Lond. 1662, 8vo. 9. ‘Ocia Imperialia, being Select Exercises of Philosophy, Policy, War, Government,’ Lond. 1663, 8vo. 10. ‘The Wise Man's Crown, or the Glory of the Rosie-Cross,’ Lond. 1664, 12mo. 11. ‘Theomagia, or the Temple of Wisdome,’ Lond. 1664, 8vo. 12. ‘Elhavarenna, or the English Physitians Tutor,’ &c., Lond. 1665, 8vo. 13. ‘Ψονθονφονχια, or a Quintuple Rosie-Crucian Scourge for the due Correction of … George Thompson,’ Lond. 1665, 4to. In the ‘Elhavarenna’ Heydon also mentions 14. ‘Hampaneah Hameguleh,’ and 15. ‘The Fundamental Elements of Moral Philosophy,’ &c. He is credited with 16. ‘A Rosycrucian Theomagical Dictionary’ (see note to Wood, Athenæ Oxon. iv. 362), and at the end of the ‘Idea of the Law’ a number of Heydon's works, probably pamphlets, are advertised, which include, besides writings mentioned already: 17. ‘The Familiar Spirit.’ 18. ‘The Way to Converse with Angels.’ 19. ‘A New Method of Astrology.’ 20. ‘Cabballa, or the Art by which Moses and Elijah did so many Miracles.’ 21. ‘Of Scandalous Nativities, Booker, Sanders, and Lilly.’ 22. ‘Oliver Cromwell: a Tragedy.’ 23. ‘A Tragedy of his Protectorship.’ 24. ‘A Comedy on the Phanatique Parliament.’ Hazlitt (Handbook, ed. 1867, p. 268) mentions ‘A threefold Discourse betweene three neighbours, Algate, Bishopgate, and John Heydon the late Cobbler of Houndsditch … ,’ &c., Lond. 1642, 4to. ‘The Discovery of the Wonderful Preservation of his Excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax,’ &c., Lond. 1647, 12mo, is the work of another John Heydon, who was an army chaplain. It is reprinted in the ‘Somers Tracts’ (ed. 1810), iv. 70.

[Heydon's Works contain many details as to his life, but the biographical notes by Heydon himself and Talbot must not be allowed too much credit; Cal. State Papers, passim; Waite's Real Hist. of the Rosicrucians, ch. xiii.; Hearne's Collect. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii. 85; Watt, Lowndes, and Hazlitt's bibliographical works; authorities quoted; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 23024, f. 173; Hist. MSS. Comm. 12th Rep. App. vii. pp. 44, 45; Ashmole MSS. 2, 339, f. 97, 423, f. 242; notes kindly supplied by Prof. C. H. Firth.]

W. A. J. A.