Arthur Dee

English physician and alchemist

1579   -   1651

country of citizenship: England
language of expression: Latin, Russian
educated at: Westminster School
occupation: physician, writer, alchemist

Arthur Dee (13 July 1579 – September or October 1651) was a physician and alchemist. He was the eldest son of John Dee by his third wife, Jane, daughter of Bartholomew Fromond of East Cheam, Surrey, and was born at Mortlake on 13 July 1579. He accompanied his father in travels through Germany, Poland, and Bohemia. After his return to England he was placed at Westminster School, 3 May 1592, under the tuition of Edward Grant and Camden. Anthony Wood was informed that he subsequently studied at Oxford, but he took no degree, and his college is unknown. Settling in London with the intention of practising 'physic' (medicine) he exhibited at the door of his house a list of medicines which were said to be certain cures for many diseases. The censors of the College of Physicians summoned him to appear before them; but it is not known with what outcome. Proceeding to Manchester, Dee married Isabella, daughter of Edward Prestwych, justice of the peace. Through the recommendation of James I he was appointed one of the physicians to the Tsar Michael I of Russia. He remained in Russia for about fourteen years, principally at Moscow. There he wrote his Fasciculus Chemicus, a collection of writings on alchemy. Returning to England upon the death of his wife in 1637, Dee became physician to King Charles I. Upon his retirement Arthur Dee resided in Norwich, where he became a friend of Sir Thomas Browne. His relationship to Browne has been little explored, one literary critic speculating of this relationship, Little is known of this son of Dee's; one cannot help but wonder however, how much he may have influenced Browne, who was one of the seventeenth century's greatest literary exponents of the type of occult philosophy in which both the Dee's were immersed. Arthur Dee died in September or October 1651 and was buried in St George's Church, Tombland, Norwich. He had seven sons and six daughters. On his death the bulk of Arthur Dee's alchemical manuscripts and books were bequeathed to Sir Thomas Browne. In the early 20th century Rasputin stole a number of Arthur Dee's translations of his father's writings into Russian. They were later reclaimed by the Romanov family and returned to the Imperial Library in Moscow.
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