Genethlialogia, or, The Doctrine of Nativities

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by John Gadbury

An astrologer, John Gadbury authored several pieces on astrology, including a series of yearly "Ephemerides."

In 1658, [Gadbury] published a thoroughly traditional textbook of judicial astrology: Genethlialogia, or, The doctrine of nativities … together with the doctrine of horarie questions. Building on William Lilly's Christian Astrology of 1647, it appeared with that master's imprimatur. By the Restoration two years later, however, he had broken with the radicalism of Lilly, and set out his stall as a royalist and high Anglican. Indeed, he was frequently accused of being a Jacobite and crypto-Catholic, in whose opinion ‘the Coelestial Orbs disown all Anti-Monarchical, Disloyal and Rebellious Principles’ (Diary, 1689). Accordingly, in 1659 he attacked Lilly rancorously in The Novice-Astrologer Instructed and issued a regretful analysis of The Nativity of the Late King Charles, while Britain's Royal Star (1661) found promising portents in the planetary positions at the accession of Charles II. [1]

"Gadbury was falsely accused, on the strength of papers intercepted at the post office, of being implicated in a plot (June 1690) against William III. He was detained in custody eight or ten weeks...[2]

Bibliographic Information

Author: John Gadbury, (1627-1704)

Title: Genethlialogia, or, the Doctrine of Nativities: Containing the Whole Art of Directions and Annual Revolutions, Whereby Any Man (Even of an Ordinary Capacity) may be Enabled to Discover the Most Remarkable and Occult Accidents of His Life, as They Shall Occur unto Him in the Whole Course Thereof, Either for Good or Evil: also Tables for Calculating the Planets Places for any Time, Either Past, Present or to Come, Together with the Doctrine of Horarie Questions which (in the Absence of a Nativity) is Sufficient to Inform Any One of All Manner of Contingencies Necessary to be Known.

Published: London: Printed by Ja. Cottrel for Giles Calvert, William Larnar, and Daniel White, 1658.

Edition: First edition.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as Gadbury's doctrine of nativities. p. fol. and kept by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson sold a copy to the Library of Congress in 1815.[3] Both the Brown Bibliography[4] and George Wythe's Library[5] on LibraryThing list this edition.[6]

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in eighteenth century calf decorated in blind with cover divided into 9 compartments. Spine features five raised bands with blind stamps in compartments and the title on red morocco label with gilt lettering; includes the bookplate of Robert Russell Needham Baron and label of Elizabeth H. Frazer. A previous owner, "Jno: Silvester, 1754" The last page of text includes an inscribed note: "Yo.e udall notary John G(ad)bury." Purchased from Krown & Spellman Booksellers.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.


  1. Patrick Curry, "Gadbury, John (1627–1704)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011, accessed 11 June 2013.
  2. Curry, "Gadbury, John."
  3. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 2nd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983), 4:65 [no.3780].
  4. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  5. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on August 9, 2013,
  6. LibraryThing also notes that "a reissue, with cancel title page, was released in 1661."