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Thomas Norton and the “Ordinall of Alchimy”

Nature volume 131, page 520 (08 April 1933) | Download Citation



AS one of the earliest alchemical books in English, the “Ordinall of Alehimy” is of much interest; Dr. M. Nierenstein and Mr. P. F. Chapman are therefore to be thanked for their exhaustive inquiry (Isis, 18, 290–321; 1932) into its authorship. Ashmole, in his “Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum”, is the chief authority for ascribing the “Ordinall” to Thomas Norton of Bristol, who was supposed to have flourished in the fifteenth century. Ashmole's evidence for the authorship of this anonymous poem was that “from the first word of this Proeme, and the Initiall letters of the six following Chapters [namely, ‘Tomais Norton of Briseto’] … we may collect the Authors Name and place of Residence”. As for the date of the book, there is the statement at the end of the seventh chapter: “In this yeare of Christ One thousand foure Hundred seaventy and seaven, This Warke was begun, Honour to God in Heaven”.

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