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William Lilly (11 May [O.S. 1 May] 1602 – 9 June 1681), was an English astrologer famed during his time. Lilly was particularly adept at interpreting the astrological charts drawn up for horary questions, as this was his speciality.
Lilly caused much controversy in 1652 for allegedly predicting the Great Fire of London some 14 years before it happened. For this reason many people[who?] believed that he might have started the fire, but there is no evidence to support these claims. He was tried for the offence in Parliament but was found to be innocent.
Early life 
William Lilly was born in 1602 in Diseworth, Leicestershire, where his family were long-established yeomen. He received a basic classical education at the school of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, under John Brinsley; but makes a point of saying that his master never taught logic. At the age of seventeen, his father having fallen into poverty, he went to London and was employed in attendance on an elderly couple. His master, at his death in 1627, left him an annuity of £20; and, Lilly having soon afterwards married the widow, she, dying in 1633, left him property to the value of about £1000.
He began to dabble in astrology, reading all the books on the subject he could fall in with, and occasionally trying his hand at unravelling mysteries by means of his art. The years 1642 and 1643 were devoted to a careful revision of all his previous reading, and in particular, having lighted on Valentine Naibod's Commentary on Alcabitius, he "seriously studied him and found him to be the profoundest author he ever met with." About the same time he tells us that he “did carefully take notice of every grandaction betwixt king and parliament, and did first then incline to believe that as all sublunary affairs depend on superior causes, so there, was: a possibility of discovering them by the configurations of the superior bodies." And, having thereupon "made some essays," he "found encouragement to proceed further, and ultimately framed to himself that method which he ever afterwards followed."
Lilly's most comprehensive book was published in 1647 and was entitled Christian Astrology. It is so large that it came in three separate volumes in modern times, and it remains popular even today and has never gone totally out-of-print. It is considered one of the classic texts for the study of traditional astrology from the Middle Ages, in particular horary astrology, which is mainly concerned with predicting future events or investigating unknown elements of current affairs, based on an astrological chart cast for the time a particular question is asked of the astrologer. Lilly studied thousands of horary charts, most of the time successfully giving correct answers for a wide range of questions from the location of missing fishes to the outcome of battles. Worked examples of horary charts are found in Volume 2 of Christian Astrology.
He then began to issue his prophetical almanacs and other works, which met with serious attention from some of the most prominent members of the Long Parliament. Lilly was on intimate terms with Bulstrode Whitelocke, William Lenthall the speaker, Sir Philip Stapleton, Elias Ashmole and others. Even John Selden seems to have acknowledged him, and probably the chief difference between him and the mass of the community at the time was that, while others believed in the general truth of astrology, he ventured to specify the future events to which he referred.
In 1650, Lilly wrote a preface to Sir Christopher Heydon's An Astrological Discourse with Mathematical Demonstrations, a defence of astrology written about 1608 which was first published posthumously, largely at the expense of Elias Ashmole.
Retirement and death 
After the Restoration he very quickly fell into disrepute. His sympathy with the parliament, which his predictions had generally shown, was not calculated to bring him into royal favour. He came under the lash of Samuel Butler, who, making allowance for some satiric exaggeration, has given in the character of Sidrophel a probably not very incorrect picture of the man; and, having by this time amassed a tolerable fortune, he bought a small estate at Hersham in Surrey, to which he retired, and where he diverted the exercise of his peculiar talents to the practice of medicine. He died in 1681. In 2003 a commemorative plaque was placed next to the disused Aldwych tube station on the Strand. Lilly lived in a house on the site of the former Strand tube station, Aldwych, 1627-1665. 
Modern influence 
The publication of a facsimile of the original 1647 edition of Lilly's Christian Astrology in 1985 by Regulus Publishing Company Ltd., in the UK, brought about a renaissance in astrological scholarship in North America and Europe, and also a transformation of the techniques of modern astrology. Olivia Barclay and other British astrologers began to unearth Lilly's astrological work, and were influential in the eventual re-publication of Christian Astrology.
- William Lilly, Monarchy or No Monarchy in England (London, 1652.)
- Parker, pp. 26–31.
- City of Westminster green plaques http://www.westminster.gov.uk/services/leisureandculture/greenplaques/
- Patrick Curry, Prophecy and Power: Astrology in Early Modern England, Princeton University Press, 1989.
- William Lilly, Christian Astrology, Book 1: An Introduction to Astrology; Book 2: The Resolution of All Manner of Questions, 1647. 2nd ed., 1659. Re-published by Astrology Classics (Bel Air, Maryland), 2004; by Ascella Publications, ed. D. Houlding, London, 1999; and [in facsimile of 1647 edition] by Regulus Publishing Company Ltd., London, 1985.
- William Lilly, Christian Astrology, Book 3: An Easie And Plaine Method Teaching How to Judge upon Nativities, 1647. 2nd ed., 1659. Re-published by Astrology Classics (Bel Air, Maryland), 2004; by Ascella Publications, ed. D. Houlding, London, 2000; and [in facsimile of 1647 edition] by Regulus Publishing Company Ltd., London, 1985.
- William Lilly, History of His Life and Times from the year 1602 to 1681, 1715, London, by Elias Ashmole. Re-published by Kessinger, 2004.
- William Lilly and Elias Ashmole, Lives of Those Eminent Antiquaries Elias Ashmole and Mr. William Lilly, published by T. Davies, 1772, London. Reprinted by Kessinger from 1942 edition.
- Derek Parker, Familiar to All: William Lilly and Astrology in the Seventeenth Century, London, Cape, 1973.
- Barbara Howard Traister, The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: works and days of Simon Forman, Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 2001.
- Lilly's account of his life and the story of Christian Astrology — PDF download of Lilly's introduction to his work, with annotations by Deborah Houlding
- Works by William Lilly at Project Gutenberg
- The Life & Work of William Lilly
- Christian Astrology (1647) — Volumes 1 & 2 — Lilly's complete tome in PDF and Word format
- William Lilly Biography, Rules for Horary Questions & Examples
- Christian Astrology (1647)
- William Lillly (1644), SUPERNATURAL SIGHTS AND APPARITIONS
- Anima Astrologiae, GUIDO BONATUS by William Lilly, Student in Astrology