Talk:John Dee

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Former featured article John Dee is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on March 19, 2005.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
November 10, 2004 Featured article candidate Promoted
October 30, 2006 Featured article review Kept
August 23, 2013 Featured article review Demoted
Current status: Former featured article

To the Author(s)[edit]

This is such a beautifully written entry. I have enjoyed reading it immensely and am pleased to see that it is a featured article. Thank you

In fiction[edit]

What no mention of John Dee from the famous Blackadder series? Maybe someone could add a little about that?

I think the reason no-one's mentioned it is that John Dee doesn't appear, or even get mentioned, in Blackadder. Daibhid C (talk) 11:37, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

I have just finished reading 'Prophecy' by S J Parris. Dee appears as one of the major characters and is treated quite sympathetically. Many of the events in the book reflect the information supplied in the article. (talk) 12:54, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Seems that everyone mentions literature works, but not other forms of arts like songs or paintings. (talk) 12:38, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Kelley, Kelly[edit]

The link to Kelly (Kelley) appears to use different spelling than the article. Cimon avaro

Not to worry, there's now a "REDIRECT" to the other spelling. -- Someone else 02:52 Apr 14, 2003 (UTC)
Everything's going to Kelley now. P. Riis 04:56, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I have moved the following paragraph from the main page because there is no way that everyone would agree that this happened if levitation is to be taken to mean that it was done psychically. Ezra Wax

In February 1996, Manchester Area Psychogeographic levitated the Corn Exchange in Manchester to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Dr John Dee's arrival in Manchester, as Warden of the Collegiate Church, later the Cathedral.

British Museum objects[edit]

The objects listed in the "Artefacts" section can actually be viewed on the British Museum's website--the problem is, you can only go directly to the items using an absurdly long dynamic URL:

[1] (it widens the page if I actually leave it naked)

I feel nervous about making a permanent link to this kind of dynamic URL. The other option is to link to the search page, and tell the user to search for "Dee" but that seems kind of sloppy. The other thing I'm not sure about is whether the link should go with the discussion of the objects, or in the "External links" section. My initial inclination would be to put the link in that section of the article, but that seems to go against house style. Any thoughts? PRIIS 01:40, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I updated the dynamic link as the old one no longer worked.--Snicker 15:29, 21 December 2006 (UTC)


Dee often traveled throughout Europe as an agent of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, Elizabeth's principal secretary. Dee's reports were signed "007", and is the origin James Bond's designation.

I'm moving this to talk, because there's no evidence for it. The idea of Dee as a spy came from a book written by Richard Deacon in the late '60s, but his argument is highly speculative and not really taken seriously. Dee did have contact with Cecil and (more to the point) Walsingham at different times of his life, but to say he was Cecil's agent would be extremely misleading. I've never seen any evidence for the 007 part: Dee sometimes signed with a delta. Of course, if this can be backed up, it should go back in the article. PRiis 07:12, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

True, but the notion that John Dee was the original 007 is well-known, see for example [2] on Perhaps the above information could be included with the caveat that the evidence for it is scant, and even the explanation of why the notion exists in the first place. --Susurrus 06:00, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Harleian MS 6986 fol. 45. (figure 1 in Peter French's "John Dee: An Elizabethan Magus") in the British Museum is a letter signed by Dee and sent to Elizabeth dated 10th Nov 1588 and sent from Bohemia to England is signed with a simple "John D" with what looks to be the number 8 as a prefix... the idea that 007 was used as code for Dee seems pretty silly when he's writing to her and signing his name without a care all the way in Trebon. Furthermore I agree with PRiis, there seems to be no evidence at all that Dee was 007 besides it being written that he was.. provides no evidence at all, perhaps someone could reference this? ie what Deacon says and the evidence he uses (or doesnt). Dee was obviously in contact with the crown and gave them all sorts of info, but thats not the same as being a James Bond (besides the fact he slept with someones wife). Saul Vodanovic

This is a heavily referenced piece on the issue explaining how it came about with examples. (Emperor 04:22, 19 December 2006 (UTC))

But perhaps, nonetheless, the reference to the Stephen Fry television show doesn't belong in the main article on Dee ? I don't think such an ephemeral reference even merits inclusion in the 'Popular Culture' section. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:38, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

You are correct, it does not belong in the biographical section and I've removed it. Yworo (talk) 16:14, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Spanish armada[edit]

I removed the following text: When the Spanish Armada was defeated by the British in 1588, Dee was credited by the Queen with having conjured up the storms that decimated the Spanish fleet. The design of the talisman he used in the supposed act of magic was incorporated into the medal awarded to naval officers for achievements in this series of naval battles. With an article on a figure like Dee, I think it's very important to strictly separate the fact from the fantasy. Dee was decidedly out of favor with Elizabeth by 1588, and was not even aware of the defeat of the Armada until months afterwards. PRiis 17:57, 29 July 2005 (UTC) There is a strange entry in one of the spiritual diaries which has an extremely tenuous reference to a threat to England from a foreign fleet in the early 1580s.. the rumours about Dee sinking the fleet by conjuring the storms seems to date from the 17th C so really cant be much more than adding his reputation as a magician. The medallion mentioned actually credits God with destroying the Spanish, 'God blew and they were scattered' (paraphrasing) which makes sense considering it fits with English Protestant sentiment. Saul Vodanovic

Perpetual motion[edit]

I removed this sentence:

In his later years, Dee reported seeing a perpetual motion machines during his travels (with a pension from Elizabeth I), but wasn't allowed a closer look.

It doesn't convey much as it is. PRiis 22:32, 12 November 2005 (UTC)

Restoring, as it's part the history of perpetual motion. JDR

Do you have any source for this? Any more details at all? As a side matter, this is in the wrong part of the article, since Dee's travels ended in 1589. PRiis 02:34, 4 December 2005 (UTC)


  • Krieg, Eric, "Eric's history of Perpetual Motion and Free Energy Machines". [original source]
  • "The Book of My Life, Girolamo Cardano" [from a]
    • "with Girolamo Cardano [...] investigated a perpetual motion device"

Sincerely, JDR 21:13, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

As for sources: "Eric's History of Perpetual Motion and Free Energy Machines" is just not a reliable source. If it were, any GeoCities page that made any assertion about anything would be a reliable source. Cardano, on the other hand, is a reliable source. (Your quote, though, is actually from Anthony Grafton's introduction, not from Cardano's book itself.) If that is what you were basing your assertion on, however, your statement contains several errors: Dee met Cardano in 1552 in London, not when he was on his "travels," and, of course, that was six years before Elizabeth was queen--obviously, she was not in a position to give a pension to Dee, which, in fact, she never did anyway.
The other part of my quesiton was about details. All Grafton says is "the two of them investigated a perpetual motion device." We now have even fewer "details" than we started with. Without putting it in the context of Dee's thought, this assertion serves no purpose. John Dee saw lots of things in his long life. Perpetual motion was not an important part of Dee's intellectual or spiritual interests. By highlighting this little fact, we falsify Dee by making it seem more important than it ever was.
You said there is a "History of Perpetual Motion" article. If you really want to salvage this bit of information, maybe it could be a footnote to that article. John Dee, because of his history and his interests, is naturally attracts a vast amount of false and distorted information--that's why we have to be extremely careful with the facts and extra vigilant in keeping the article accurate. PRiis 05:01, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
1st "Eric's History of Perpetual Motion and Free Energy Machines" is a respectable resource on such history.
2nd the two of them investigated a perpetual motion device and Perpetual motion was noted by Dee in his travels
3rd It's applicable to this article and should be noted.
4th Zealously excluding valid and citable information is not acceptable.
Sincerely, JDR
Personal websites and blogs are not acceptable as sources, except on the rare occasion that a well-known person, or a known professional journalist or researcher in a relevant field, has set up such a website. Remember that it is easy for anybody to create a website and to claim to be an expert in a certain field, or to start an "expert group", "human rights group", church, or other type of association. Several million people have created their own blogs in the last few years. They are not regarded as acceptable sources for Wikipedia. See Wikipedia:Reliable sources for more information. -- Wikipedia:Verifiability
You still haven't addressed the other factual errors I've pointed out. PRiis 20:57, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Eric Krieg isn't "anybody" ... he founded the Philadelphia Association of Critical Thinking known as PhACT and is a well known skeptic on "perpetual motion". J. D. Redding 16:44, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

Look, he could be the world's leading authority on perpetual motion or Hummel figurines--the point is, how credible a source is he on Tudor history and 16C mathematical and esoteric thought? That's what this article is about. In the single sentence in which he mentions John Dee (with no indication of source whatsoever) he claims that Dee received a pension from Elizabeth, which is false. In fact, the lack of support from Elizabeth is a recurring theme in Dee's biography. How can we trust someone who gets a fundamental point so wrong?
What about substituting this as a compromise: In 1552, Dee met Gerolamo Cardano in London: during their acquaintance they investigated a perpetual motion machine as well as a gem purported to have magical properties.
At least this is solidly sourced, and it includes information on Cardano that should be included anyway. PRiis 22:53, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, the pension part is not Eric Krieg's page at all. Where did you get that? In any case, it's wrong--Dee never received a pension from Elizabeth, so no matter what, that needs to be removed, as well as the statement that Dee met Cardano on his travels. PRiis 23:01, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
OK, it's been a month with no objection, so I've gone ahead and made the change. PRiis 23:51, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Christ's College Manchester[edit]

I don't want to insert anything myself as I would not want to unwittingly detract from such a classic and highly-regarded contribution. However, readers may wish to know that the school named as Christ's College (founded 1515 by Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter) went on to become better known as Manchester Grammar School, in which form it still exists; I think an addition in the form (now Manchester Grammar School) with a link to that school's webpage ( might be made after the article reference to Christ's College, especially as no such establishment now exists and the wikification of it is misleading.

Incidentally, another web page I've seen on John Dee opines that he was not a good warden (headmaster) (I think the word 'disastrous' was used) - he can't have been all that bad if the establishment still exists - at least he did no lasting damage!

For what it is worth, I tend to agree with Dr John Clarke, a Research Fellow at Manchester University's Psychology Dept. in the 1980's and a John Dee enthusiast (and author and producer of a playlet in which I appeared as John Dee!), that while Dee may or may not have been a natural teacher of children, he was respected by the pupils, brought a great deal of kudos to a provincial school and had a considerable effect on the city as a whole and its academics in particular; setting the tone for original research and applied science. Knowing him I believe John Clarke had firm evidence for saying this - but I regret I was not privy to it. Herra 15:31, 18 December 2005 (UTC)

I live in Manchester and went to the Manchester Grammar School - hence I would love to know more about his work there and what is effect was on the city as a whole. Where can I find out about this? ThePeg 15:07, 27 October 2006 (UTC

Thanks for the info--that's very interesting! I've gone ahead and made the link to Manchester Grammar School. PRiis 23:55, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

I think that some wires are being crossed here! Dee was made Warden of Manchester College, but this is a separate institution from the Grammar School. The old parish church of Manchester became a Collegiate Church in, I think, 1422. This meant that it was the responsibility of a College of Priests, a kind of spiritial corporation, comprising a Warden, Fellows, and Choristers. The community resided in a building that is now Chethams School of Music. The College was surpressed in the course of the reformation, but refounded as a protestant institution - there is a charter granted by Elizabeth I on view in the Cathedral.

Dee, however, did not reside in the original building, which was owned by the Earl of Derby in his time. He probably lived in the now vanished Deanery, off Deansgate. Nevertheless, there is a table that generations of Chetham's boys have pointed out, bearing the 'devil's hoofmark'. This was a supposed relic of his conjurations.

The illustration in the article shows an alleged incident of necromancy performed by Dee and Kelly in the churchyard of Walton-le-Dale, near Preston.

--Train guard 15:05, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Why the "in fiction" section has to go[edit]

Example: In Philip Pullman's novel Northern Lights (US title: The Golden Compass), Dee is mentioned briefly in an alternate Elizabethan England. This is not a statement about Dee, but about Philip Pullman's novel. If that novel gets an article it can be mentioned there.

In the [Wikipedia:Featured article review/John Dee FA review], Salix Alba argued: that section demonstates his impact today. Quite a few well know authors have used him as a sort of iconic figure. OK, so let's say something about the impact without putting up such a silly list. --Pjacobi 12:34, 3 October 2006 (UTC)

If you want to prosify it, go ahead; but the information is worth keeping. -- Gwern (contribs) 14:09, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
We disagree about this. See my statement above. A completely insane but pragmatic solution would be a spin-off article John Dee in fiction, just like Tachyons in fiction. --Pjacobi 14:44, 3 October 2006 (UTC)
I have wielded the flame-thrower on it, leaving the sturdier-looking saplings but scorching (or indeed scotching) the weeds. I hope it is better. -- ALoan (Talk) 18:30, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
I have just created Thomas Edison in popular culture and have started and worked on various others (and proposed more). There does seem to be some kind of tipping point that is reached in an entry where some editors want it gone and others think it is notable enough to be worth mentioning. The solution does seem to be splitting it off to a separate entry and I'd suggest taking the information here and moving it to John Dee in popular culture. If we can get a consensus on this I'd be happy to do it. (Emperor 15:22, 2 January 2007 (UTC))
It isn't really worth it. Most of the completely inane additions get removed fairly quickly, and they wouldn't be any better in separate article - if they aren't relevant, they won't be relevant in a sub-article either. Yomanganitalk 16:04, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Once again, my faith in the Wikipedia philosophy has been shattered. Why did some "editor" erase the entry for Dee and Kelly 's appearance in a major work of English Romanticism--Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin (1820)--and yet leave an inane entry for Dee's appearance in 21st century literature? Instead of checking that the source was 1) true and 2) relevant, they chose--guided by their own ignorance--to delete the Melmoth entry when this in fact is one of the most significant. Who loses out over this kind of idiocy? Researchers in the humanities and Wikipedia in general. My advice for self-appointed "editors": check the source first (and not on Wikipedia please--the Melmoth entry is woefully written)--and erase later. No, I won't replace the information because some idiot will take it upon his or herself to erase it based on what they don't know. In addition, the entry for Dee as Prospero can be documented using a more reliable source than the one cited. But who cares, right? Jesse Glass —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:27, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Did it have a citation? If not, that's why it was removed. All cultural references must be cited to a third-party source. See here. That's the only way to ascertain that the reference is notable, that it's been take note of by a reliable source. If you can supply a source verifying the reference, then of course the entry could be restored. Yworo (talk) 01:06, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Dee's Library[edit]

According to the research of Frances Yates Dee's Library formed the focus of all the artistic giants of the day. Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Edmund Spenser all spent time there and were part of Dee's intellectual circle. Is it not likely that Shakespeare would probably have had access to this library? Many people suggest that the range of references in Shakespeare's work to History, Mysticism etc indicate that he couldn' have written his plays as a man of his class wouldn't have had a library or education of this kind. Manly Hall cites this as the best proof that Bacon wrote his plays! Surely Shakespeare, who must have been at the heart of the artistic life of his day, must have spent time in Dee's Library discovering and searching for ideas? The article says that Shakespeare based Prospero on Dee (in fact this can only be an assertion. We cannot prove this.). For this to be the case must he not have known him? I imagine Marlowe based his Faustus on anti-Dee propaganda. Interesting. ThePeg 15:18, 27 October 2006 (UTC)


Because he was born in England does that make him English despite his parents(family) being Welsh? 00:20, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

Good point, Dee seems to have considered himself 'British', at least superficially, as he claimed his descent from Arthur's 'Brits' and seems to have treated Wales (for right or wrong) as part of the Tudor kingdom. The links have him as both English and Welsh which is good enough for me, although his father was involved in the court of Henry VIII and I think (not 100% sure at the moment) that by J Dee's time the name had been Anglicised to Dee from Ddu (the Welsh word for black, like the river Ddu apparently?) for at least a generation if not more. Having said this I am more than aware of the sensitivities that might be involved in distinguishing the nationalities in the 'Atlantic Isles' so I'll leave decisions to someone else. S. Vodanovic

It should say English. The first sentence is supposed to give nationality, not ethnicity. As the place of birth is London, he should be listed here as English. This does not preclude discussion of his family background later in the article. Doesn't belong in the lead though. Valtyr (talk) 16:27, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


There is no mention of the specifics of John Dee's calendar. John Dee would have had a 33-year calendar cycle of eight leap days. The average length of the year would then be 365 8/33 = 365.242424 days. John Dee's calendar is mathematically more superior to the Gregorian calendar for the following three reasons. First, this is more accurate to the solar cycle than the average Gregorian calendar of 365.2425 days. Second, the cycle would only repeat every 33 years, not 400 years. Finally, the leap days would be distributed every four and five years, not four and eight years. This means that the vernal equinox would have a little less than a 24 hour range with the calendar, not over 53 hours like the Gregorian calendar has. Under John Dee's calendar, the 24 hour range at Greenwich, England would have been 5:08 AM to 5:08 AM the next day local time. That means the range would be midnight to midnight on the same day at the 77th longitude west of Greenwich, which is the longitude of Washington DC. John Dee would have established our current 77th longitude as the prime meridian for his calendar proposal. That's why most of our English settlements are near the 77th meridian. It was a mathematically strategic location to settle. --Trust101 04:45, 28 June 2007 (UTC)


Did he live in the palace? Elizabeth I is shown visiting him in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age but it isn't clear where exactly his study is, which is shown in the film. Badagnani (talk) 06:12, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

His house in Mortlake, which he lived in for a good deal of time, was stocked full of books and manuscripts, he didnt live in the palace though he made a few appearances. He carried a lot of books with him where ever he went but his house was where most people went to have a read. I haven't seen the movie but I'm assuming it's meant to be Mortlake not any of the palaces. Who knows with films though! =) Saul Vodanovic —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:56, 24 April 2008 (UTC)

I've now seen the movie and I reckon it's definately Mortlake. For that series of movies the scenes with Dee seemed pretty honest. Anyways the scenes with Dee looked like they were set in a room that looked a lot like the depictions of the Mortlake residence. Saul Vodanovic

link[edit] British Museum, the scrying ball of Dr. Dee. -- Cherubino (talk) 19:34, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

John Dee: the Welshman[edit]

Had he been born today, Dee would be playing rugby for Wales. Just because he was lived in London doesn't make him English! He was a Welsh Mathematician and Philosopher. His blood, his knowledge of Welsh literature, his parents and his whole outlook on life was 100% Welsh regardless of where he lived. Will Wiki also claim Rhys Ifans as being Welsh just because he lives in Swiss Cottage? Llywelyn2000 (talk) 06:16, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Well, that would depend on how good he was at rugby. And he might have preferred soccer. But he could also have played for England, couldn't he? Poshseagull (talk) 16:47, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
It's not just because he lived in London, he was at least the third generation of the Dee's (married to Englishwomen), rather than Ddu's, he spoke English or continental languages, was educated in England, and worked in England or on a passport issued by the crown on the continent, and actually signed off letters as a Londoner. He might have known the odd Welsh story but that was from studying not from any Welsh family culture. I'm not sure how he had a 'whole outlook on life [that] was 100% Welsh'. I know not this Rhys Ifans nor Swiss Cottage however... =) Saul Vodanovic —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:07, 21 August 2008 (UTC)
'Third generation' - do we know his ancestry? We know his parent's names, but can we go further? Re: 'passport' etc, i hold a British passport myself, but certainly do NOT count myself as being British! I am Welsh and would opt for a Welsh passport, had that right not been taken away from us by the might of the (English) sword. Dee would also have taken out a Welsh passport had he been given the choice! Llywelyn2000 (talk) 07:16, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

YES- he mapped out his own ancestry.. See cotton charter images [1] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:53, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

Well, at least they're not claiming he was "British" are they, although the Welsh have a better claim to that label than the English do. Poshseagull (talk) 16:47, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

As a few months have now passed and no one could provide proof that he was 'third generation' (see above) I stand by my understanding that he was Welsh rather than English. I have therefore corrected the wording in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Llywelyn2000 (talkcontribs) 22:28, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, Wikipedia uses nationality based on birthplace, which is easily verifiable, not ancestral heritage. Please desist from forcing your POV on the article. Thanks. Bob (QaBob) 23:24, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Please, therefore, change Edward II of England's nationality to 'Welsh', as he was born in caernarfon. On second thoughts.... Llywelyn2000 (talk) 15:22, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Horace Walpole Anachronism[edit]

Under the artifacts section it says that John Dee's Speculum was once owned by Horace Walpole. Horace Walpole was born long after John Dee's death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Octoberdan (talkcontribs) 02:27, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

The wording carries no particular implication that Walpole's ownership predated Dee's. In complete isolation the statement would technically be ambiguous, but in the context of an article that dates Dee (and of any knowledge of Walpole, to whose article the mention links) the meaning that Walpole came subsequently to own it is obvious. To remove any possible misunderstanding, one could add to ". . . Horace Walpole." the description ", the 18th century art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and politician", but this seems over-scrupulous. (talk) 15:31, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
I fixed any possible misunderstanding. Now the sentence read that the speculum was subsequently owned by Horace Walpole. Devil Master (talk) 16:57, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Dee as Christian Kabbalist[edit]

I'm hesitant to integrate this myself into such a well-developed article which has been featurd. The source supporting the addition of this category is:

  • Hanson, Kenneth. Kabbalah: The Untold Story of the Mystic Tradition, p. 194. Council Oak Books, 2004. ISBN 1571781420

Bob (QaBob) 03:06, 3 October 2008 (UTC)

Dee as "007"[edit]

Recently the line that Dee was the "original 007" was removed. While is sounds that assertion might be valdalism, I find evidence to indicate that Dee did us 007 as his signature —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kdbailey (talkcontribs) 15:39, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

A slightly more reliable source (University of Cambridge) for John Dee as the original 007 [3] In particular this sentence "In Dee's correspondence with the Queen, we find a mysterious signature symbol - two circles and what could be an elongated number 7."--Alchemist Jack (talk) 16:17, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

This has come up before - scroll up.

It is, of course, possible to find evidence indicating this is the case. It's not possible to find credible evidence, though - let alone primary proof of it, ie a single letter signed by him in this way. The University of Cambridge does admittedly at first glance seem like a credible source, but look closer: the article cites its source as Richard Deacon, aka Donald McCormick. This idea always leads back to him: he's the originator of the claim. There's no evidence for it anywhere else. As I said in my edit when I removed it, this has been comprehensively debunked: McCormick was a proven hoaxer on Jack The Ripper. I've also shown, in some depth, how he was responsible for several other hoaxes about James Bond in this article on my blog: This idea, like his ones about Ian Fleming having an affair with Christine Granville and luring Hess to Scotland, is so persistent because it's so wonderfully attractive. Here's just one recent internet discussion showing how drawn people can be to the idea: But I'm removing it again, and unless someone can provide a credible source that doesn't lead back to McCormick that shows a letter or document written by Dee using the symbol I suggest as an encyclopedia we leave it out for good, and don't continue to perpetuate this myth just because it sounds cool.

(Further thoughts: Someone is bound to want to add this again in future. When I removed it last time I said it had been debunked, and provided the link to the article in question - but that wasn't enough. Kdbailey Googled and found a source that said it was true, Alchemist Jack found another at Cambridge University and so it got added back in. Did either of you read the article I linked to when removing it? Or try to find a primary source? This myth has spread all over the internet, and even respected universities can be fooled. The source is Donald McCormick, who is a proven hoaxer (see his Wikipedia entry!) and there's simply no credible evidence for this. McCormick's evidence is highly incredible, in fact. But it's one of those ideas that has a strong appeal, one that overrides common sense or the need for dutiful research, apparently. So this discussion will eventually be mothballed and in a week or a month or a year or decade it will be back in the article, and it will continue to be cited in articles all over the place as a result - a lot of journalists use Wikipedia and will see a couple of references and that's enough. A quick look at Google News shows that this has been unthinkingly claimed by BBC News, Variety, the Irish Times and many more. I suggest we either put a block on this information being added again, or if that's impractical have a sentence stating that it is often claimed but in fact there's no credible evidence for it, perhaps linking to Teresa Burns' article in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition debunking it and McCormick's own Wikipedia page.) Jeremy Duns (talk) 08:26, 29 April 2013 (UTC)


I have removed geographer from Dee's resume. I am not aware of any sources that support this can someone enlighten me? Lucian Sunday (talk) 17:05, 18 April 2009 (UTC) Dee was a great cartographer, worked with Mercator on maps, mapped out the Americas in part and was an important part of Elizabethan geography (local surveys around London and Manchester) as well as global work. See his work on the North-West passage for example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:53, 6 June 2009 (UTC)


According to ODNB Dee was born on 13 July 1527 in London, Dee was educated at Chelmsford grammar and St John's College, Cambridge. His father was Rowland Dee. From other sources I understand his father was a Vintner in London and his grandfather Bedo was a Standard Bearer at Tournay which according to Wikipedia was conquered in 1513 by Henry VIII of England, making it the only Belgian city ever to have been ruled by England.

I know that he was proud of his Welsh pedigree but I think to call him Welsh in the introduction without any qualification is misleading. Lucian Sunday (talk) 17:05, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

I think to call his Welsh is not misleading, it is wrong and some strange attempt at nationalism. Dee isn't Welsh, it is a petty thing to continually promote despite evidence disproving the baseless claim, and edits pushing this clap-trap are vandalism in my opinion. ~~Saul Vodanovic~~ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:59, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

John Dee is Welsh. All external sources (aswell as academic sources) relate to him as such, to mis-label him on wikipedia is another example of false data that must be removed or edited.--Aldwynson (talk) 22:49, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

He was both. He was born in England but his famiy came to Wales a as many Welsh camde to England when the Tudors came to power. His family still owneeerpropertyat Nantygroes hall and he is the one who sold the family seat. He had very strong Welsh ties and spoke Welsh. He traced his ancestry to both England and Wales... That makes him British. See cotton charter for pedigree see coeflin for Nantygroes hall records — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:27, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

Minor POV?[edit]

The Later Life section dealing in part with Dee's supposed angelic conversations with Angels via Kelley's mediumship includes the parenthetical passage:

"(The character of Kelley is harder to assess: some have concluded that he acted with complete cynicism, but delusion or self-deception are not out of the question.[31] . . . .)"

Insamuch as this omits the possibility that Kelley really was communicating with "angels" (whatever they might actually be, or not be), it's slightly POV. While most people may dismiss the possibility out of hand, and many of the rest may consider its likelihood low, I question whether Wikipedia should take a position that implicitly denies it absolutely. (talk) 15:49, 18 October 2009 (UTC)

Final Years[edit]

It is a mistake to claim that King James I provided Dee no help. William H. Sherman (JOHN DEE the politics of reading and writing in the English Renaissance, 1995, University of Massachusetts) p19:

..."once again, what has been taken as an indication of Dee's disgrace proves to contain important evidence of the continuity of his status. The Letter...Apologetical did more than reprint Dee's Elizabethan petition of the same name (first written in 1595 and first published in 1599). It added a verse epistle to James which called for an official parliamentary or royal act to clear his name:"..."Even more surprisingly these petitions revealed that Dee actually served James in an official capacity, having been sworn in as "his mathematician" on 9 August 1603."

In his notes (57 and 58) to the above paragraph Sherman cites:

57. A Letter, Nine yeeres since, written and first published: Containing a most briefe Discourse Apologetical...(London, 1603/4). 58. The relevant texts are STC 6460, 6460.5, 6461, 6465, and 6466.

Thus Dee almost certainly received a royal pension and provided advice for some royal projects (possibly the Jamestown project). His need to sell books etc. does not necessarily indicate poverty any more than it did in the rest of his life, just his schemes needs for more funds than his pension could meet (another indication that he remained ambitiously active, all be it behind the scenes, up until his death).

Fell-Smith is an insufficient and unreliable source for this article's typically dismal account of Dee's Jacobean years. (talk) 16:37, 2 August 2010 (UTC) Simon Cassidy (see my Google profile at

British Imperialist[edit]

Can someone please explain to me why a section on "British imperialist" belongs where it is in the article.

Biography 1.1 Early life 1.2 British Imperialist 1.3 Later life 1.4 Final years 1.5 Personal life

Why is "British Imperialist" section put in between these periods of his life and personal life. Why is Undue weight given to him being an imperialist, when the introduction states. "was a noted mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist." Why such a section which i see was added by a now indef blocked editor some time ago? BritishWatcher (talk) 13:25, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

I tend to agree that the article structure is odd - I think the headline "British Imperialist" for the section is rather POV and it could do with restructuring. On the disputed sentence where the Synth tag has been put in, I suspect this is unsourcable - until one of us can consult the OED that is. I'll wager though that the OED doesn't say that as the use of BI predates Dee and it's just an early written usage of it. Still, I would accept being corrected. I believe reference libraries (those that still exist!) have OEDs in them, as do university libraries, so hopefully one of us can actually check what it says at some point soon. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 13:59, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
This was looked into some time ago and the etymology of BI is traced to DEE in the OED. Those of BW's persuasion were never very happy with this as the origin was political not geographical (whatever the subsequent use). While the title may be a little POV, Dee created the myths on which Elizabethan England commenced to found the Empire. The content of the section looks right to me, maybe the title should be changed. I can't see any argument from BW as to why it is a synthesis, so unless he pops up with one I will remove that tag. --Snowded TALK 14:32, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
The sentence reads "In making these arguments, Dee is credited with the earliest use in English of the terms Brytish Iles and Brytish Impire.[26][improper synthesis?]" - the reference is to the OED, so the OED needs to refer to the BI as having "advocated a policy of political and economic strengthening of England and imperial expansion into the New World" as in the previous argument. If it doesn't do that, it's synthesis. Where is the OED reference in the archive please Snowded? I wasn't able to locate it. At the moment, I concur with the tag, so don't remove it please until we've sorted this. Thanks. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 14:37, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Its in the British Isles archives --Snowded TALK 18:39, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Sure, I've seen that one - it didn't present anything about the OED reference that would solve this as far as I can recall. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 18:42, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
The basic problem by the way is in the sentence "in making these arguments, Dee is credited with the earliest use in English of the terms Brytish Iles " - it's the "in making these arguments" bit being made to tie up BI "invention" (no proof he did, but anyway, for the sake of this argument....) with the "British imperialist" (he probably was more of an English imperialist, but no worries, let's go with the flow...) bit - so if the sentence read differently, we might not have a problem with that part. Beyond that is the title "British Imperialist" which is a tad over the top. I suspect we are in the realms here of fixing problems caused by a now perma-blocked editor. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 18:50, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Well he did make first use, he did create the "British" Myth of Arthur etc. to justify Elizabethan ambition. There is no particular need to tie those together in a single sentence. --Snowded TALK 19:21, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
For now, I moved the "British Imperialist" section down as it didn't fit with the biog structure. I would prefer a different title for this section as well as some revisions to the text. Jamesinderbyshire (talk) 15:44, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

It looks like while Dee has been credited by some with coining the term "British Empire", the term had been previously used by Humphrey Llwyd, eight years before Dee's use in The Perfecte Art of Navigation. So unless there is evidence that Dee used the term before that, it seems he didn't coin it at all. Yworo (talk) 17:44, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Sibly's Engraving and the Misattribution of John Dee as the One Accompanying Kelley[edit]

It should be noted that Sibley talks of the fellow accompanying Kelley and identifies him as Paul Waring in his New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences -- Ars Mysteriorum

Anyone with access to/knowledge of the material able to check this out? --Snowded TALK 11:24, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
To quote from A New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences, pg. 1100, vol. 4: "Many wicked and abominable transactions are recorded of him, which were performed by witchcraft, and the mediation of infernal spirits ; but nothing more curious, or more apropos to the present subject, than what is mentioned by Weaver, in his Funeral Monuments. He there records, that Edward Kelly the magician, with one Paul Waring, who acted in capacity of companion and associate in all his conjurations, went together to the Church-yard of Walton Ledale, in the country of Lancaster, where they had information of a person being interred, who was supposed to have hidden or buried a considerable sum of money, and to have dies without disclosing to any person where it was deposited. They entered the church-yard exactly at twelve o'clock at night; and, having had the grave pointed out to them the preceding day, they exorcised the spirit of the deceased by magical spells and incantations, till it appeared before them, and not only satisfied their wicked desires and enquiries, but delivered several strange predictions concerning persons in that neighbourhood, which were literally and exactly fulfilled." -- Ars Mysteriorum 22:41, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Azogue link[edit]

Google is blocking this as a malicious site. Strongly advise its removal from the entry. Moebius999 (talk) 20:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)


This article is full of problems that I feel compromise its FA status:

  • "Reputation and significance" is very choppy, with lots of short paragraphs.
  • Works an Artifacts are very listy.
  • Many of the references are not formatted properly.
  • I removed a "literary and culture references" section that was nothing but a bullet list of anyone who's ever name-dropped him. Pure trivia. Ten Pound Hammer(What did I screw up now?) 22:59, 16 April 2013 (UTC)


It sounds odd to my ear to describe someone active in the 16th century as a consultant (in the lead paragraph), so I will change this to 'adviser' if no one has any objections. Clivemacd (talk) 15:47, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Welsh Ancestry[edit]

It is clear that John Dee had paternal ancestry going back to Wales, but none of the links show Welsh maternal ancestry, one link from BBC Wales simply asserts both parents are Welsh without support. I have therefore altered the description of his family as being Welsh, to clarifying that his Father had Welsh ancestry. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:48, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Apologies, the above remark was left by me. (talk) 19:52, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^