William Alexander Ayton

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William Alexander Ayton (28 April 1816 – 1 January 1909) was a British Anglican clergyman with an interest in alchemy. He was Vicar of Chacombe (in Northamptonshire) from 1873-1894. In 1894 he retired on a small pension, and he died at Saffron Walden (in Hertfordshire) in 1909.[1][2][3] He translated from Latin the life of John Dee written by Thomas Smith.[4]

He is generally thought to have been a member of the shadowy Society of Eight founded in 1883.[5] He became a member of the successor Order of the Golden Dawn.[6] He was a supporter of the reforms of Arthur Edward Waite, which split the Order as the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn and the Stella Matutina.


  • The Alchemist of the Golden Dawn, The Letters of Revd. W. A. Ayton to F. L. Gardner and Others 1886-1905 (1985) edited Ellic Howe


  1. ^ Ronald Decker and Michael Dummett, A History of the Occult Tarot 1870-1970 (2003) p.62, 'a clergyman of the Church of England and well known in occult circles as an alchemist'.
  2. ^ The Reverend William Alexander Ayton was one of the oldest initiates of the original Golden Dawn, joining (along with his wife Anne) among William Wynn Westcott's earliest recruits just a few months after the founding of the Hermetic Order in 1888. As G. H. Frater Virtute Orta Occidunt Rarius (those rising by virtue rarely decline), Ayton achieved the grade of 5= 6 a year later, at the age of 74. He was at the time still active as a priest, and as the Vicar of Chacombe in Oxfordshire; he had been a freemason for twenty years, and was also associated with the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light. He retired on a pension in 1894 and lived into his 92nd year, dying in 1909 in Hertfordshire.[1]
  3. ^ William Alexander Ayton (1816-1909), Vicar of Chacombe, Northamptonshire. He had an alchemical laboratory in his cellar and was afraid that his Bishop would learn of its existence[2]
  4. ^ First published 1908.
  5. ^ Founded by Frederick Holland, or Kenneth Mackenzie. Decker-Dummett p.45 makes Holland the founder, and members F. G. Irwin, Benjamin Cox, Frederick Hockley, Mackenzie, John Yarker, William Wynn Westcott, as well as Ayton.
  6. ^ In July 1888, as Virtute orta, occidunt rarius. R. A. Gilbert, The Golden Dawn Companion (1986), p.140.

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