The Breviary of Alchemy

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Thomas Charnock was an English alchemist and initiate and who devoted his life to the quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. He was born in Faversham, Kent, around 1524 and died in April 1581 at Combwich. A native of the Isle of Thanet, Charnock spent most of his life in Combwich, a small village on the Steart Peninsula, in the west of England. Charnock’s uncle, also called Thomas Charnock, had been an alchemist, as well as the confessor to Henry VII and his interest in the subject appears to have been stimulated when he inherited his uncle’s alchemical library while in his teens.
He vainly asked Elizabeth I to allow him to carry on his research in the Tower of London, or another “solitary place”. He pledged to give Elizabeth the wealth and health of the Philosophers’ Stone within fourteen years if she would subsidise his costs, promising that he made this offer “uppon payne off losing my hedd”.
Four works attributed to Charnock, including The Breviary of Naturall Philosophy, better known as The Breviary of Alchemy (1557), were printed in Elias Ashmole’s Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, first published in 1652, an extensively annotated compilation of English alchemical literature.




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