Chaney, W. H.

Chaney, W. H.

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

William Henry Chaney was born January 13, 1821, in Chesterville, Maine. He was called Professor Chaney (in the nineteenth century, “professor” was often applied to any prominent teacher), and taught astrology for nearly 40 years. He worked for local farmers until aged 16, worked on a fishing schooner for several years, and also spent some time in the navy. He eventually settled in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he studied and practiced law and also edited a newspaper.

In 1866, Chaney was in New York City, where he met Luke Broughton, through whom he became acquainted with astrology. He was to become Broughton’s most famous pupil. Chaney thereafter devoted himself to the study, practice, and teaching of astrology.

In 1867, the New York Herald led a crusade against the science of the stars, resulting in Chaney’s imprisonment for half a year. After his release, he resumed his practice and lecturing, and moved to California in 1869. He moved from one place to another in California, Oregon, and Washington. His fourth marriage, to Flora Well-man, took place in 1876, and this union produced the well-known novelist Jack London (who took the name of his stepfather, John London). In 1889, Chaney moved again, this time to St. Louis, where he wrote and published his major work, Chaney’s Primer of Astrology and American Urania. Finally, in 1892, he moved to Chicago, where he married for the last time and remained until his death. His sixth wife’s name was Daisy, and together they published a magazine called The Daisy Chain. Chaney died January 6, 1903.


Chaney, W. H. The Astrology’s Vade Mecum. Baltimore: Eureka Publishing Co., 1902.
Chaney, W. H. Chaney’s Annual: With the magic Circle Astrology Almanac. Saint Louis: Magic Circle Publishing Co., 1890.
Chaney, W. H. Chaney’s Primer of Astrology and American Urania. Saint Louis: Magic Circle Publishing Co., 1890.
Holden, James H., and Robert A. Hughes. Astrological Pioneers of America. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1988.
The Astrology Book, Second Edition © 2003 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.