Partridge, John(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
John Partridge, born January 18, 1643, in East Sheen, London, England, was an influential astrologer and producer of almanacs. Apprenticed to a shoemaker, he acquired enough books to teach himself Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He may have studied with the astrologer John Gadbury and seems to have given up making shoes when his first publication was issued about 1678. Partridge’s first major work, Mikropanastron, was published the next year. In 1680, he started issuing an almanac entitled Merlinus Liberatus. He left England for political reasons in 1685 and studied medicine in Leyden, Holland, for the next four years. Partridge returned to his native country after receiving his medical degree and married a well-to-do widow. He also resumed his astrological publishing activities.
Partridge came to prefer the Placidian house system, a choice evident in his final major works, including the Opus Reformatum (1693) and the Defectio Geniturarum (1697), both highly technical analyses of primary directions in sample horoscopes. By 1700, he was the most prominent astrologer in Britain. His almanac was so popular that other people began to publish almanacs in his name.
Partridge is best remembered for his role in promoting the Placidian system and for an incident involving the famous author and social critic Jonathan Swift (1667–1745). Under the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff, Swift published a bogus almanac containing a prediction of Partridge’s death on March 29, 1708. Swift issued another small tract on March 30, 1708, in which he, as Bickerstaff, claimed that his prediction was correct and gave the particulars of Partridge’s supposed death. The trick was believed, and Partridge had difficulty convincing others that he was still alive. He curtailed his almanac for the next four years. When it was reissued, he included some pointed reflections on Swift’s character. Partridge died on June 24, 1715, in Mortlake, London.