17th Century Rye Personalities

Friday 30th September, East Street
The Chymical Club: John Allin, Samuel Jeake, Philip Frith and the Pursuit of Alchemy in 17th century Rye and London by  Donna Bilak:

(Lecture 3 in her series in aid of the Women’s Tower Project)

Donna Bilak of the Bard Graduate Center in New York was in England again to give a paper at a Cambridge University conference on Alchemy and Medicine from Antiquity to the Enlightenment and made a special trip to Rye to give us another installment of her research findings on leading figures of 17th century Rye: Rev John Allin and his friends Samuel Jeakes and Philip Frith. John Allin was ejected as Rye’s vicar after the restoration of Charles II and the Act of Uniformity because he was a Dissenter so moved to London where he practiced medicine and pursued the dream of an alchemist to discover ‘the philosopher’s stone’ (by transmutation of metals to gold).

Rye Museum documents have been very important to Donna’s research. Allin’s correspondence with Jeake and Frith is voluminous and the trio made detailed plans to set up an alchemy laboratory here in Rye. We all left with a better understanding of alchemy’s lofty original purpose — before the word became associated with charlatans — and a clearer picture of the life and interests of 17th century Rye and London: living conditions, plague, great fire, scientific interests, New World contacts and all. Donna has promised us a bound copy of her completed project.

First posted in Notable People, Past Talks, Rye Town History on 2nd October 2011
Last updated: 7th December 2012
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