Culpeper, Nicholas

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Culpeper, Nicholas Gender: M
born on 18 October 1616 Jul.Cal. (28 Oct 1616 greg.) at 12:12 (= 12:12 PM )
Place Ockley, England, 51n09, 0w22
Timezone LMT m0w22 (is local mean time)
Data source
From memory
Rodden Rating A
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_scocol.18.gif 05°29' s_mo.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 21°41 Asc.s_capcol.18.gif 07°12'

Portrait of Nicholas Culpeper 
(click to view image source)
Nicholas Culpeper


British physician of the 17th century who had a short and eventful life. He may be best remembered for his "Culpeper's Herbal," a compendium of natural healing that became the standard text for over three centuries.

Culpeper was the son of a titled father who owned castles and manor houses in Kent and Sussex, as the family rose to high social position during the reign of King John in the 12th century. Nicholas was named after his dad, a Reverend minister who died 13 days before the birth of his son.

Their manor house went into other hands and his mom moved with him to the village of Isfield, where her father, the Reverend William Attersole, presided over a Puritan congregation. An erudite man, Attersole was noted for his commentary on the Biblical Book of Numbers. It was he who raised the boy, recognizing his natural abilities and providing a good education. Nicholas was an apt student and applied himself, being particularly well versed in Latin and Greek. He began his astrological studies at age ten. A brilliant scholar in the humanities, he was also a scathing critic and a hot-headed revolutionary. He was a strong and loyal ally but a dangerous adversary, altruistic to those in need but reckless in slandering those with whom he disagreed. Entering Cambridge at 18, he distinguished himself in the Classics but with reckless extravagance, squandered his inheritance.

He fell in love with a beautiful heiress and they planned to elope. On the night of their rendezvous, there was a severe thunderstorm and while driving to their meeting place, his lover's coach was struck by lightning and she died instantly. Grief-stricken and incoherent, Culpeper withdrew for several months to his mother's cottage in Isfield with a nervous breakdown. Emerging from the trauma a changed man, he changed his life's direction. He refused to return to Cambridge and resumed to enter the ministry as he had planned. His mother's health then failed and Culpeper had to turn around and nurse her through her final days. He was left alone, financially destitute, emotionally bankrupt and cut off from both sides of his titled family at age 23. Episodes of depression plagued him periodically for the rest of his life.

The following year, 1640, he returned to London penniless. Almost immediately he met and married a 15-year-old heiress with a considerable fortune. He became an apprentice to an apothecary. His skill in languages aided his studies of the Materia Medica in Latin and his study of astrology fitted hand in glove with being a "Student of Physick." After his employer died, Culpeper took over his business and with the wife's dowry, set up his own apothecary shop on Red Lion Street, Spitalfields, in London's East End. He began his medical practice combined with astrology and writing extensively. With no business sense whatever, Culpeper practiced his art with skill and generosity to the poor. Alice's dowry also provided enough to buy a comfortable home where, by all accounts, they enjoyed a happy marriage.

In 1642, the English Civil War began with the Puritans, led by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, uprising against the Royalists. Culpeper joined the Puritans and entered the Battle of Edgehill on 10/23/1642, when he was wounded by gunshot in the torso. The wound never healed completely but bothered him for the rest of his life. The following year, he took offence and zealously engaged in a duel. He was wounded in the chest, and took refuse in France for several months to heal. The two wounds left him weakened and he became tubercular.

In 1644, he translated the complete texts of "Materia Medica" from Latin to English. He went through every known medical text of his day, a great task that took a total of six years, often pursued after his day's work, resulting in the publication of "Pharmacopoeia," 1649. The work was bitterly criticized by the College of Surgeons and held up to public ridicule as it took the mystery of medicine away from the few and put it in the hands of the general public. He also wrote that "a physician without astrology is like a pudding without fat." He took careful note of the "decumbiture" or time that the patient first took to bed, as the primary horoscope of the diagnosis, prognosis and cure or outcome.

His own bouts of depression were deepened from continual illness within his own family. Alice had seven kids and only one, a daughter, survived him. His own affliction of TB left him wasted to a skeleton and he died on 1 January 1654 OS, London. The balance of his manuscripts were most likely destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Relationship : Marriage 1640 (Alice)
  • Death by Disease 1 January 1654 Jul.Cal. (11 Jan 1654 greg.) (TB, age 37)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Modern Astrology 2/1892 quotes Sibly, his contemporary. (October 18 OS) Same in Wynn 6/46 and in American Astrology 10/71.

(Notable Nativities No.1001 has 11:00 PM)

Jackie Slevin had a fine article in the FAA Journal Dec/1998, "The Healer of Red Lion Street."

Sy Scholfield quotes H.C.G. Matthew & Brian Howard Harrison's book, "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: In Association with the British Academy" (Oxford UP, 2004), p. 602: "Culpeper, Nicholas ... was born a little after noon on 18 October 1616, probably at Ockley, Surrey, where he was baptized in St Margaret's Church on 24 October."

wikipedia has date of death 10 January 1654


  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Tuberculosis
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Nervous Breakdown (After fiance killed)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (Married 15-year-old Alice)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids more than 3 (Seven)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids -Traumatic event (Lost six kids; only one survived)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Money Through Marriage (Alice had a substantial dowry)
  • Vocation : Medical : Pharmacist (Culpeper's Herbal)
  • Vocation : Medical : Physician
  • Vocation : Occult Fields : Astrologer (Pro)
  • Vocation : Writers : Astrology (Medical)
  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction (Herbal book)
  • Notable : Famous : Historic figure (Physician/ astrologer)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession