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Elias Ashmole

Elias Ashmole by an unknown artist (detail), c. 1688, after the portrait by [[John Riley (painter)|John Riley]], below.<br />[[National Portrait Gallery (United Kingdom)]] Elias Ashmole (; 23 May 1617 – 18 May 1692) was a celebrated English antiquary, politician, officer of arms, astrologer and student of alchemy. Ashmole supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices.

Ashmole was an antiquary with a strong Baconian bent for the study of nature. His library reflected his intellectual outlook, including works on English history, law, numismatics, chorography, alchemy, astrology, astronomy, and botany. Although he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, a key institution in the development of experimental science, his interests were antiquarian and mystical as well as scientific. He was an early Freemason, although the extent of his involvement and commitment is unclear. Throughout his life he was an avid collector of curiosities and other artefacts. Many of these he acquired from the traveller, botanist, and collector John Tradescant the Younger. Ashmole donated most of his collection, his antiquarian library and priceless manuscripts to the University of Oxford to create the Ashmolean Museum.
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