Starkey, George (DNB00)

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STARKEY, GEORGE (d. 1666), empiric, may be identical with George Starkey, born in 1606, son of John Starkey of Leicestershire by his wife Katherine, daughter of John Dartneill of Rutland (Nichols, Leicestershire, iii. 728).

Starkey asserts that he obtained a medical degree after a regular course at a university. Crossing to America, he practised as a doctor in the English settlements. There he met the mysterious ‘Eirenæus Philalethes’ (see below), who initiated him into some of the secret methods of transmuting the precious metals. In 1646 Starkey returned to England, and from 1650 onwards he rendered himself conspicuous by vending quack medicines, styling himself ‘a Philosopher made by the fire, and a Professor of that Medicine that is real, not Histrionical.’ On the Restoration he posed as an enthusiastic royalist, and addressed a fervent memorial to Charles II and the Duke of York, entitled ‘Royal and other Innocent Bloud crying aloud to Heaven for due vengeance. By George Starkey, a true honourer and faithfull friend of his country,’ London, 1660, 4to, in which he urged retaliation on the puritan party. In 1666 he ventured to dissect a plague patient, and fell a victim to his zeal

He was the author of: 1. ‘Nature's Explication and Helmont's Vindication; or a short and sure Way to a long and sound life,’ London, 1657, 8vo. 2. ‘Pyrotechny asserted and illustrated,’ London, 1658, 8vo; 1696, 8vo. 3. ‘The admirable efficacy of oyl which is made of Sulphur-Vive,’ 1660, 12mo. 4. ‘George Starkey's Pill vindicated,’ 4to. 5. ‘A brief Examination and Censure of several Medicines,’ London, 1664, 12mo. 6. ‘A smart Scourge for a silly, sawcy Fool, an answer to letter at the end of a pamphlet of Lionell Lockyer,’ London, 1665, 4to. 7. ‘An Epistolar Discourse to the author of Galeno-Pale’ [George Thomson (fl. 1620–1680) [q. v.] ], London, 1665, 8vo. 8. ‘Liquor Alchahest, or a Discourse of that Immortal Dissolvent of Paracelsus and Helmont,’ London, 1675, 8vo. He has some verses in Heydon's ‘Idea of the Law,’ London, 1660, 8vo, and in his ‘Theomagia,’ London, 1664, 8vo, and wrote two prefaces for ‘The Marrow of Alchemy, by Eirenæus Philoponus Philalethes,’ London, 1654, 8vo.

Starkey has been erroneously confused with the last-named writer, whose identity is undetermined, although it has been suggested that his real name was Childe. He is to be distinguished from Starkey, his disciple, from ‘Alazonomastix Philalethes,’ a pseudonym adopted by Henry More (1614–1687) [q. v.], and from ‘Eugenius Philalethes,’ the customary signature of Thomas Vaughan [q. v.], but, in one case at least, adopted also by Eirenæus Philalethes. Born in England of good family about 1622, ‘Eirenæus’ led a mysterious life, wandering under various names from country to country. According to his own statements and those of Starkey, he discovered the philosopher's stone in 1645, in his twenty-third year, and was a friend of Robert Boyle. He was author of: 1. ‘The Marrow of Alchemy, being an Experimental Treatise discovering the secret and most hidden mystery of the Philosophers Elixer,’ London, 1654, 8vo. 2. ‘Introitus apertus ad occlusum Regis Palatium,’ Amsterdam, 1667, 8vo (Brit. Mus. Libr.), a treatise on practical alchemy which had a European reputation, being translated into English, French, and Spanish. 3. ‘Tractatus tres: (i.) Metallorum Metamorphosis; (ii.) Brevis Manuductio ad Rubinum Cœlestem; (iii.) Fons Chymicæ Veritatis,’ Amsterdam, 1668, 8vo; reprinted in the ‘Musæum Hermeticum,’ Frankfort, 1678, 4to; translated into English ‘by a Lover of Art and Them,’ London, 1694, 8vo. 4. ‘Ripley Reviv'd; or an Exposition upon Sir George Ripley's Hermetico-Poetical Works,’ in five parts, London, 1677–8, 8vo. 5. ‘Opus Tripartitum de Philosophorum Arcanis. Videlicet: (i.) Enarratio methodica trium Gebri medicinarum; (ii.) Experimenta de præparatione Mercurii Sophici; (iii.) Vade Mecum philosophicum, sive breve manuductorium ad Campum Sophiæ,’ London, 1678, 8vo; Amsterdam, 1678, 8vo. 6. ‘The Secret of the Immortal Liquor Alchahest, or Ignis-Aqua,’ published in ‘Collectanea Chymica,’ London, 1684, 8vo; reprinted in ‘Collectanea Chemica,’ London, 1893, 8vo. This tract is distinct from Starkey's ‘Liquor Alchahest,’ though probably Starkey possessed ‘Philalethes’ manuscript when he wrote his treatise (Works of Philalethes and Starkey; Waite, Lives of Alchemical Philosophers, 1888, pp. 187–200; Waite, Real Hist. of the Rosicrucians, 1887, pp. 308–14; Lives of Alchemystical Philosophers, 1815, pp. 88–94, 160–75).

[Starkey's Works; Lenglet du Fresnoy's Histoire de la Philosophie Hermétique, i. 404, 480, iii. 302; Gray's Index to Hazlitt.]

E. I. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.257258
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
107 ii 3f.e. Starkey, George: after Starkey insert or Stirk and for (d. 1666) read (d. 1665)
2-1 f.e. for may be identical .... Leicester—read born in the Bermudas, was son of George Stirk (d. 1636-7), a minister of Scottish nationality in those islands, and author of ‘Musæ Somorenses’ (London, 1635, 8vo), of which there is a copy in the Bodleian Library (cf. Lefroy, Memorials of the Bermudas, 1877, vol. i.) In early life the son occasionally designated himself Storkey, but in his printed works his name appears as either Starkey or Starkeius. He graduated M.A. at Harvard College, and, while practising as a doctor in America,
108 i 1-7 omit shire by his wife .... settlements. There he
11 for In 1646 Starkey returned read Between 1646 and 1650 Starkey proceeded
25 for In 1666 read Before 14 Sept. 1665
27 after zeal insert (Allin’s ‘Notices of the Last Great Plague, 1665-6,’ in Archæologia, 1857, vol. xxxvii. p. 10; but see, for another version of his fate, Sibley, Biog. Sketches of Graduates of Harvard Univ., 1873, vol. i. p. 134)