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PN Review 275
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This report is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

Letter from Wales Sam Adams
I have discovered a connection with John Aubrey, whose Brief Lives are a constant delight. I had dipped into the book often enough before, but, newly conscious of a link so faint as to be invisible to all but me, I have just read the whole with some care. Aubrey was careful in matters of lineage so I had better admit at the outset that we have no shared ancestry.

As a convinced astrologer he was also conscientious about the date and time of births, wherever the information was available. His mostly third-person autobiographical notes tell us he was born 'about sunriseing' on his father's estate at Easton Pierse, Wiltshire, 12 March 1626. The date and time were astrologically inauspicious, for he was thus condemned to labour 'under a crowd of ill directions'. We can be easily reconciled to that since, if he had not been so fated, whatever else he might have accomplished as antiquary, proto-archaeologist and 'natural philosopher', we would not have had his potted biographies of characters from the times of the first Elizabeth to the second Charles. An 'ingeniose youth', he became competent in Latin and Greek in his schooldays, and spent his best years at Trinity College, Oxford and Lincoln's Inn, interrupted as they were by Civil War and smallpox, which he caught at Oxford. As the eldest of three sons he inherited his father's encumbered property in 1652 and was immediately involved in lawsuits.

A major source of the family wealth, ...


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