Yesterday I saw a picture come across my tumblr. It was an illustration of a scene showing Edward Kelley in a cemetery, calling up a ghost. The picture's description said it was Edward Kelley and John Dee performing necromancy. Of course I knew that was nonsense because John Dee stopped associating with Kelley because Kelley was practicing black magic. John Dee wanted to talk to angels, not dead people.
So I went to wikipedia and looked up necromancy. Yep, there's the illustration and the description reads:
"Engraving of occultists John Dee and Edward Kelley "in the act of invoking the spirit of a deceased person"; from Astrology (1806) by Ebenezer Sibly.
Going to google books and looking up Sibly's Astrology, we find it on page 1106 of the second volume. You can read about the scene depicted in the plate on page 1099. It seems Edward Kelley's companion in this picture is one Paul Waring.
Sibly got his story from John Weever's book on funeral monuments. Weever allegedly heard the story from Paul Waring himself.
If you were one of the many people who liked or reblogged the picture and caption I described, please make up for it by reblogging this post.
I have been contacted about this matter in private message. There still seems to be some doubt as to the identity of the two men in the picture above. I am told I cannot prove that John Dee is not in the picture and therefore Wikipedia has to be right. I will now honor that abuse of logic with a short reply.
The story begins with Weever's book on funeral monuments. On page LXV, we find this story:
This story places Edward Kelley and a man named Peter Waring in the park of Walton in le dale. Peter Waring is Kelley's companion in deeds of darkness (not John Dee). Weever claims to have heard this from a gentleman who heard it from one of his servants. The servant claimed he helped dig up a dead body for this scene.
The story was later retold on page 1099 of the second volume of Sibly's Astrology:
Sibly spells Edward's last name differently and gives the name Paul Waring instead of Peter Waring. John Dee broke company with Edward Kelly because of Kelly's black magic and lack of morals. Edward Kelly and Paul Waring "went together to the church-yard of Walton Ledale, in the county of Lancaster."
If we look closely at the illustration in question, we see two men. One, with a book and wand who looks somewhat like other images of Edward Kelley. The other man looks nothing like John Dee. And the church in the background? As long as we are on wikipedia, let's go to the Wikipedia page for Saint Leonard's Church, Walton-le-Dale. Does that look like the church in the illustration?
After all of this I find that my anonymous critic still has a point. I cannot prove that the second man in the illustration is NOT supposed to be John Dee. I also can't see anything remotely suggesting it IS. As usual, I will now wait to be proven wrong (yes, it happens every now and then).