Booker, John

, one of those impostors who amused the public in the seventeenth century, was born at Manchester in 1601, and was bred a haberdasher in Lawrencelane, London, but quitted this employment and followed | that of a writing-master at Hadley in Middlesex, and was afterwards for some time clerk to the sitting aldermen at Guildhall. He in a few years rendered himself so eminent, that he was appointed licenser of mathematical books, under which were included all those that related to the celestial sciences. Lilly tells us, that he once thought him the greatest astrologer in the world; but it appears that he afterwards sunk in his esteem, and that he thought himself a much greater man. We are told by the same author, that “he had a curious fancy in judging of thefts, and was as successful in resolving love questions,” which was a capital branch of his trade. George Wharton, who was formerly one of his astrological friends, had a great quarrel with him, which occasioned his publishing “MercurioCrelico Mastix; or an Anti-caveat to all such as have heretofore had the misfortune to be cheated and deluded by that great and treacherous impostor John Booker; in an answer to his frivolous pamphlet, entitled Mercurius Coelicus, or a Caveat to all the people of England;” Oxon. 1644, 4to. The only work of Booker’s worth notice is, his “Bloody Irish Almanac,” which contains some memorable particulars relative to the war in Ireland. He died April 1667, and his books were sold to Elias Ashmole, who, as Lilly informs us, and we may readily believe, gave more for them than they were worth. 1

1 Granger. Lilly’s Life and Times, p. 40, edit 1774.