Elias Ashmole, an English antiquary, founder of the Ashmolean museum at Oxford, born in Lichfield, May 23, 1617, died in London, May 18, 1692. He was a chancery solicitor. In the civil war he quitted London and settled at Oxford, adopted the royalist cause and became captain in Lord Ashley's regiment of horse, and after the battle of Worcester withdrew to Cheshire. On the restoration Charles II. bestowed upon him the offices of Windsor herald, commissioner of excise, and secretary of Surinam, with other appointments. He was for a time the intimate associate of the astrologers and alchemists Lilly, Booker, Sir Jonas Moore, and Wharton, and in 1650 translated and published Dr. Dee's Fasciculus Chymicw and Arcanum (on the Hermetic philosophy, &c). He compiled a collection of the varieus unpublished writers on chemistry, which in 1652 he published under the title of Theatrum Chymicum Britannicum. In 1658 he announced that he had abandoned astrology and alchemy in his "Way to Bliss," a treatise on the philosopher's stone.
In 1650 he had made a catalogue of the coins in the Bodleian library, and in 1659 obtained from the younger Tradescant the museum of coins and curiosities which he and his father had collected at their house in Lambeth. In 1672 he presented to the king a history of the order of the garter, for which he received a grant of £400. He was also the author of "History and Antiquities of Berkshire," and of an autobiography. In 1679 his chambers in the Temple were burned, and the greater part of his library, with 9,000 ancient and modern coins, destroyed. The rest of his valuable collection of coins was presented to the university of Oxford, which prepared a suitable building for them in 1682. His books were transferred to the same institution according to his will.