HOPTON, Arthur.

A Concordancy of Yeares. Containing a new, easie and most exact Computation of Time, according to the English Account.

[London], Nicholas Okes for Thomas Adams, 1615


8vo. Pp. (xiv) 254. Mainly Black letter. Tp with ornamental woodcut border, Royal Arms at head, crest and arms of the Cecil family and Cambridge at sides and lower corners (McKerrow 210), floriated woodcut initials and ornamental head pieces. 24 full page tables with months of the year and zodiac signs, half page woodcut illustration of astronomical man. C18 armorial bookplate of John Hopton of Can-Frome in the County of Hereford to pastedown. Ms case mark to upper outer corner of tp, contemp. Ms list to last ffep of dates and references. Lower outer corner of first ffep torn, a very good, clean, exceptionally wide margined copy in contemporary velum, lacking ties, title contemporary inked on spine.

Handsomely bound in contemporary vellum, the second, enlarged edition of this popular work on astronomy and astrology by Arthur Hopton (1588-1614). De Morgan (1917) describes it as “one of the many astrological and prophetic almanacs of which the Stationers’ Company long exercised an undignified monopoly.” Tomash H 163 calls it a “popular handbook on astronomical and astrological data”. Hopton was attempting to create “a new, easie, and most exact Computation of Time”, “having observed the inconveniences that happened to the vulgar wits, and meane capacities, in the calculation of the expiration of time, by such Rules and Computations as be now extant.” It is a relatively simple system, offering a set of tools for calculating time organised in a standard formula, which included the “epact” (the number of days that constitutes the excess of the solar over the lunar year), and the “Roman Indiction” (a 15-year cycle instituted by the Emperor Constantine (Rhodes, Neil. ‘Time’ in The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Culture in Early Modern England, 2014). Following this was a calendar and the year divided into quarters. Hopton teaches the reader how to tell the time by looking at the moon, and how to measure the size of the planets and stars in the Solar System.

This work is significant in being mentioned by the commentators on Shakespeare, specifically Allibone. Another astrologer, Simon Forman, helped to amend the date of Macbeth, as he saw the play himself. Hopton was a close friend of John Selden (1584-1654), and was said to have been “much valued by him and by all the noted men of that time”.

The work contains tables with moon’s aspects, astrological calculations, and an extensive ‘concordancie of yeares’ from 1066-1646 that lists important events, natural and historical, that occurred in Britain and beyond. The establishment of plantations in Virginia are included as well as extreme metrological events, the deaths of monarchs, and the founding of several Oxbridge colleges including St Johns and Trinity, Cambridge.  A number of other subjects are covered which provides an insight into early seventeenth century England. Hopton provides tables which demonstrate how beer, ale, wine, honey and oil are measured in units including tonnes, a hogshead, a gallon, and a pint. He provides weights of gold and the associated names for coinage of that mass. He describes the popular days for marriage and specific feast and ‘faire’ days from month to month.  

For 300 years the large country house named Canon Frome Court in Heredfordshire was the ancestral home of the Hopton family, including the notable Sir Richard and Sir Edward Hopton, and later John Hopton. Arthur Hopton heralds from Witham in Somerset, and the likelihood of him being a close family member to the Hoptons of Canon Frome is questionable.

ESTC S104206; Lowndes III 1111; Tomash H 163; Not in Cantamessa; this edition not in Houzeau & Lancaster, Sabin or Alden.
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