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The Secret Identity of Edward Kelley
While the modern tendency has been to dismiss
Edward Kelley's gold-making as a trick to ensnare the gullible, there is no question that many
people alive at the time thought it was real and said they witnessed
it. As Lyndy Abraham, Charles
Nicoll, and Lauren Kassell have all written about in more detail, "an incredible
series of attested transmutations remain" from Kelley's years
on the continent, with eyewitness accounts ranging from French alchemist
Nicolas Barnaud to Elizabethan courtier Sir Edward Dyer to Dee's son
(and Dyer's godson) Arthur, and once-removed accounts from many others,
including the Holy Roman Emperor himself. Kelley's gold-making apparently
so convinced Sir Edward Dyer, and Dyer's intelligence report back to
England so convinced William Cecil, Lord Burghley, that Burghley later
used Dyer as an emissary to try to get Kelley to come back to England.
But who really was Edward Kelley? He introduced himself to Dee originally
under the name Talbot, and Dee accepted him despite the apparent confusion.
Kelley's crucial role in the angelic workings, and his reputation as
an alchemist, make the silence on his background and origins even more
significant. By following the few clues that do exist, we can arrive
at a whole new perspective on the real "Edward Kelley."