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The Siblys of LondonA Family on the Esoteric Fringes of Georgian England$
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Susan Mitchell Sommers

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190687328

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190687328.001.0001

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A Portsmouth Interlude

A Portsmouth Interlude

Chapter:
(p.29) 2 A Portsmouth Interlude
Source:
The Siblys of London
Author(s):

Susan Mitchell Sommers

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190687328.003.0003

Around 1780, the Siblys became booksellers, and scattered to minimize competition between them. Ebenezer moved to Portsmouth and then Bristol. This chapter follows Ebenezer to Portsmouth in 1779, where he established his first bookshop. The stock of the Siblys’ shops is “reconstructed,” leading to an examination of the perils and practices of these very small businesses. The move to Portsmouth also marks the beginning of Ebenezer’s career as an astrologer and freemason—perhaps his best-known guise in modern literature. His first major work, A New and Complete Illustration of the Celestial Science of Astrology, dedicated to brother freemasons, began appearing in numbers while he was in Portsmouth. Sibly took the opportunity offered by the distance from London to became a bigamist—which he continued to be, serially, for the rest of his life. This lends itself to a discussion of marriage in law and contemporary practice.

Keywords:   genealogy, bigamy law, freemasonry, horoscope, astrology, bookselling, prediction, Quaker

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