- Born: Abt 1415, Bridlington, Yorkshire, England
- Marriage: about 1445 in Bridlington, Yorkshire, England
- Died: After 1448, England
Name: George Ripley, Sir, Canon, Alchemist
Birth: ABT. 1415 in Bridlington, Yorkshire
Death: 1490 in Boston, England
Reference Number: 16888
A portrait of Sir George Ripley in his lab, painted by an Italian painter many years after his death, but a portrait which captures the quest of Sir George, is available on the CD version of this family tree.
The biography below indicates that George Ripley was in possession of great wealth, and may have been heir to the Ripley Castle, built a few years before his birth, possibly by his father. He may also be the Ripley to whom the Coat of Arms was granted which is shown on this website.
Note that his use of the surname Ripley is in the time of great fluidity of naming. It was a derivative of Hyrpie, the Celtic Tribal name, with variants depending on location and grouping (clans). 'Ripley' was a combination of 'Hyrpie ' and 'Lea', signifying woodland. 'Lea' may also be connected to settlement on the Lea River, farther south in England, running from the west into the area of London. Other direct relatives and descendants of George are observed and recorded with surnames Rippon, Hyrpie, etc. For more information see the philological analysis of the identifying name (last name, surname) RIPLEY, on our FTM web site, at
where the name is traced back to AD 715.
The occupation of Alchemist seems to fit curiously well with the Celtic tribal links. By pursuing alchemy, and receiving the secret of the Philosopher's Stone (as stated below - where is that secret now?) George was fulfilling a quest which was perfectly in line with Celtic spirituality. Yet, of course, George was a devoted Christian, in that wonderful era, before Church Councils had set hard and fast rules about spiritual pursuit. This spiritual climate allowed George to work with the full blessing of the Church. Incidentally, the decree that priests could not marry (George was a Canon). was not put in place until the Council of Trent in 1730, so George could fulfill his personal destiny, as father and forbear of a great family. None of the achievement and quest described below could have been fulfilled under later Church rigidity: hence the movements of Protestlater, which may have led to a new church, more like the original one.
It is significant that George wrote his works in verse, rather than prose. Again the ancient oral tradition of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon spirituality was maintained. See notes on this oral tradition on our FTM site - address above.
The biography below can be found on the internet. In other writings by and about George Ripley, as recorded by Gordon Ripley (Canada, 1995 and later), George states that he has a family or clan of over 300 individuals in the Yorkshire area at this time. He does not refer to siblings, and George may have been an only surviving male child. Parish and other records are difficult to find, and specific persons are shrouded in darkness at this time (August, 2000). No doubt more information will appear eventually.
As you might imagine, much of the ancestry shown here is hypothetical at this point. Clearly Sir George Ripley is an actual historical person, and clearly connected to this family tree of the Ripley family of Celtic origins, in Yorkshire, and connected to Ripley Castle. It is known that the title to Ripley castle passed to the Ingleby family, as by male succession rules, the male (Ripley) heir who had title to the castle died with a daughter as his only heir. She married an Ingelby. This event is shown in this family tree, when Thomas Ingleby married Susannah Ripley (registered as ' Hyrpe') in May 28, 1626. From that point on, the castle has remained in the Ingleby family. IF George Ripley was the son of the builder of the castle, then the line of descent shown in this family tree must be close to the truth.
George Ripley [1415?-1490] was one of the most important of English alchemists. Little is known about him, but it is supposed that he was a Canon at the Priory of St Augustine at Bridlington in Yorkshire during the latter part of th e 15th century, where he devoted himself to the study of th e physical sciences and especially alchemy. To acquire fuller knowledge he travelled in France, Germany and Italy, and lived for some time in Rome, and there in 1477 was made a chamberlain by Pope Innocent VIII. In 1478 he returned to England in possession of the secret of transmutation . He pursued his alchemical work, and is reputed to have given vast sums to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem at Rhodes to defend them from the Turks. But his labours becoming irksome to the abbot and other canons, he was released from the order, and joined the Carmelites at Boston, where he died in 1490.
His name is attached to as many as five and twenty (25) different works, most of which remain in manuscript. Whether or not they are all by him may be doubted, and it has been asserted that what is called the 'Vision' is not by him but is the work of an anonymous writer of the following century. Tanner has enumerated his books and manuscript with the libraries of Oxford and elsewhere, where they are preserved.
Ripley adopted an allegorical approach to alchemy, and his most important writings are his Compound of Alchemy in verse which describes the alchemical process as undergoing twelve stages or 'Gates', and his emblematic 'Ripley Scrowle'. The Compound of Alchymy, was one of the most popular on the subject. it circulated widely in manuscript. It was first printed at London :
The title has a woodcut border; there is an ornamental capital E containing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth (note: Queen Elizabeth died in 1602; George could have had nothing to do with this cover), to whom the book is dedicated, and there is an engraved diagram called Ripley's Wheel. Ashmole reprinted it in the Theatrum Britannicum and added a note upon the author. He also printed several other pieces by Ripley: 'Verses belonging to his Scrowle', 'The Mistery of Alchymists', 'the Preface to his Medulla, which he wrote Ann. Dom. 1476, and dedicated to Geo. Nevell then Archbishop of Yorke', and another 'Shorte Worke'. All of these, like the 'Compound of Alchymy', are in verse.
Bibliography of printed books
The Compound of Alchymy. Or the ancient hidden Art of Alchemie: Conteining the right & perfectest meanes to make the Philosophers Stone, Aurum potabile, with other excellent Experiments. Divided into twelue Gates. First written by the learned and rare Philosopher of our Nation George Ripley,.. . whereunto is adioyned his Epistle to the King, his Vision, his Wheele, and other his Workes, neuer before published: ... Set foorth by Ralph Rabbards Gentleman... London Imprinted by Thomas Orwin, 1591, small 4to. 52 folios.
To quote a prayer of George Ripley...
PRAYER OF RIPLEY IN MEDULLA ALCHEMIAE
"O most Incomprehensible Light, most glorious in majesty, who with the clarity of Thy heavenly rays dost darken our dimmer light; O substantial Unity, the Divine Three, the joy and rejoicing of the heavenly host, the glory of our redemption. Thou most merciful, the purifier of souls, and the perpetual subsistence, O most gracious, through daily dangers and perils which Thou sufferest us to undergo, and through this vexatious veil of vanity, bring us to Thy Heavenly Kingdom. "O power and wisdom, Thou goodness inexplicable, uphold us daily, and be our guide and director, that we may never displease thee all the days of our lives, but obey Thee as faithful professors of Thy Holy name. Early, even betimes, O Lord, hear Thou my prayers, by virtue of Thy grace help forward my desires, and enable me, I beseech Thee, to perform Thy Holy Will. O most excellent fountain, boundless in treasures, Thou scatterest Thy good things without measure amongst the sons of men, and Thou makest every ot her creature to partake of Thine especial kindness. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to behold the works of Thy hand and to defend what Thy right hand hath planted, that we may not live unprofitably, nor spend the course of our years in vanities. Grant, therefore, we beseech Thee, that we may live without falsehood and deceit, that avoiding the great danger of a sinful course of life, we may escape the snares of sin . "And as I renounceth love of the things of this life, and the concupiscence or lusts thereof, so accept of me, Thy servant, as a true and spontaneous votary, who wholly depends on Thy goodness, with all confidence, possessing nothing more. "We submit ourselves to Thee, for so it is fit; vouchsafe Thy light to discover to us the immortal treasures of life; shew us Thy hidden things, and be merciful and good unto us. "Among the rest of Thy servants, who profess Thy name, I offer myself with all humble submission; and I beseech Thee O Lord, to forgive me, if I open and reveal Thy secrets to Thy faithful servants. Amen."
Marriage 1 Spouse b: ABT. 1425
Married: ABT. 1445 in Bridlington, Yorkshire
Richard Repton Ripley b: ABT. 1447 in Thoralby, Yorkshire, England
George Ripley b: ABT. 1448 in Bridlington, Yorkshire
George married about 1445 in Bridlington, Yorkshire, England.