Forman, Simon (1552–1611)
Simon Forman, a late sixteenth-century magical practitioner,
was born on December 30, 1552, at Quidhampton, Wiltshire,
England. He received a grammar school education and
at some point mastered Latin. At the age of 37 he moved to
London and took up the practice of astrology, magic, and medicine.
In the context of the times, though without any credentials,
he was a success as a doctor and accumulated some degree
of wealth.
Forman followed many of the common medical practices of
his day, such as bleeding, but avoided some of the more egregious.
He used his astrological skills to diagnose conditions and
prescribe treatment. But possibly the most important attribute
demonstrated by Forman was his willingness to stay in London
and care for patients during times of plague outbreaks.
Forman, a contemporary of John Dee, the more famous of
the Elizabethan magicians, had a passion for magic, and his papers
included magical texts, most notably an introductory text
for the summoning of spirits. It also appears that he practiced
some of the lesser forms of traditional magic, namely the practice
of supplying clients with vials of poison, the knowledge of
which was quite consistent with his medical training.
The most famous incident in Forman’s life actually consisted
of a series of events that concluded only some years after his
death. The young and beautiful daughter of the Earl of Suffolk
was in despair over being forced to marry the Earl of Essex. She
turned to Forman, who supplied her with a potion that rendered
the earl impotent and thus unable to consummate the
marriage. After her marriage was annulled, she turned her attention
to the Earl of Somerset, and to assist in getting his attention
she had Forman make her some waxed figures that became
the focus of some image magic. In the midst of this
working, Forman died (1611). His magic was successful, however,
and in 1613, the young lady became the wife of the Earl of
During her courtship, she became aware that Sir Thomas
Overbury was trying to reach her future husband and warn him
of her machinations. Before he could reach Somerset, however,
he was arrested on an unrelated matter. The future wife decided
to eliminate her problem and turned to Forman’s student,
Anne Turner, also skilled in the art of poison. When she was
successful, accusations led to her arrest and that of the earl and
his wife. Tried in 1616, they were found guilty. Turner was executed.
King James pardoned the earl and his wife. While the
pair were able to return to their home, Forman’s nefarious activities
became public and have since set his image for the pages
of history.
Forman, Simon Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
Rowse, A. L. The Case Books of Simon Forman. London Picador,
Turner, Robert. Elizabethan Magic. Longmead, Dorset, UK
Element Books, 1989.

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