Smith, Robert Cross (1795–1832)
Robert Cross Smith, a pioneering modern astrologer, was
the first of a lineage of British astrologers to use the pseudonym
Raphael with his writings. He was born in Bristol, England,
on March 19, 1795. He became a carpenter and in 1820
married Sarah Lucas. Soon after his marriage he moved to
London. In the city he became interested in astrology, possibly
due to his acquaintance with G. W. Graham, the balloonist. The
pair authored a book on geomancy, Philosophical Merlin, in
1822. In 1824, Smith became the editor of a new magazine, The
Struggling Astrologer, but it failed for lack of subscribers after
only a few issues. Then, two years later, he was offered the opportunity
to edit an almanac, The Prophetic Messenger. The first
issue appeared in 1827 under his pen name and carried the
ephemeris (chart of daily planetary positions) that was to become
so identified with him.
Smith edited The Prophetic Messenger annually for the rest of
his life. It was widely read and the ephemeris used by an increasing
number of astrologers. Following Smith’s death on
February 26, 1832, in London, his work as Raphael would be
continued by a series of astrologers who successively inherited
the title. Eventually, Raphael’s Ephemeris would be issued as a
separate volume and become the standard text consulted by
both British and American astrologers for the construction of
their clients’ horoscopes. The Ephemeris was unique in introducing
in its table of houses the system of house division developed
by the Italian monk Placidus de Titus (1603–1668). Through
the success of Raphael’s Ephemeris, the Placidian system of house
division would come to dominate English-speaking countries.
Smith also wrote several books, the most important being A
Manual of Astrology (1828), which joined James Wilson’s Dictionary
of Astrology as a basic textbook for astrology. It continued
to be reprinted into the twentieth century. Raphael thus joined
Wilson, his older contemporary, in creating the astrological revival
that, following a century of decline, would initiate two centuries
of steady growth.
Sources
Brau, Jean-Louis, Helean Weaver, and Allan Edwards. Larousse
Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York New American Library,
1982.
Raphael [pseudonym of Robert C. Smith]. The Familiar Astrologer.
London Knight & Lacey, 1828.
———. A Manual of Astrology. London C. S. Arnold, 1828.
———, and G. W. Graham. Philosophical Merlin. London,
1822.