Edward Kelley
Historical Figure
Nationality: England
Date of Birth: 1555
Date of Death: 1597
Cause of Death: Fall from a tower
Occupation: Chemist, medium, criminal
Fictional Appearances:
Ruled Britannia
POD: July-August, 1588
Type of Appearance: Direct
Date of Death: 1597
Cause of Death: Burned at the stake

Edward Kelley or Kelly, also known as Edward Talbot (1 August 1555 – 1 November 1597) was a convicted English criminal and self-declared spirit medium who worked with John Dee in his magical investigations. Besides the professed ability to summon spirits or angels on a crystal ball, Kelley also claimed to possess the secret of transmuting base metals into gold.

Legends began to surround Kelley shortly after his death. His flamboyant biography, and his relative notoriety among English-speaking historians (chiefly because of his association with Dee) may have made him the source for the folklorical image of the alchemist-charlatan.

The cause of his death is uncertain, but legend holds that he was imprisoned near Prague, and was killed after a long fall from a tower while attempting an escape.

Edward Kelley in Ruled Britannia[]

Edward Kelley was executed by the English Inquisition on 1 November 1597 at an auto da fe, but not before calling out to William Shakespeare, whom he had met through their mutual acquaintance, Christopher Marlowe.[1]

Kelley had previously run afoul of Elizabeth's justice, having been found guilty of counterfeiting base metals into gold coins. As part of his punishment, his ears had been cut off.[2]


  1. Ruled Britannia, pgs. 9-10.
  2. Ibid., pg. 9