John Field, Astronomer

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John Field, Sr

Also Known As: "John Felde", "John Feild", "John the Elder", "Reverend Field", "The Astronomer"
Birthdate: (62)
Birthplace: East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Death: Died in East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Cause of death: Will proved 3 May 1587 East Ardsley, England
Place of Burial: East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Field and Elizabeth Field
Husband of Jane Field
Father of William Field; Christopher Field; Matthew Field; Richard Field, disowned; John Field, Jr. and 5 others
Brother of Thomas Feild; Muriel Palmer and William Feild

Occupation: Rector of Cripplegate, astronomer
Managed by: Carole (Erickson) Pomeroy,Vol. C...
Last Updated:

About John Field, Astronomer

"I John Feild of Ardeslow, fermor, sometymes studente in the mathymathicall sciences" [3a] is how he described himself in his Will of 1586. On the 4th September 1558 (aged about 33) he received confirmation of his right to the family Arms; and the grant of a Crest awarded for his services in astronomical science. In the previous year he published his 'English' ephemeris, i.e. an almanac of star and planet positions for navigators based on our planetary system with the Sun at the centre and not the Earth. The work was inspired by "De revolutionibus orbitum coelestium" (1543) by the Polish monk Nicholas Copernicus. The acceptance and development of this revelation simplified the task of navigating the World and exploiting its resouces. In contrast, Europeans were in denial about the Sun-centric system for many years, times in which there was the prosecution of Galileo for his support of the Copernicans. Dr John Dee 9 (1509-1609) philosopher, scientist and magician of the Tudor age, wrote a preface to John Field's 1557 almanac which is thought to be Dee's first published work. For a chronology of those times this link to Dr John Dee's career is recommended.

  • England's famous astronomer


John Field or Feild (1520/30–1587), was a 'proto-Copernican' English astronomer. Feild was the son of Richard Field (d. 1542). He was born, it is supposed, at Ardsley in the West Riding of Yorkshire between 1520 and 1530. He received a liberal education, and Mr. Joseph Hunter, his descendant, conjectures that part of it was gained under the patronage of Alured Comyn, Prior of St. Oswald's, from which house the cell of Woodkirk, near Ardsley, depended. Anthony à Wood believes that he studied at Oxford.

He published:

  • ‘Ephemeris anni 1557 currentis juxta Copernici et Reinholdi canones … per J. Feild … ad Meridianum Londinensem … supputata. Adjecta est Epistola J. Dee, qua vulgares istos Ephemeridum fictores reprehendit,’ London, 1556, 4to.
  • ‘Ephemerides trium annorum, an. 1558, 59 et 60 … ex Erasmi Reinoldi tabulis accuratissimè ad Meridianum Civitatis Londinensis supputatæ,’ London, 1558, 4to.

To the latter work the following are added:

  • ‘Canon Ascensionum Obliquarum cujusvis stellæ non excedentis 8 gradus Latitudinis confectus,’ and
  • ‘Tabula Stellarum Fixarum insigniorum,’ &c.

These works were the first in England in which the principles of the Copernican philosophy were recognised and asserted.

He lived in London at the date of his first ‘Ephemeris,’ and appears, from a remark in a manuscript in the Lambeth Library, to have been a public instructor in science. On 4 September 1558 he received a confirmation of arms and the grant of a crest allusive to his attainments in astronomical science, viz. the device of a red arm issuing from the clouds and presenting a golden orrery.

He married, about 1560, Jane (d. 1609), daughter of John Amyas, a Kentish gentleman, and some time between that date and 1577, settled down at Ardsley, where he continued till his death, his position being that of a gentleman held in esteem among the better class of his neighbours. In the Yorkshire visitation of 1585 he recorded his arms and crest and the names of his wife and nine children. In his will, dated 28 Dec. 1586, he describes himself as a ‘fermer sometyme student in the mathymathicke sciences.’ He died soon after the date of this will, the administration of his estate being granted to his widow on 3 May 1587. His library passed into the hands of William Coley of York, who afterwards returned it to the family.



  • John Field
  • M, b. circa 1524, d. 3 May 1587
  • Father Richard Field b. c 1500, d. 19 Aug 1542
  • Mother Elizabeth d. a 1542
  • John Field was born circa 1524 at London, Middlesex, England. He married Jane Amyas, daughter of John Amyas and Margaret Frost, on 1 January 1546 at Ardsley, Yorkshire, England. John Field died on 3 May 1587 at East Ardsley, Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
  • Family Jane Amyas b. 1528, d. 30 Aug 1609
  • Child
    • John Field+ b. 1568
  • From:


  • Field genealogy; being the record of all the Field family in America, whose ancestors were in this country prior to 1700. Emigrant ancestors located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia. All descendants of the Fields of England, whose ancestor, Hurbutus de la Field, was from Alsace-Lorraine (1901)
  • Pg.24
  • The will ot Jane, widow ot John Field, is dated July 17, 1609, and she was buried at East Ardsley, Aug. 3, 1609. They had nine children — Richard, born in 1562; Matthew, born in 1563; Christopher, born in 1565; John, born in 1568; William, born in 1570; Thomas, born in 1572; James, born in 1574; Martin, born in 1577; Ann, born in 1580. The oldest, Richard, was disinherited by his father. Matthew, lord of the manor of Thumscoe, named in his mother's will, died June 2, 1631. Letters ot administration granted to his son, Matthew, Aug. 4, 1631. Christopher not named in his mother's will. John not named in his mother's will. William ot Thumscoe, executor of his mother's will. Thomas named in his mother's will, in which she calls him her third son. James, Martin, or Ann are not named in their mother's will. By their not being named, Mr. Osgood Field thinks they were not living, which is a matter of doubt, as they may have espoused the Puritan cause and left England.
  • Pg.70
  • 35. RICHARD FELDE (William, William, Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. probably East Ardsley, England ; m. Elizabeth . Richard made his will Aug. 19, 1542, and it was proved Dec. 8, 1542. He describes himself as "husbandman of the parish of Ardeslowe," and desires his wife, Elizabeth, and John Felde, my son, have the take of the farmhold, and makes them executors. He adds "also I will that my children have their portion and that Mr. Thomas Felde, my brother, and Christopher Nowell be my supervisors." He d. December, 1542. Res. East Ardsley, England.
    • 42. i. JOHN, b. about 1525; m. Jane Amyas.
    • 43. ii. OTHER children.
  • Pg.73
  • 42. JOHN FIELD (Richard, William, William, Thomas. Thomas. John. Thomas, Roger), b. about 1525, East Ardsley. England; m. 1560, Jane Amyas. dau, of John: d. Aug. 30, 1609. He d. May, 1587. Res. Ardislawe. England.
  • John Felde has been styled "the proto-Copernican ot England, inasmuch as he was the first to make known in that country by his writings the discoveries of this remarkable man, who delayed for a long time the publication of his famous work. "De Orbium Coelestium Revolutionibus." on account of the opposition and persecution to be feared from persons who considered its teachings opposed to those of the Bible. Although completed in 1530, it was not printed till 1543, when its author was on his death-bed. Works based on the new system (which revolutionized the science of astronomy) by Rheticus and Reinhold had appeared in Germany a few years earlier, but the "Ephemeris" of John Field for 1557 which was published in that year, was the first opportunity afforded the people of England of becoming acquainted with the true motions of the heavenly bodies. In the following year he issued a similar work, calculated for 1558, 1559, 1560. Probably these were not his only publications, but no others have come down to us, and only two copies of these are known to exist, the British Museum and Bodleian Library, at Oxford, each possessing both works.
  • John Field was born probably between 15 10 and 1520. It could not have been much after the last date, as he was co-executor of his father's will in 1542. Wood, the historian of Oxford University, claims that he belonged to that sect of learning, which is not improbable, as his writings show that he had received a good classical education. It has been impossible to find anything of him anywhere from the date of his father's will, 1542, to the publication of his first "Ephemeris," 1557, when he was residing in London, where he may have and quite likely did pass the fourteen years intervening. A portion of the time he, not improbably, spent abroad, and no doubt acquired in Germany his knowledge of. and zeal for. the new theories, which he promulgated afterward m his native land.
  • By a patent, dated Sept. 4. 1558, the heralds formerly recognized his right to the family arms; Sable, a chevron between three garbs argent, and at the same time they granted to him the following crest: A dexter arm issuing out of clouds fesseways proper, habited gules, holding in the hand, also proper, a sphere or. This appropriate crest may be considered a recognition of his services to the cause of astronomy.
  • We assume that it was about 1560 that he married Jane, daughter of John Amyas, ot Kent, as she is described in the Herald's visitation of Yorkshire in 1584-85. Mr. Hunter in an article referred to elsewhere, says that he had searched in vain for genealogical information in Kent without discovering anything of this lady, or her family. This failure is easily explained by the fact that the Amyas was not a Kentish, but a Yorkshire name. The family had been seated in the immediate neighborhood of Ardsley from a early date. In all probability John Amyas removed from there to Kent, and possibly his wife's family belonged to that county. As tar back as the first of Edward 1. the tolls ot Wakefield manor were let to John de Amyas for ^i^ioo a year. His daughter, Matilda, married John Waterton, of Walton, whose family has been for centuries one of the most distinguished of that neighborhood. The Amyas's were seated for generations at Sandal, Harbury and Thornhill, all of which are within half a dozen miles of East Ardsley, where John Field resided. There "is no question but he chose a wife among his ........
  • Pg.74
  • John Field, of East Ardsley. co-executor of his father's will, had the family arms confirmed, and a crest granted to him Sept. 4. i558. The Herald's visitation ot Yorkshire. 1585, records the names of himself, wife and children. His will, dated Dec. 28, 1586, was proved May 3, 1587
  • Jane, daughter ot John Amyas, of Kent, executrix ot her husband's will. Her own is dated July 17. 1609. Buried at East Ardsley, Aug. 3. 1609.
  • Although John Field was one of the most distinguished pioneers in the cause of science of whom England can boast, his memory has been almost entirely and unjustly neglected by his countrymen, and even in astronomical circles his is hardly, or not at all known. For further information in relation to him the reader is referred to Gentleman's Magazine, May, 1834. to an article by Rev. Joseph Hunter, and November, 1862, to an article by,Osgood Field. ...... etc.
  • Pg.76
    • 62. i. RICHARD, b. 1563. Richard Field, aged 22, in 1585, disinherited by his father. He had a daughter, Mary, in 1609; not then 21. Mentioned in the will of her grandmother, Jane.
    • 63. ii. JOHN, b. 1568; m. .
    • 64. iii. MATTHEW, b. 1563; m. Margaret .
    • 65. iv. CHRISTOPHER,:b. 1565. Christopher Field and John Feild, his brother, not named in their mother's will; probably went away from home.
    • 66. v. THOMAS, b. 1572; named in his mother's will; called third son.
    • 67. vi. WILLIAM, b. 1570: m. Mrs. Jane (Sotwell) Burdette.
    • 68. vii. JAMES, b. 1574; named in both his father's and mother's will.
    • 69. viii. MARTIN, b. 1577; named in both his father's and mother's wills.
    • 70. ix. ANNE, b. 1580; prob. d. young, but named in her mother's will.


  • Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the ..., Volume 2 edited by William Richard Cutter, William Frederick Adams
  • Pg.1187
    • FIELD
  • This name is a very ancient one, and can be traced back to the conquest of England by William the Norman. Probably not a dozen families in England can prove so great an antiquity. The name is one of those derived from locality. Burke states that this family was originally in Alsace (then part of French now of German territory), seated at the Chateau de la Feld (of the field), near Colmar (German, Kolmar), from the darkest of the middle ages. Hubertus de la Feld was the first of the line that emigrated to England, and in 1069 was enrolled as the owner of lands by gift of the Conqueror, as compensation for military service, in the county of Lancaster. He was one of the Counts de la Feld, of Colmar. In the fourteenth century, because of the wars with France, the French prefixes were dropped, and the name thereafter written Field.
  • (I) Roger del Feld, born in Sowerby, England, about 1240, was a descendant of Sir Hubertus, and head of the family which settled in Lancashire and Kent counties.
  • (II) Thomas, son of Roger, was born about 1278, in Sowerby, and was a jeweler there in 1307.
  • (III) John, son of Thomas, was born in 1300, in Sowerby, and had land there in 1336.
  • (IV) Thomas (2), son of John, was born in 1330, in Sowerby, and was constable there in 1365, and greave in 1370, and also filled other public offices. His wife's name was Annabelle.
  • (V) Thomas (3), son of Thomas (2) and Annabelle Feld, was born in 1360, and willed lands to his wife, Isabel, in the territory of Bradford. He died in 1429, at his residence in Bradford.
  • (VI) William, son of Thomas (3) and Isabel Feld, was born probably, in Bradford, and died in April, 1480, at Bradford. His wife, Katherine, was administratrix of his estate.
  • (VII) William (2), son of William (1) and Katherine Feld, was born in Bradford and lived in East Ardsley.
  • (VIII) Richard Felde, son of William (2) Feld, was born, probably in East Ardsley, where he was a husbandman, and died
  • Pg. 1188
  • December, 1542. His wife, Elizabeth, was one of his executors.
  • (IX) John (2) Field, son of Richard and Elizabeth Felde, was born about 1535, at East Ardsley, and married, in 1560, Jane Amyas, daughter of John. She died August 30, 1609, and he died May, 1587. He was an eminent astronomer, and introduced into England, in 1557, the Copernican system, against the opposition of scientists of his day , and in recognition of this service to the science of astronomy a sphere was later added to and surmounted the family coat-of-arms.
  • (X) John (3), son of John (2) and Jane Field, was born about 1568, in Ardsley, and moved away before attaining his majority. Record of his death has not been found.
  • (XI) Zachariah Field, grandson of John (2) Field, the astronomer, American ancestor of the Field family, was born in 1596, at East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England. The Field family has usually taken the liberal side of religious and political questions, and in 1629 Zachariah Field left England on account of the persecution of the dissenters, and landed in Boston, settling at Dorchester. In 1636 he was one of the Rev. Thomas Hooker's congregation, which settled at Hartford, Connecticut. With the more liberal members of that church he removed to Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1659. He was engaged in mercantile business, and had a large trade with the Indians. He was one of the original twenty-five proprietors of Hatfield, same colony, and was a member of the committee which laid out the lands. He received a grant of land there in 1661, and resided there until his death, June 30, 1666. He was married about 1641, and his wife Mary died about 1670. Their children were: Mary, Zachariah, John, Samuel and Joseph.



Listed in Foxe's Book Of Martyrs, imprisoned for conjuring, knighted by Mary I (Bloody Mary) for publishing the Copernican Theory in England.


  • Field genealogy; being the record of all the Field family in America, whose ancestors were in this country prior to 1700. Emigrant ancestors located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia. All descendants of the Fields of England, whose ancestor, Hurbutus de la Field, was from Alsace-Lorraine
  • 21. WILLIAM FELD (Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. possibly Bradford, England, ___ ; m. Katherine ___ . Letters of administration granted his widow April 21, 1480. She was administratrix of the estate. He d. April, 1480. Res. Parish of Bradford, England.
    • 30. i. WILLIAM, b. ___ ; m. ___ ___ .
    • 31. ii. JOHN, b. ___ ; m. ___ ___ .
  • 30. WILLIAM FELD (William, Thomas, Thomas, John. Thomas, Roger), b. Bradford, England; m. ___ ___ . Res. East Ardsley, England.
    • 35. i. RICHARD, b. ; m. Elizabeth —-.
    • 35 1/2. ii- THOMAS, b. ___ . Thomas Felde, supervisor of his brother Richard's will in 1542. In 1545 he is assessed for lands in East Ardsley. His brother Richard refers to him in his will, "Mr. Thomas Felde, my brother."
    • 36. iii. JOHN, b, about 1519; m. ___ .


  • Field genealogy (Volume v.2) - Pierce, Frederick Clifton, 1855-1904
  • "Being the record of the Field family in America, whose ancestors were in the country prior to 1700. Emigrant ancestors located in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Virginia. All descendants of the Fields of England, whose ancestor, Hurbutus De la Field, was from Alsace-Lorraine."
  • 36. REV. JOHN FIELD (William, William, Thomas, Thomas, John, Thomas, Roger), b. near Bradford, England about 1519; m. __ __. He was rector of Cripplegate, and the author of "A Godly Exhortation by Occasion of the Late Judgment of God Showed at Paris Garden, 13 Jan., 1583," a violent attack upon theatrical entertainments. He d. March 26, 1587-8. Res. Cripplegate, London, England.
    • 6761. i. THEOPHILUS, b. Jan. 22, 1574; m. Alice __.
    • 6762. ii. JOHN, JR., b. about 1579; m. Elen Hutchinson.
    • 6763. iii. NATHANIEL, b. June 13, 1581; d. young.
    • 6764. iv. NATHANIEL, b. Oct. 17. 1587; m. Anne __.


  • Rev John Field
  • Birth: 1545 London, England
  • Death: Feb., 1588 London, England
  • John Field was born in London sometime around 1545. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, and was ordained in the ministry by Edmund Grindal (then Bishop of London, later Archibishop of Canterbury) when he (Field) was only 21. This was a departure from custom, as ministers were not usually ordained until age 24. In 1568, he was a lecturer, curate and school master in London.
  • John Field was one of the leaders of a group of clergymen who advocated reforms of the Church of England. He was so outspoken in his criticism of the Church, that he was barred from preaching from 1571 to 1579, and occasionally imprisoned. He wrote "A View of Popish Abuses yet remaining in the English Church" in 1572, and, together with Thomas Wilcox, wrote, "An Admonition to the Parliament." He is said to have founded the first Presbyterian Church in England at Wandsworth in Surrey, in 1572, and sought to organize the Puritans in England into a hierarchy of Presbyterian synods, advocating a decrease in formal ritual and gesture in public prayer, and a greater emphasis on preaching. He was probably the author of some of the Marprelate tracts.
  • An interesting article on him (though it appears to have his death date wrong) can be found at:
  • It is rather interesting, since John Field spent much of his career denouncing Bishops....and also the decadence of the theatre, that one of his sons, Theophilus Field (1574-1636), became Bishop of Llandaf, and later Bishop of Hereford; and his youngest son, Nathan Field (1587-1619/20), was one of the most accomplished playwrights and actors of his day.
  • Burial: St Giles Cripplegate Churchyard, London, City of London, Greater London, England
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 25009446
  • From:


view all 30

John Field, Astronomer's Timeline

East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 23
January 1, 1556
Age 31
Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 38
., East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 38
East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 40
., East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 43
Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
Age 47
., East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
January 22, 1573
Age 48
London, United Kingdom