Ralph Stokesey

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Exeter Cathedral close

Ralph Stokesey was a notable Aureate magician from Exeter, the county town of Devon*, where he lived in a house** across from the Cathedral. He was assisted in much of his magic by his fairy-servant, Col Tom Blue.

Stokesey was apparently a man of very eager temperament. Gilbert Norrell refers to tales that he indulged in magical duels with other magicians, including the ruler of Athodel [63]: Jonathan Strange recalled how Stokesey boldly dogged Col Tom Blue to his very brugh and fairly tricked him into becoming his servant[54]. Indeed it was said that in point of reckless temper and freaks of humour there was not a pin to choose between Stokesey and his fairy companions.

Like many of his fellow Aureates Stokesey wrote nothing about magic and nothing about himself; or at least, nothing has survived. This negligence in his case is the more culpable inasmuch as Stokesey, unlike many magicians, had attended grammar school and knew Latin[1].

Editor's note:

  • Although Stokesey himself is a Devonian born, his father or grandfather was presumably from Shropshire, since that is where the village of Stokesay is found. Yet more proof, is such were needed, that Jonathan Strange is not the first Shropshireman with a natural bent towards magic.
    • Stokesey's house is no longer in the Cathedral close, having long ago vanished with its master[69]