by Nick

It’s getting late and I should really get some sleep, but I wanted to share this wonderful marginalia I have just come across in the British Library copy of Thomas Shepard’s The sincere convert (London, 1640). From what I can make out, at least two different hands have marked it.

First there is Elizabeth Bearde, who wrote her name across the title page:

On a blank page she has then written her first name with a flourish:

There is also another reader called John, whose surname I can’t make out: maybe Stonhall?

He (at least I think it’s the same hand) has also written his first name down on another page:

There are then various places where someone has been practicing their letters, by spelling out the alphabet and copying chunks of the printed text:

But the most intriguing thing of all is the page where it looks as if someone has been practicing shorthand. I am pretty sure this is an example of Thomas Shelton’s Tachygraphy, the same shorthand that Samuel Pepys used to write his diaries.

I must say I haven’t had a go at deciphering it yet – maybe that can wait until tomorrow morning. But if anyone with access with EEBO wants to have a go, you can find the first edition of Shelton’s method here. There are also a few tables available at Wikimedia Commons.