Jeremiah Burroughs, The Saints Happiness (1660)

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By Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

Burroughs’s irenic personality, noted by many who knew him, is clearly exemplified in his decision to exposit the Beatitudes (originally given in forty-one sermons and compiled into Saint’s Happiness) as found in Matthew 5, which extol meekness, mercy, and peacemaking. This copy, donated by Dr. J. I. Packer, has an interesting array of signatures: one from Sarah Allyson who seems to have been married twice (in the second instance becoming Sarah Metham, “now Wife to” Mr. Metham in “April 1725”) as well as a “Mary Allyson Brooke 1701.”

Source: Allison Library, Regent College, shelf mark HP Coll. BX 7233 .B87 G67 1660 JRA RARE. Photographs by Jenny-Lyn de Klerk.


Trotti de La Chétardie, Instructions for a Young Nobleman, or, The Idea of a Person of Honour (1683)


This 1683 English translation of Trotti de La Chétardie’s conduct book for young noblemen is inscribed not by a man, but by Sarah Walcot, whose ownership inscription on the book’s front blank leaf appears to date from the 18th century. There is also an inscription from a Sarah Walcot in The Folger Shakespeare Library’s copy of A Helpe to Discourse, or, A Miscelany of Seriousnesse with Merriment (1631, STC 1551.35), though it is not clear whether the two individuals are the same.


The bookseller “S. Magnes” in the imprint of Instructions for a Young Nobleman is Susanna Magnes, about whom little is known.

Source: Book offered for sale by Bernard Quaritch, 1/4/19. Images used with permission.

Book of Common Prayer (1678)

By Dr Michael Durrant


A small folio edition of the English Book of Common Prayer (1678), which is now housed at Bangor University Library, contains numerous handwritten notes, annotations, signatures, and ownership marks, dated from the late-seventeenth century through to the mid-eighteenth century. If we narrativize these inscriptions and place them in chronological order, the earliest markups are probably dated to the period between 1688 and 1702. This is likely because a reader has manipulated the book’s contents to keep it up to date, manually redacting or augmenting references to Charles II and his wider family, and substituting them with the names of the post-1688 co-monarchs, William and Mary. The image below offers one example of these editorial revisions (sig. G3r). In this image, we can see the reader has transformed the determiner ‘his’ to read ‘their’; ‘CHARLES’ has been scribbled over, replaced in the margin with ‘William and Mary’; ‘King and Govenour’ has been modified to read ‘King and Queen’, while the ‘ERINE’ of ‘Queen CATHERINE’ has also been blotted out, with the remaining ‘C’, ‘T’, and ‘H’ letters being cannily amended using pen and ink so that it reads ‘M’, ‘R’, and ‘Y’. Reference to the then ‘James Duke of York’, and future Catholic King James II, have been thoroughly defaced, too, replaced by the addition of ‘Catherine Queen Dowager [and] her Royal Highness the Princess Anne of Denmark’.


On the book’s left board various members of the ‘Moyle’ family—Thomas, Randle, Elisabeth, and Jane—have each signed their names. Randle’s name appears five times (a sixth example seems to be obscured by a book plate). At least one of Randle’s signatures is accompanied by the proprietary phrase, ‘His Book’. Each of his signatures are dated 1751, although his name appears again towards the very end of the book (sig. Yy2r), this time dated 1766, which is some fifteen years after he made inscriptions on the left board. Just beneath Randle’s 1751 signatures, and in a different hand, is the name ‘Thomas Moyle’, which is accompanied by ‘His Book 1753’. This has been written in a more ornate italic style. At the bottom of the left board is the name ‘Elisabeth Moyle’, which is dated ‘1759’, and immediately to the left of that appears to be the faint outline of the name ‘Jane’, which has been partially blotted out.


Thomas Moyle was a freeholder who resided in Stratford, in the parish of West Ham, Essex. Thomas married his wife Sarah (née Jones) on 30 October 1766 at St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate. The signature on his marriage license provides an exact match to the one visible on the left board of BX5145.A4, and evidence from Thomas’s last will and testament, probated on 14 August 1787 (NA PROB 11/1156/157), suggests that he, Randal, Elisabeth, and Jane were siblings. Thomas bequeathed the majority of his goods and estate, valued at £200, to Sarah; the remainder of his est ate was shared between his sister ‘Jane’, his brother, ‘Randall’, and the surviving children of his then deceased sister, ‘Elisabeth’. Because of Thomas’s marriage license, which stipulates that he was twenty-one when he married Sarah, it is possible to deduce that he was about forty-two when he died, and around eight years old when he made his mark this 1678 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

Claims to textual ownership were also made by Thomas and Randle’s sisters, Elizabeth and Jane. On the book’s right board, Elisabeth and Jane’s names appear again, this time accompanied by two devotional poems. Both of these inscriptions appear to be written in the same hand, and the writing style manifest at the back of the book matches Elisabeth’s 1759 signature at the front. The first example, headed ‘Elizabeth Moyle’, mingles a proprietary claim with reference to a sound traditionally associated with illness, death, and burial:

Elizabeth Moyle
Hir Book God gave her Grace here
In to look and when her [lifs] pesing
Bell doeth tole the Lord Have mercey
on her sole[.]

The second inscription, headed ‘Jane’, taps into orthodox Christian metaphors of the body-as-ship and the sea-as-world:

Jane Moyle
This world a sey our soole a ship
Which stormy wind doth tos
and if wee let our ancor slip
we are in danger to Be lost[.]


These lines have been adapted from the Particular Baptist minister Benjamin Keach’s Spiritual Melody of 1691, where it appeared under the heading ‘Hymn 104’:

This World’s a Sea, our Soul’s a Ship
With raging Tempest tost;
And if she should her Anchor slip,
She doubtless will be lost[.][1]

Keach’s introductory note stipulates the hymn’s provinance: ‘Heb. 6. 19. Which Hope we have as the Anchor of the Soul’, although Keach might also have had in mind any number of literary engagements with this metaphor, including Francis Quarles’s book of Emblemes (1643), where an accompanying verse to his emblematic depiction of Psalm 62:15 includes the line, ‘The world’s a sea; my flesh a ship that’s mann’d’.[2] Significantly, Elisabeth’s (or ‘Jane’s’) commonplacing has brought with it several deviations from the 1691 verse, notably the substitution of the gendered pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’, used by Keach to describe the ship, with ‘wee’ and ‘our’. This grammatical shift emphasizes personal participation and interaction, an issue that is enacted visibly on the book’s left board, where a formerly blank space has been transformed into a sociable one by each of the Moyle children.

Source: Bangor University, Archives and Special Collection; Call number: General Rare Books Large, BX5145.A4 1678). Photographs by Michael Durrant, used with permission.

[1] Benjamin Keach, Spiritual Melody, Containing near Three Hundred Sacred Hymns (London: John Hancock, 1691), p.254.

[2] Keach, p.254; Francis Quarles, Emblemes (Cambridge: Francis Eglesfield, 1643), Book 3, p.169.

Giovanni Boccaccio, The Novels and Tales of the Renowned John Boccacio (1684)


Elizabeth Hawksmoor signed this late seventeenth-century edition of Boccaccio’s works. Though it is difficult to ascertain the precise date of the hand, it is worth noting that the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor had a daughter named Elizabeth. She is one candidate for the identity of the book’s owner, though the attribution is by no means definitive.

An Elizabeth Hawksmoor also inscribed the title page of a 1661 edition of Silius Italicus’s epic poem Punius, now held Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library. The book includes the inscription, dated 11 October, 1683, of another female owner “R. Remee.”


Source: Book offered for sale by Roger Middleton, 3/22/19. Images used with permission.

Anne Bogan: New Testament (1638) and Book of Psalms (1640)

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By Maureen E. Maryanski

This twenty-fourmo New Testament printed by Robert Barker in London in 1638 is bound together with The Whole Booke of Psalmes, collected into English meter by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, William Whittingham and others…. printed by J.L. in London in 1640. Bound in satin and embroidered with colored silks and silver thread, the binding features the figure of a woman in a yellow dress on both covers. Flower patterns surround the central oval panels and decorate the spine. While the identity of the embroidering binder is unknown, one owner left her mark throughout the little volume: Anne Bogan. In one inscription, her last name has been blotted out with ink, but her note “her book” is still legible. A later hand added Bogan in pencil beneath the ink blot. Bonus: gorgeous gilt gauffered edges!

Source: The Lilly Library, Indiana University Bloomington, call number: BS2085 1638 .L5. Photographs by Maureen E. Maryanski.

Barbara Golde and the Duchess of Suffolk: the Sermons of Hugh Latimer (1549)




The Folger Library copy of the sermons of Hugh Latimer printed in 1549 (STC 15270.5; bound with 15274) bears traces of women’s book patronage and ownership: Katherine Willoughby Brandon, the Duchess (dowager) of Suffolk (1519-80) sponsored the book which was printed with her coat of arms on the verso of the title page; and an unknown woman, Barbara Golde, inscribed her name on the title page.

In 1549 the reformist preacher Hugh Latimer delivered seven high-profile sermons in front of King Edward VI and the court at the large outdoor pulpit at Westminster Palace (see Wabuda). Latimer ruffled feathers by lambasting some of his auditors for their moral failings, but he praised both the Duchess of Suffolk and Queen Katherine Parr as exemplary reformed Christians.

The sermons were printed with a dedication in which Thomas Some boldly aligned the duchess with the Old Testament prophetess, Huldah (3v). Suffolk’s coat of arms are found in at least 10 religious volumes printed between 1548 and 1549, and Nicholas Lesse praised her as one “at whose handes . . . the common people hath received already many comfortable & spiritual consolations, instructions, and teachings” (A5v-A6r).

The Folger library copy provides evidence of several readers who presumably received such “consolations, instructions, and teachings” from this Latimer-Suffolk collaborative volume. The volume was signed by Barbara Golde who placed her name in a prominent spot on the title page. Sadly there are no other records of Golde’s book ownership in the ESTC. The volume is also signed by R. Brown and R. Barker. There are a few marginal markings but it is impossible to determine who made them. Manuscript and printed waste (from 1548) were used as guards when the book was bound.


Hugh Latimer, The First Sermon of Master Hugh Latimer. John Day, 1549. STC 15270.5.

Nicholas Lesse, trans. A Very Fruitful and Godly Exposition upon the Fifteenth Psalm. John Day, 1548. STC 10429.

“Latimer, Hugh (c. 1485–1555).” by Susan Wabuda. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  September 23, 2004. Oxford University Press, Date of access 5 May. 2019.

Book Source: Folger Library, STC 15270.5; bound with 15274. Photos by Micheline White with permission from the Folger Library.



Hester Chapone, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (1777)



by Eileen A. Horansky

The Lewis Walpole Library (LWL) copy of Hester Chapone’s Miscellanies in Prose and Verse (LWL 53 C365 775c) features unique evidence of book ownership and reading practices in the late eighteenth century. Hester Chapone was known as an author of conduct books, a genre that grew increasingly popular as instructional material for the edification of young women in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Following the death of her husband in 1760, Chapone had turned to writing to support herself. With the encouragement of her friend and fellow Bluestocking Elizabeth Montague, as Rhoda Zuk writes in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Chapone went on to publish Letters on the Improvement of the Mind in 1773, a series of letters to her niece on the subject of education, followed by Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, a collection of essays and other writings, in 1775.

The LWL copy is the third edition of Miscellanies, published with the newly appended A Letter to a New-Married Lady in 1777. It is inscribed “Catherine Tollet, her book, bought with her own money” on the front free endpaper. This brief inscription offers few clues as to the identity of Catherine Tollet. My preliminary research uncovered a woman named Catherine Craddock who married Charles Tollet of Betley Hall in Staffordshire around 1760, had two children (a son, Charles, and a daughter, Catherine, both of whom died young), and died around 1808. However, with no evidence other than a common name linking the Catherine Tollet of Betley Hall to the woman who inscribed this book, the actual identity of Catherine Tollet is merely speculation. Regardless of her identity, the Catherine who owned this book was clearly in possession of some financial means, whether through generational wealth or her own industry, and thus had some agency in her reading choices and the books she could acquire.

The LWL copy of Miscellanies in Prose and Verse also contains unique physical evidence of how the text was read. Besides Catherine Tollet’s inscription, there is evidence of the use of pins as markers throughout the text itself. Although the original pins are not present, the holes created by the pins are still quite distinct. The use of pins as aids in the reading, editing, and even repairing of books and manuscripts is a well-documented practice throughout the early modern period.

Although Chapone was known for her (at the time) unconventional attitudes towards the education of women and female relationships, the ownership marks and other evidence present in this volume provide interesting and important context for how female readers interacted with books in the late eighteenth century.


Hester Chapone, Miscellanies in prose and verse (1777). Held at Yale University, Lewis Walpole Library.

“Chapone [née Mulso], Hester (1727–1801),” by Rhoda Zuk, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,

A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume XI: Audley, Keele and Trentham. Edited by Nigel J. Trigham,  Boydell and Brewer, 2013.

Photos by Eileen A. Horansky, reproduced with permission.