The Book of Common Prayer (1720)

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you will know that we frequently find women’s inscriptions in the Book of Common Prayer, like bibles a book that people expected to last and be passed down the generation. Books of Common Prayer and Bibles could be used, as we have seen before, as family archives. While clean-looking books may have more visual appeal, from a historical and cultural perspective messy books like this one can be full of interesting information.

This book prominently displays some male signatures, including by William Davison, who not only claimed the book as his, but also seems to be the person who wrote down a family history.

Three different owners, two of whom called William Davison, are featured in inscriptions with a short poem. The top two for James and William appear to be in the same hand; the bottom inscription, by another William Davison, seems to be in a much later hand.

On the following page, inscriptions for William and James are repeated; George Davison has added his; initials appear at the bottom, while a woman named Margaret wrote her name upside down at the top.

Family history made its way onto the page with the frontispiece, where the birth of William Davison is recorded.

A fuller page with familial dates includes information on William and Margaret, both of whom lived to a ripe old age and into the nineteenth century. Mary Davison, daughter of Robert and Margaret Davison, also inscribed her name, claiming the book as hers: “her Book, given her in Memerory [sic] of her Grand Mother Margaret Davison August 17th 1827.” The memorial gift was made less than a month after the dead of Margaret.

Source: Book seen at the bookmarket in Deventer, August 4, 2019, offered for sale by Antiquariaat de Salamander. Photos by Martine van Elk, taken and reproduced with permission.


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