John Spottiswoode, The History of the Church of Scotland (1655)

John Spottiswoode’s The History of the Church of Scotland, subtitled Beginning the Year of Our Lord 203, and Continued to the End of the Reign of King James the VI, was first published in 1655 and now survives in numerous copies. Spottiswoode was an archbishop in Scotland, a theologian, and an historian. He originally wrote the history at the request of James VI and I, though it was not published until sixteen years after Spottiswoode’s death. In 1633, he crowned Charles I in Edinburgh, but his good standing with the monarch was not to last:

He was appointed Chancellor of Scotland by King Charles I (1635), but Spottiswoode found himself caught between a monarch intent on introducing an unpopular prayer book, which resulted in riots in St. Giles Kirk in Edinburgh, and the people. Thus in 1638, while the people signed the National Covenant, the King dismissed Spottiswoode from the Chancellorship for having failed to enforce the Episcopacy, yet the General Assembly in Glasgow reintroduced Presbyterianism, deposing him as Archbishop and excommunicated him. (Gazetteer for Scotland)

A copy of the first edition featuring two early women’s ownership inscriptions was offered for sale by Aardvark Books, ABAA in February 2021.

The eyecatchingly distinctive name of Easter Bird appears on a rear flyleaf, followed by the name of Leonard Stanley in a similar hand and the year 1802. There are several eighteenth-century documents featuring individuals with this name, so in spite of its unusualness–or at the very least, its uncommon spelling (Easter may be a version of Ester or Esther)–this particular Easter Bird has not been identified. The pound sign and numerals to the right of the names, which appear contemporary to the writing, at least seem to narrow Easter to the United Kingdom.

Beneath pen trials is another woman’s inscription, Elizabeth Redman. Like Easter’s inscription, it appears to date from the late eighteenth century or early nineteenth century. The unread lines above Easter’s inscription appear to be in an earlier hand.

Though the book has since sold, the bookseller’s original description mentions several four-leaf clovers laid into the book. These enclosures, along with the markings described above, shows that the book was the site of much activity, not all of it related to reading! The book’s marbled calf binding appears to date from around the time of the women’s signatures.

Source: Book offered for sale by Aardvark Books 2/5/2021; since sold. Images used with permission.

Further Reading
“Archbishop John Spottiswoode: 1565-1639″ Gazetteer for Scotland.

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