The Holy Bible (1642)

Another Bible is featured today, containing the wonderful calligraphic signature of Ann Lightfoot. This edition was printed by the shop of Robert Barker, who issued the so-called ‘Wicked Bible’ in 1631 in which the word “not” was omitted from the Commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Barker and his co-printer Martin Lucas were subsequently each fined the then enormous sum of £300 for the sacrilege and Barker died in a debtors’ prison four years later [1].

In this copy, the recto of the leaf before the title page is boldly signed “Ann Lightfoot. 1769” in elaborate calligraphic script.

Though Ann’s signature brims with personality, it is not possible to definitively identify her, absent any additional information. A candidate may be Ann Lightfoot (1745–1807), who is buried in Berks County, Pennsylvania. An inscription on the first flyleaf verso opposite her signature, “T.H. Judson”, is dated 1882. Judson’s bookplate is also affixed to the front pastedown. Cursory research shows that T.H. Judson was Physical Science Postmaster at Merton College, Oxford, elected in 1875.

The paneled binding may provide some clues to Ann’s status, as it appears to be contemporary and is carefully tooled, suggesting that some money was expended in its commission.

Source: Book offered for sale by Journobooks in April 2022. Images used with permission.


[1] “Robert Barker, Printer to Queen Elizabeth I.” Datchet History. Accessed 30 April 2022.


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