Caryl, An Exposition upon Chapters of the Book of Job (1653)

Today’s book is a 1653 edition of minister Joseph Caryl’s exposition on chapters of the book of Job and contains several inscriptions of colonial American owners from the late eighteenth to early nineteenth century.

Caryl was a Puritan minister later removed from his post by the Church of England during the Restoration. Before his ejection, he had several sermons published in the 1640s. His work on the Book of Job began in 1643. The multi-decade “exposition with practical observations” on the Old Testament book eventually came to encompass all forty-two of its chapters. This particular copy concentrates on the fifteenth through the seventeenth chapters.

Job is a prosperous, pious Biblical figure whose wealth, children, servants, and health are obliterated after Satan suggests to God that he would not be so devout in the face of extreme adversity. At first Job accepts his suffering and continues to praise God, but as he continues to suffer with no change in circumstance, he becomes angry and questions him. Eventually, he acknowledges that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and declares his repentance, whereupon his prosperity is restored.

The front flyleaf contains four inscriptions. The one that first draws the eye is Joseph Emerson’s acquisition note in the center of the page: “bought by J. Emerson of the Rev.d Mr. Chandler of Rowley Octo. 2. 1747.” The bookseller identifies Emerson (1724-1775) as a minister in the town of Groton, Massachusetts, later renamed Pepperell. He married Abigail Hay and had six children with her, and was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s great-uncle. The Community Church of Pepperell asserts that he “delivered the prayer on Cambridge Common before the combined militias marched to Breed’s Hill, now called Bunker Hill, in Charlestown” [1]. He contracted dysentery at the onset of the Revolutionary War and died in late October of 1775. His signature, dated 1747, also appears on the upper part of the flyleaf as well as the title page.

Reverend James Chandler (1706-1789), from whom Emerson purchased the book, was the minister of the first church in Georgetown, Massachusetts [2]. One wonders whether Chandler could have been a mentor to the young Emerson, in his early twenties when he purchased the book from Chandler. Additionally, there are two expunged inscriptions on the page. The uppermost one appears to read “Tho.s E. Christian & Jo[…?].” The one beneath Emerson’s signature is too obliterated to read. The inscriptions are circled with three numeral 5s and an apparent monogram on the lower portion of the page.

Another flyleaf contains three more inscriptions: “Sam.ll Chase Book . . .”; “Anna Chase Book Chase”; and “Samuel Chase / Boston / 1826.” The bookseller identifies these owners as Samuel Chase, Sr. (1768-1808), his wife Anna Longley Chase (1776-1866), and Samuel Chase, Jr. (1801-1876). The Chases were also from the Pepperell area and presumably acquired the book there.

Less knowable is how the book found its way to the colonies, whether Abigail Emerson and Mary Hale Chandler (who did not sign the book) used it alongside their husbands, and what significance the story of a Job—a man suffering for his faith—would have had in the lives of the Chandlers, Emersons, and Chases.

Source: Book offered for sale by eBay seller mantosilver in April 2022. Images used with permission.

[1] “Commemorating 100 Years: Historical Moment: Our First Pastor.” Community Church of Pepperell (April 14, 2019).

[2] Anthony Mitchell Sammarco. Georgetown (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2002), 31.

William Watt, The Principles of Christian Religion Explained (1731)

First published in 1699, the Principles of the Christian Religion Explained by William Wake (1657-1737), Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716, would become one of the most popular catechistical works of the period. About twenty editions were published through the eighteenth century, including in French translation, and editions continued to appear into the early decades of the nineteenth century. As the title-page inscription on this copy indicates, Catharine Clarke bought this fifth edition (1731) from Daniel Shatford on April 25, 1743, for four shillings and six pence. The evidence of date, price, and source of purchase usefully fills out the scene of acquisition. The primary missing component is place: but other inscriptions in the book suggest that Catharine Clarke and Daniel Shatford both lived in Colonial America and that the likely site for this transaction was New York City.

An inscription on the recto of the first free endpaper reads: “Lemuel Bingham His Book Novm.–11–1819 Bought by me in Boston about four years ago” followed by “4/6” or 4 shillings and six pence: Bingham evidently paid the same price for the book that Clarke had paid more than seventy years earlier. The “Boston” here is Boston, Massachusetts, not Boston, Lincolnshire: Lemuel Bingham (1795-1885) was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A printer by trade, he remained in Massachusetts until 1820, when he moved to North Carolina to work as a newspaper editor; he would remain there until his death, eventually establishing newspapers in several towns in the state.[1]

A dated inscription by a different owner on the opening page of Watt’s dedication (A2r), “EC Edw Carnean’s 1805,” aligns with a Massachusetts provenance: an Edward Carnean was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1775.[2]

Other early inscriptions on the second free endpaper feature names too common to be identifiable: “john burk is Book god giv em grace var in to Lo[ok]” (recto) and “Joseph Johnson His Book” (verso).

But the man from whom Catharine Clarke purchased the book is identifiable: Daniel Shatford was a merchant in New York City who appears in many mid-eighteenth-century records, including a legal case involving a “free Molatto woman” employed by Shatford who lived in the attic of his house and who committed suicide while incarcerated on suspicion of murdering her infant son.[3] Described in sources as a merchant, Shatford seems not to have been involved in the book trade: an account in the Rothschild archive in The National Archives details his receipt of a shipment of quicksilver, indigo, wood and turpentine.[4] Either he handled some books on the side as a component of his mercantile activities, or he sold the book to Catharine Clarke simply as a private owner selling a book to somebody he knew.

Catharine Clarke unfortunately is not yet identifiable: archival records reveal women of that name born in the first quarter of the eighteenth century in Boston and New York, as well as in smaller towns in Massachusetts. But here is always the hope that other books signed by her will show up and help narrow down the possible identifications.

Lemuel Bingham, likely the last in the chain of owners who left inscriptions in this book, turned the leaf after recording his ownership and added an admonition to book borrowers: “The pressent owner of this Book requests all those who may borrow it to read it through and then be carefull to return it Imediatly LB.” After a pause he continued, evidently feeling this request on its own insufficient to convey the strength of his opinions on the subject of unreturned books: “N.B. as the subscriber has lost many books, by lending them and not have them returned leads him to give this admonition hoping it may be attended to strictly Novm–11–1819 Lemuel Bingham.”

That the book was purchased at an estate auction in Massachusetts suggests, alas, that it may have slipped from Lemuel’s hands before he left (permanently) for North Carolina the year after he acquired it. The copy remains in its original plain coarse-grained leather binding, possibly sheep rather than calf, with old leather repairs to the spine, well used and a testament to the long-running popularity of Watt’s work.

Source: Book in private collection. All photos reproduced with permission.

[1] Dictionary of North Carolina online:

[2] The transcription of this record in the Ancestry Library database reads “Carmean” but the original document attached to the record reads “Carnean.” The inscription in this copy of Watt could read more conventionally as “Carman” rather than “Carnean,” but the spacing of the strokes suggests “ne” rather than “m.”

[3] See Max Speare, “Slavery, Surveillance, and Carceral Culture in Early New York City” (PhD diss. University of California, Irvine, 2022) 148-52. For other records that mention Shatford, including his marriage in 1735, see

[4] The National Archives (TNA):

Ann Yearsley, The Royal Captives (1795)

Royal Captives binding

The eighteenth-century writer Ann Yearsley (1753-1806) is mainly known for her poetry, but she also took advantage of a popular trend and wrote a four-volume Gothic novel.  Gothics were all the rage at the time (think Jane Austen’s spoof in Northanger Abbey, 1817).

Ann Yearsley by Wilson Lowry, after unknown artist. Line engraving, 1787. NPG D8852.
@ National Portrait Gallery, London

Yearsley was a complex woman; trained by her mother to be a milkwoman, but also to read and write, she was quite literate, and her volumes of poetry were taken up by Bluestocking writer Hannah More and members of the aristocracy.  After some disagreement, Yearsley separated from More but went on to a successful literary career that included a play performed in her hometown of Bristol, more poems, and this novel, The Royal Captives.  The subtitle promises “A Fragment of Secret History Copied from an Old Manuscript.”  In fact, the plot is an adaptation of a story from seventeenth-century French history about the man in the iron mask, which has thrilled audiences for a long time.

Royal Captives tp

No wonder such a book would be popular.  The copy seen here, held by The Second Shelf in London, is an American edition, published in Philadelphia in the same year that the London edition came out.  It prints four volumes in two, and both volumes contain the names of various owners including “Ann Brewster,” “Eunice,” “Katherine,” and “James.”

Royal Captive sigs.
RC Dimon sig v.1

The most prominent owner, who wrote her name numerous times in both volumes is Sally Dimon.  In the first volume she pens “Sally Dimon. — Fairfield” and beneath that “Sally Dimon read this Book the 20 of [July] 18002.”  

In the second volume, we can barely see another note in faded ink: “Miss Sally Dimons Book Presented by her Brother/ Fairfield March 8, 1799.”

RC Dimon sig v.2

Sally may well have been a descendant of the Dimon family who settled Fairfield, Connecticut in the seventeenth century.  In any case, we assume she enjoyed The Royal Captives, in which she would have found not only an exciting plot but also sympathy for women and the lower classes.

Source: book offered for sale by The Second Shelf, 9/2020. Images reproduced with permission.