The signatures of early Friends

The irrepressible George Fox
Recently I came upon number of reproductions of early Friends’ signatures, which I uploaded to Quakerpedia yesterday.

Earlier this month Seth of Ohio YM uploaded two signatures of later Friends (including John Wilbur’s), and it struck me that seeing someone’s signature often gives you a tiny visual hint at their personality — which is especially nice when there are no portraits of the person available. Fox’s initials (above) and writing, for example, seem like the man: bold, creative, a little freewheeling. Barclay’s signature by contrast looks firmer and more logical. There are also James Nayler, William Penn, Margaret Fell, Howgill, Burrough and others at the bold link above.

Where did I get these? While reading about Quaker business method, I came upon an interesting quote from an epistle sent out in 1659 by a meeting of Friends at Skipton. The reference was to a book called Letters, &c., of early Friends, edited by Abram Rawlinson Barclay and published in 1841. I wanted to see the whole epistle, and was able to locate a copy. It contains hundreds of letters, and interspersed in a few places are the above signatures, which I scanned.

In other news, it looks like I will be unable to attend Canadian Yearly Meeting as planned, so I expect to be attending New England YM instead.

5 Responses to “The signatures of early Friends”


  1. 1 Cat Chapin-Bishop Aug 1st, 2007

    NEYM? How great for me! Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to meet in person at last–though I suppose finding one another will be the trick.

    Hope to get to know you a bit better later this week!

  2. 2 Zach Aug 3rd, 2007

    Likewise, Cat. I’ll probably be wearing T shirts with grey and white horizontal stripes most of the time, and glasses with thick brown frames.

  3. 3 Pam Aug 7th, 2007

    Zach - is that your modern quaker plain uniform or something? sounds fun, but I like color too much!

  4. 4 Zach Aug 8th, 2007

    No, just a shirt I really like, so much that I own several “copies.” (Is that the word?)

  1. 1 Possible nontheist Friends interest group at New England YM at The Seed Lifting Up Pingback on Aug 6th, 2007
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