BYROM, John. The Universal English Short-Hand; or, the Way of Writing English in the most easy, concise, regular, and beautiful manner, applicable to any other language, but particularly adjusted to our own. Manchester, Joseph Harrop, 1767.
8vo. Contemporary calf, pp. , ix, -92, 13 engraved plates (one in pagination), scratching and wear to binding, but cords holding firm, lamp oil spotting to beginning and end; provenance: contemporary engraved armorial bookplate Ben. Slade inside front cover; slightly later Dublin bookdealer's label.
First edition of Byrom's popular system of shorthand, which had been in use for a number of years by many prominent figures, including the Wesleys, Horace Walpole, and others. In 1723 at Cambridge young Byrom, from a Manchester family of merchants, developed his own system of shorthand, because he was dissatisfied with the existing ones. 'He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in March 1724, and contributed two papers on the subject of shorthand to its Philosophical Transactions ... For a number of years he spent much time in London, Cambridge, and Oxford, teaching pupils the art of shorthand. They paid 5 guineas, and were sworn to secrecy, becoming members of what Byrom, again perhaps facetiously, called his Societas Tachygraphica (‘Speedwriting Society’). He built up a wide range of acquaintances in the course of promoting his system, until the death of his elder brother on 12 May 1740 put him in possession of the family property and relieved him of the need to teach it. He remained closely associated with it, however: he had printed new Proposals in 1739, and an act of parliament, passed on 5 May 1742, gave him the sole rights to the system for twenty-one years. It was finally made available to all by being published in its entirety in 1767 as The Universal English Short-Hand.