Manual on Shorthand

Scope and Content

Manual on shorthand by James Weston. The volume, entitled Stenography, or shorthand is an art, contains detailed instructions on how to learn shorthand. It includes extensive vocabulary and syntax, as well as examples and practices for the reader. Written in 1724, the manuscript predates Weston's printed edition of 1727.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Weston (?1688-?1748) was born in Edinburgh, but by 1722 he had established a reputation as a 'professor' of stenography in London. He courted publicity and promoted his system of shorthand, which relied on a series of arbitrary symbols, in Stenography compleated: or the art of short-hand brought to perfection; being the most easy, exact, speedy, and legible method extant (London: printed for the author, 1727).

Source: Timothy Underhill, 'Weston, James (1688?-1748?)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press --

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Mrs Enriqueta Augustina Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, from John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910), in July 1892.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, with reference to:

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 52).

Custodial History

The manuscript was formerly part of the Spencer Library at Althorp, Northamptonshire, which was largely assembled by George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834); then by descent to John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer (1835-1910).

Related Material

The JRUL also holds James Henry Lewis's Guide to Shorthand (English MS 468,), and English MS 936, a shorthand New Testament (English MS 936,).