Thursday, September 03, 2009

John Titford , Super Sleuth On The Bookplate Trail

Click On Image to Enlarge Brain North Lee wrote an excellent book about 18th century name labels , Early Printed Book Labels. That is where I looked first when this very distinctive name label arrived. No bells started to ring so I went to a second reference by Elizabeth Carroll Reilly called Colonial American Printer's Ornaments & Illustrations . It also did not contain the answer I was looking for. Is the Edward Bass , Jun. plate American or English?
Google was not much help either so I sent an Email to John Titford asking if the designation Jun. was used frequently in 18th century England or was it primarily used in America.
John's response was precisely what I was looking for and it is reproduced below.
Thank you John for your assistance.

Fulham Scan Mentioned Below -Click on Image to Enlarge

Dear Lew ,

Thanks for the challenge!

Certainly in recent times the use of "Jr" or "Jun" or "Lewis Jaffe III" and such has been almost entirely an American habit, rarely seen in Britain.

Back in the eighteenth century the Brits were fonder of using "Jun" than they are now - partly at times because of the habit of using the paternal grandfather as godfather for a first-born male child, and giving the child his name in honour, so that many male first cousins would have the same Christian name as their grandfather. Some kind of separation was called for. Usually "Senr" and "Jun" distinguished between father and son, but not always.

But the real giveaway on your fine label, surely, is the spelling of "HONOR" - the kind of spelling (the Brits use the French version "HONOUR") advocated by the influential Mr Webster, if I'm not mistaken? This must surely make it an American label?

So who was Edward Bass, Jun? I can give you two scenarios, of which the second is much more likely.

1. "Virginia wills and administrations 1632-1800" by C Torrance (1930) includes a reference to an Edward Bass of Amelia County, who left a will in 1795.

The printed census returns for Virginia, 1790 (etc), include:

Amelia County. 1782: Edward Bass. Head of Household. Three whites, 40 blacks; 1785: One white soul; eleven dwellings; four other buildings.
Chesterfield County 1783. Edward Bass. 6 whites, 6 blacks.

2. Here is a more likely candidate:

In "A list of emigrant ministers to America 1690-1811" by Gerald Fothergill (1904) we find:
Bass,Edward.New England June 10th,1752.Money Book,44-33 (from the records of the Bishop of Lindon;meaning?)First Bishop of Massachusetts;born Dorchester,November 23,1726;died September10,1803(Drake)

This leads us to an index to the 1800 census for Massachusetts, edited by E P Bentley (1978), where we read:
Bass, Edward Jr. Essex. 304.
Bass, Edward, R.R. (`Right Reverend'?), Bishop, Essex 304.
("304" refers to the page number of the schedule).

So what do you think? It's quite likely, I'd say, that this label belonged to Edward Bass, junior, son of Edward Bass, Bishop of Massachusetts. What more likely than a Bishop's son to have a collection of books that needed labelling?

Because of Bishop Edward's eminence, there are quite a few references to him in "The Fulham Papers in the Lambeth Palace Library; American colonial section calendar and indexes' by W W Manross (1965). Most are of little use, but see attached for one interesting reference.
( See Fulham Scan Above)
This is a special mid-week posting. See you all on Sunday.

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