(above) The art of stenographie is the direct ancestor of almost all of the manuals that followed it. Willis correctly described it as "the first book of Spelling Characterie [i.e., alphabet-based shorthand] that ever was set forth." Some of his forms for individual letters remained in use for a long time. Even more importantly, he devised a system of representing intermediate vowels through the placement of the subsequent consonant upon or near the initial consonant.
(top right and middle) Jeremiah Rich's shorthand manual was updated in 1694 by Nathaniell Stringer. Stringer was one of several of Rich’s pupils who sought to perpetuate Rich’s enormously popular system after his death. Since by the late seventeenth century the general principles of alphabetic shorthand were widely understood, it was not uncommon to produce entirely engraved condensations such as this one.
(right, middle) Almost all systems were designed to appeal to sermon note-takers. Thomas Shelton's system includes formulaic phrases found in most sermons.
(bottom right) Metcalfe’s system was similar to Thomas Shelton’s and Jeremiah Rich’s. Unlike them, however, he boldly claimed that it could be learned without a teacher. It was widely used and apparently was popular in colonial Massachusetts, where an early version was used by the Reverend Samuel Parris to take depositions in the Salem witch trials. Remarkably, an edition of Metcalfe published in 1721 claimed to be the fifty-fifth edition.