Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: X is for … Signatures

After thinking about what to do for the letter X for weeks, I still hadn’t come up with anything. So the fact that this post has even happened is a tribute to Wendy who commented on the Gould Genealogy Facebook page for the Family History Through the Alphabet, the letter X, and gave me the idea for this post.

X is for … Signatures

Actually technically this post is about the lack of signature, as in those that were illiterate and used X for a signature (ie. X is the mark of _________ ) was the actual wording that was used on certificates.After getting the idea, it made me re-look at all the certificates I have to see how many signed, and how many put ‘X’ as their mark. Interestingly most of the certificates I have show that they were literate, or at least enough to sign their own signature. However amongst them, there are a some that do have X as their mark and I must say I was surprised at who.

So here’s just a few of the examples of signatures using the letter X from my collection:

birth certificate of Mary Ann Kemp 1846
the 7th column from the left lists the signature, description and residence of the informant
“The mark of X Thomas Kemp, father, Lamorran”

birth certificate of Samuel Samson Trewartha 1850
8th column along lists the signature, description and residence of information
“X The mark of Charlotte Trewartha. Mother, 5 Fore Street, Redruth”

marriage certificate of George Phillips and Mary Ann Kemp, 1864
note the signatures in the bottom lefthand corner
“This Marriage was solemnized between us: George Phillips, Mary Ann Kemp X her mark”

So there’s a few of my X for signatures. Do you have many X signatures in your collection of records?

6 Responses to “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: X is for … Signatures”

  1. Great post, Alona! I’ve got a good few Xs in mine. Things were so different in those days, with many people not having the chance to learn to write.

    I’ve heard that some people learned to write their signatures but not much else, as you say.

    And some could read but not write.

  2. Catherine says:

    Fascinating post… Must look more closely at mine. I’ve notice a few but not really paid much attention.
    Thanks Alona 🙂 …

  3. Pauleen says:

    great idea Alona…I think the majority of us would have a collection:-) Some seemed to have learned the basics along with their children.

  4. Sharon says:

    Well Done Alona. Love the lateral thinking.

    Along a similar line of thought, my grandmother always finished letters with xxx and I nearly made this my “X” post but changed my mind 🙂

  5. Anne says:

    Hi Alona – I borrowed your idea for my post in the 2014 A to Z blogging challenge. I found it very interesting looking back at the certificates. Thank you for the inspiration

    • Alona says:

      Awesome Anne! The X for signatures was one of my fav letters of the Alphabet Challenge as it made me relook through all my certificates and realise just how many couldn’t actually write. It was a real eye-opener.

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