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John Byrom

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John Byrom or John Byrom of Kersal or John Byrom of Manchester FRS (29 February 1692 – 26 September 1763) was an English poet and inventor of a revolutionary system of shorthand. He is also remembered as the writer of the lyrics of Anglican hymn 'Christians Awake, salute the happy morn.'

Byrom invented a system of shorthand, and having perfected this, he returned to England in 1716. Some of the inhabitants of Manchester tried to persuade him to set up a medical practice in the town, but he decided that his abilities were insufficient to pursue a medical career and resolved to teach his shorthand system instead. Shortly after coming into his family inheritance in 1740, Byrom patented his "New Universal Shorthand". This system of shorthand was taught officially at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities and was used by the clerk in the House of Lords.

On 16 June 1742, His Majesty George II [1] secured to John Byrom, M.A., the sole right of publishing for a certain term of years (21) the art and method of shorthand invented by him.

His system of shorthand was posthumously published as "The Universal English Shorthand" which, although superseded in the nineteenth Century, marked a significant development in the history of shorthand. It was used by John (1703–1791) [2] and Charles Wesley (1707–1788) [3], founders of Methodism, who recorded their self-examinations in coded diaries.


His papers, though preserved for some time after his death, were mysteriously destroyed in the nineteenth century.

More information on the Wikipedia page [4]

A book review of Joy Hancon's The Byrom Collection can be found here [5]

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