Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Arkisden, Thomas

ARKISDEN, THOMAS (fl. 1633), stenographer, was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (B.A. 1629-30; M.A. 1633). While at the university he invented a shorthand alphabet, which has acquired a peculiar interest in consequence of its similarity to other early systems of stenography published somewhat later, especially to those of William Cartwright and his nephew, Jeremiah Rich, the latter of whom lays claim in his 'Art's Rarity' (1654) to absolute originality. Edward Howes, writing from the Inner Temple 23 Nov. 1632 to John Winthrop, jun., 'at the Matachussetts in New England,' says: 'As for my vsuall characters, they are that where-with I conceiue you have bin formerly acquainted, vizt, Mr. Arkisdens, whoe hath sent you a letter here inclosed in John Samfords. I thought good to send you his character, for feare you should haue forgotten it; 'and he adds that 'the characters are approued of in Cambridge to be the best yet invented, and they are not yet printed nor comon.' The alphabet is given in the 'Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society' (4th ser. vi. 481). Some correspondence with regard to it between Mr. J. E. Bailey and Mr. E. Pocknell appeared in the 'Athenæum' in September 1880.

[Collections of the Massachusetts Hist. Soc.; MS. Addit. 5885 f. 84 b Pocknell's Legible Shorthand (1881), 75-77.]

T. C.