Metcalfe, Theophilus (DNB00)

METCALFE, THEOPHILUS (fl. 1649), stenographer, was a professional writer and teacher of shorthand, who in 1645 resided in St. Katherine's Court, near the Tower of London. He published a stenographic system based almost entirely on the lines of Thomas Shelton's 'Tachygraphy.' The first edition of his work was entitled 'Radio-Stenography, or Short Writing' and is supposed to have been published in 1635. A so-called sixth edition appeared at London in 1645, 12mo. It was followed in 1649 by 'A Schoolmaster to Radio-Stenography, explaining all the Rules of the said Art, by way of Dialogue betwixt Master and Scholler, fitted to the weakest capacities that are desirous to learne this Art.' Many editions of the system appeared under the title of 'Short Writing: the most easie, exact, lineall, and speedy Method that hath ever yet been obtained or taught by any in this Kingdome.' On the title-page of the nineteenth edition (1679) it is asserted that 'a young man, that lately lived at Cornhill, learned so well by this book that he wrote out all the Bible in this character.' The statement is repeated on the title-page of the fifty-fifth edition, printed for Edmund Parker at the Bible and Crown in Lombard Street about 1756. In reality these editions, as they are called, were for the most part only small numbers of copies taken from the same plates at different times, the dates being as often altered as the title. These plates were engraved by Frederick Henry Van Hove of Haarlem (Shorthand, i. 81, 82). A copy of the Bible written in Metcalfe's system by Dr. William Holder [q. v.], and completed in 1668, is preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 30385). Dr. Isaac Watts was also a writer of this system.

A portrait of Metcalfe is prefixed to the so-called sixth edition of his 'Radio-Stenography,' published in 1645.

[Anderson's Hist. of Shorthand, p. 114; Gibson's Bibliography of Shorthand, pp. 12, 96, 129; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 5th edit. iii. 194; Journalist, 25 March 1887, p. 381; Levy's Hist. of Shorthand, p. 30; Lewis's Hist. of Shorthand, pp. 65–9; Rockwell's Literature of Shorthand, 2nd edit. p. 109; Shorthand, i. 50, ii. 10, 55.]

T. C.