Thursday 28 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016: X is for Making Your Mark
This isn't a post with a strange word you never heard of that starts with 'X'.  Nor is it a post about a word which just happens to have an 'x' in it somewhere.

'X' was often quite a big part of some people's lives.  Nowadays, illiteracy is fodder for newspapers who want a screaming headline or two - but a couple of hundred years ago, there was not nearly as much stigma about not being able to read and write.  If you could, then you were regarded with some awe.  I'm sure you have come across signatures on marriage certificates (for instance), where you almost wish they had signed with an 'X' instead.

But the signatures of the bride and groom were not originally required.  Everybody in the parish expected the parish clerk to be able to read and write, and therefore he would enter the names and dates.  And, of course, he would spell things the way he thought they should be spelt.  Like Winyfort for Winifred.  I wonder if she would have made an 'X' at the time of her marriage (1676) if it had been required?

And sometimes, icons were used instead of the 'X'.  This is known as an autograph...

© 2016 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. A good choice for the tricky letter X. In the census of 1861, my great grandmother Maria Rawcliffe's name was spelt as "Mariagh" - no doubt the enumerator's idea of her name. Her parents both made their mark on their marriage certificate.

    Family History Fun

    1. 'Mariagh' - good grief! I have never met that one before! My favourite is 'Susaner'. She was baptised in Devon. Can't you just HEAR the accent? ha ha

  2. Great X word Ros!! I have a few that signed with an X, but never with an icon, I hadn't heard of that before. That is so neat! My brother Mike signed everything with an M.... not because he couldn't read and write, he was just lazy hahaha.

    1. I used to do cross-stitch, and my 'autograph' at the bottom of my work was my initials on top of each other.



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