Gething, Richard (DNB00)

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GETHING, RICHARD (1585?–1652?), calligrapher, a native of Herefordshire, and a scholar of John Davies [q. v.], the famous writing-master of Hereford, was thought to surpass his master in every branch of his art. Coming to London, he started in business at the ‘Hand and Pen’ in Fetter Lane. In 1616 he published a copy-book of various hands in twenty-six plates, oblong 4to, which are very well executed. In 1645 he brought out his ‘Chirographia,’ consisting of thirty-seven plates engraved by Goddart. In it Gething says ‘he has exactly traced and followed certain pieces, both in character and language, of the ablest calligraphotechnists and Italian masters that ever wrote, with certain pieces of cursory hands, not heretofore extant, newly come in use.’ Another edition of the ‘Chirographia,’ probably published after his death, is entitled ‘Gething Redivivus, or the Pen's Master-Piece. Being the last work of that eminent and accomplished master in this art, containing exemplars of all curious hands written,’ London, 1664, oblong 8vo. Prefixed is his portrait engraved by J. Chantry. In 1652 he published ‘Calligraphotechnia, or the art of faire writing set forth and newly enlarged.’ It contains thirty-six folio plates, and his portrait inscribed ‘Richardus Gethinge, Herefordiensis, æt. 32.’ This work is probably an enlargement of his first book, as some of the plates are dated 1615 and 1616. Moreover there is a dedication to his ‘very good master, Sir Francis Bacon, knight,’ afterwards the lord chancellor.

Massey considers that ‘on account of his early productions from the rolling press, he may stand in comparison with Bales, Davies, and Billingsley, those heads and fathers, as I may call them, of our English calligraphic tribe;’ and Fuller, speaking of Davies and Gething, quaintly remarks: ‘Sure I am, when two such Transcendant Pen-Masters shall again come to be born in the same shire, they may even serve fairly to engross the Will and Testament of the expiring Universe.’

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 261; Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 5th edit. iii. 194; Massey's Origin and Progress of Letters, p. 80; Works of John Davies, ed. Grosart, i. xiii.]

T. C.