Timothy Matlack: Master Penman of the Declaration of Independence

Among many distinctions, Timothy Matlack (1736 to 1829) penned the original Declaration of Independence which is at the National Archives in Washington, DC. He was a Master Penman and was hired to do deeds, contracts and other legal and historical documents in what could be described as an English Roundhand script. He accomplished this with a feather quill pen. Type fonts that are similar are Copperplate and American Scribe. (See www.oldfonts.com for the excellent computer version of American Scribe)

He was also given the honor of reading the Declaration from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and overseeing the letterpress printing of the Declaration so that copies could be sent to all of the colonies. He was a very active Quaker and opposed slavery. Congress commissioned the artist Charles Wilson Peale to paint Timothy Matlack’s portrait in 1790. This portrait is shown below as it is in the public domain.

My grandmother, Kathryn Burris Bradley’s genealogy book begins with the Matlack family. The first Matlack was William who emigrated from Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire, England aboard the ship “Kent” in 1677 which landed in Burlington, New Jersey. Our family connection is described at www.BradleyHistory.com

Click on Photos to Enlarge

Timothy_Matlack TimothyMatlack

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