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In the Galleries: John Speed’s Postdeluvian Genealogy from the First Edition of the King James Bible

By Io Montecillo

Historian John Speed (1542–1629) worked with Hebrew scholar Hugh Broughton to create a 36-page genealogy to accompany the first printing of the King James Bible. The genealogy traced “euery family and tribe with the line of Our Sauior Jesus Christ obserued from Adam to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Speed’s genealogy (1611) portrays the then-popular view that Noah’s sons went on to populate specific regions of the world: Shem to Asia, Japheth to Europe, and Ham to Africa. In the Americas, pro-slavery advocates used the “curse of Ham” to justify the enslavement of Africans and their descendants.

Speed’s genealogy and other manuscripts related to the King James Bible are on view in the exhibition The King James Bible: Its History and Influence through July 29.


Please click on the thumbnails below to view full-size images.



Greg Boffo


I am the proud owner of a 1st edition 1613 Black Letter quarto edition of the King James Bible, and have a rather unusual signature of John Speed along side the initials J S on the title page of the genealogies, with a hand written notation which reads,
v. Pref. to the (in the English ‘sigla’ abbreviation) Works of Mr Hugh Broughton
I do not purport this to be John Speed’s signature necessarily, but the use of a sigla abbreviation in a hand written pencilled notation of such importance attached to a signature type heading, in a first edition copy warrants a look at.
If you are interested in contacting me, please feel free.
I am from Brisbane Australia and have had the Bible for only 3 years.
With Regards,

Galilee Mills

This is nice to see. Thank you. I am John Speed’s granddaughter from my maternal Grandmother Sybil Estelle Speed.
God Bless
Galilee Mills

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