Richard Brunton (1749-1832), a British grenadier who fought in the American Revolution before deserting in 1779, was a trained engraver and diesinker. His primitive but charming works include some of the earliest pre-printed family registers in America. Despite his many talents and efforts, he was never able to make an honest living from his craft. Instead, he spent years living on the fringes of society, forging and counterfeiting currency, until his death in a New England almshouse. Richard Brunton engraved some of the earliest preprinted family registers in America. His registers—which feature columns for recording life dates such as births, marriages, and deaths—were often annotated by family members who witnessed the various events firsthand. An attributed Richard Brunton family register filled out for the family of Nathan Knowlton (1778-1862) and his wife Elizabeth Larned or Leonard (1780-1859) of Wilbraham, MA, c. 1802. Family register, of the family of Nathan Knowlton, at the top are two banners inscribed "Keep Sacred The Memory / Of Your Ancesters" separated by an eagle with a laurel in its claw; Register area engraved as a tombstone, with the parents' names at the top; the winged figure of Fame blowing a horn with a sash "FAME" is below the parents' names. The lower section is divided into three parts: "Names/ Born/ Died". The birth and death dates for their children Pamela, Denis, Hersey, Nathan, Lydia, James, and Abraham are listed. The borders of the print are engraved with figures of Faith, Hope, Charity and Peace in the corners, with a beehive, vase of flowers, the Dove of Peace, and a cornucopia also depicted. The print is mounted on a pine board which fits into the back of a 1 1/16" molded pine frame; frame and glass original. The register is unsigned, but is consistent in style and imagery with other family registers signed by Richard Brunton. A similar register is in the collection of Old Sturbridge Village.
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