John Robert Gregg

Last updated
John Robert Gregg
John Robert Gregg LOC 33970.jpg
BornJune 17, 1867 (1867-06-17)
Monaghan, Ireland
DiedFebruary 23, 1948(1948-02-23) (aged 80)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Educator, publisher, Humanitarian, inventor
Language English, Irish
Citizenship Irish
Notable works Gregg Shorthand

Signature John Robert Gregg Signature.svg

John Robert Gregg (17 June 1867 – 23 February 1948) was an educator, publisher, humanitarian, and the inventor of the eponymous shorthand system Gregg Shorthand.

An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means that becomes known as an invention. The word inventor comes from the Latin verb invenire, invent-, to find. The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. Although inventing is closely associated with science and engineering, inventors are not necessarily engineers nor scientists.

Shorthand abbreviated symbolic writing method

Short is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed and brevity of writing as compared to longhand, a more common method of writing a language. The process of writing in shorthand is called stenography, from the Greek stenos (narrow) and graphein. It has also been called brachygraphy, from Greek brachys (short) and tachygraphy, from Greek tachys, depending on whether compression or speed of writing is the goal.




John Robert Gregg was born in Shantonagh, Ireland, as the youngest child of Robert and Margaret Gregg, where they remained until 1872, when they moved to Rockcorry, County Monaghan. [1] Robert Gregg, who was of Scottish ancestry, was station-master at the Bushford railway station in Rockcorry. He and his wife raised their children as strict Presbyterians, and sent their children to the village school in Rockcorry, which John Robert Gregg joined in 1872. [2] On his second day of class, John Robert was caught whispering to a schoolmate, which prompted the schoolmaster to hit the two children's heads together. [2] This incident profoundly damaged Gregg's hearing for the rest of his life, rendering him unable to participate fully in school, unable to understand his teacher. [3] [4] This ultimately led to John Robert unnecessarily being perceived as dull or mentally challenged by his peers, teachers, and family. [5]

In 1877, one of Robert Gregg's friends, a journalist named Annesley, visited the village for a weekend. He was versed in Pitman Shorthand, and took verbatim notes of the sermon at the village church, causing the preacher to sweat and studder,[ clarification needed ] out of fear that his sermon, which he had plagiarized from a famous preacher, would be made public through Annesley's notes. [5] That day, Robert Gregg saw the shorthand skill as a powerful asset, so he made it mandatory for his children to learn Pitman shorthand, with the exception of John, who was considered by his family too "simple" to learn it. [6] None of the children succeeded in fully learning the system. [5] On his own, John Robert learned a different shorthand system, that of Samuel Taylor, published in a small book by Odell. He taught himself the system fully, since he did not require the ability to hear in order to learn from the book. [6]

Due to hardships on the family, Gregg had to leave school before the age of 13 in order to support his family's income. [7] He worked in a law office, earning five shillings a week. [7]


Gregg said he initially set out to improve the English adaptation by John Matthew Sloan of the French Prévost Duployé Shorthand, while working with one of Sloan's sales agents, Thomas Malone. [8] Malone published a system called Script Phonography, of which Gregg asserted a share in authorship was owed to him. [9] Angered by Malone, Gregg resigned from working with him and, encouraged by his older brother Samuel, published and copyrighted his own system of shorthand in 1888. [10] It was put forth in a brochure entitled Light-Line Phonography: The Phonetic Handwriting which he published in Liverpool, England. [10]

Duployan shorthand shorthand system for French created by Émile Duployé in 1860, and subsequently adapted for English, German, Spanish, Romanian, and Chinook Jargon

The Duployan shorthand, or Duployan stenography, was created by Father Émile Duployé in 1860 for writing French. Since then, it has been expanded and adapted for writing English, German, Spanish, Romanian, and Chinook Jargon. The Duployan stenography is classified as a geometric, alphabetic, stenography and is written left-to-right in connected stenographic style. The Duployan shorthands, including Chinook writing, Pernin's Universal Phonography, Perrault's English Shorthand, the Sloan-Duployan Modern Shorthand, and Romanian stenography, were included as a single script in version 7.0 of the Unicode Standard / ISO 10646

Liverpool City and metropolitan borough in England

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. The population of the Liverpool is 494,814 (mid-2018 est.) Liverpool is the ninth-largest English district by population, and the largest in Merseyside, and the Liverpool City Region. It lies within the United Kingdom's sixth-most populous urban area, and at the centre of the 5th largest metropolitan area with a population of 2.24 million.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

In 1893, he emigrated to the United States. That year he published Gregg Shorthand. [11] with great success. Gregg settled in Chicago where he wrote many books for the Gregg Publishing Company on shorthand and business practices.

Chicago city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,705,994 (2018), it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the US, with portions of the northwest side of the city extending into DuPage County near O'Hare Airport. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland. At nearly 10 million people, the metropolitan area is the third most populous in the nation.

See also


  1. Cowan, Leslie (1984). John Robert Gregg: A Biography. Oxford: The Pre-Raphaelite Press. p. 11.
  2. 1 2 Cowan, 11.
  3. Cowan, 11
  4. Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 169 (PDF Archived 2012-04-24 at the Wayback Machine )
  5. 1 2 3 Cowan, 12.
  6. 1 2 Cowan, 13.
  7. 1 2 Cowan, 14.
  8. Cowan, 18.
  9. Cowan, 21.
  10. 1 2 Cowan, 30.
  11. Cowan, 43.

Related Research Articles

Isaac Pitman British inventor

Sir Isaac Pitman, was a teacher of the English language who developed the most widely used system of shorthand, known now as Pitman shorthand. He first proposed this in Stenographic Soundhand in 1837. He was also the vice-president of the Vegetarian Society. Pitman was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1894.

Pitman shorthand is a system of shorthand for the English language developed by Englishman Sir Isaac Pitman (1813–1897), who first presented it in 1837. Like most systems of shorthand, it is a phonetic system; the symbols do not represent letters, but rather sounds, and words are, for the most part, written as they are spoken. As of 1996, Pitman shorthand was the most popular shorthand system used in the United Kingdom and the second most popular in the United States.

Gregg shorthand is a form of shorthand that was invented by John Robert Gregg in 1888. Like cursive longhand, it is completely based on elliptical figures and lines that bisect them. Gregg shorthand is the most popular form of pen stenography in the United States; its Spanish adaptation is fairly popular in Latin America. With the invention of dictation machines, shorthand machines, and the practice of executives writing their own letters on their personal computers, the use of shorthand has gradually declined in the business and reporting world. However, Gregg shorthand is still in use today.

Thomas Natural Shorthand is an English shorthand system created by Charles A. Thomas which was first published in 1935. Thomas described his system as "designed to meet the existing need for a simple, legible shorthand that is based on already familiar writing lines, and that is written with a minimum number of rules." The system has fallen into disuse with the decline of pen shorthand in the later 20th century, but the spirit of the system lives on in Teeline shorthand, with which it shares a number of characteristics.

Alexander Melville Bell British linguist

Alexander Melville Bell was a teacher and researcher of physiological phonetics and was the author of numerous works on orthoepy and elocution.

Rockcorry human settlement

Rockcorry, historically known as Newtowncorry or Cribby from the Gaelic 'cré buí' meaning yellow earth, is a village in north-west County Monaghan, Ireland, close to Dartrey Forest. It is situated on the R188 which links Cootehill to Monaghan town.

Susanna Wesley Mother of Methodism

Susanna Wesley was the daughter of Dr Samuel Annesley and Mary White, and the mother of John and Charles Wesley.

“…although she never preached a sermon or published a book or founded a church, (she) is known as the Mother of Methodism. Why? Because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life.”

<i>The Shakespeare Stealer</i> book by Gary Blackwood

The Shakespeare Stealer is a 1998 historical fiction novel by Gary Blackwood. Taking place in the Elizabethan-era England, it recounts the story of Widge, an orphan whose master sends him to steal Hamlet from The Lord Chamberlain's Men. It was an ALA Notable Children's Book in 1999. Blackwood published two sequels, Shakespeare's Scribe (2000) and Shakespeare's Spy (2003).

Benjamin Pitman, also known as Benn Pitman, was an English-born author and popularizer in the United States of Pitman shorthand, a form of what was then called phonography (shorthand). He was also active in the arts and crafts movement in the United States.

Samuel Annesley Puritan/nonconformist pastor

Samuel Annesley was a prominent Puritan and nonconformist pastor, best known for the sermons he collected as the series of Morning Exercises.

Marie Bethell Beauclerc British journalist

Marie Bethell Beauclerc (1845–1897) was a pioneer in the teaching of Pitman's shorthand and typing in Birmingham, England. In 1888 she was the first woman to be appointed as a teacher in an English boys' public school, at Rugby School. The Phonetic Journal September 1891 and the journal, Birmingham Faces And Places September 1892, both credit her with being the first female reporter in England.

Stenoscript or Stenoscript ABC Shorthand is a shorthand system invented by Manuel C. Avancena (1923–1987) and first published in 1950. Encyclopædia Britannica, perhaps erroneously, claims the system was originally published in London in 1607. An unrelated project also called Stenoscript was written by George A.S. Oliver and published in London in 1934.

Oliver Dyer was an American journalist, author, teacher, lawyer and stenographer. A pioneer in phonography, he developed his own shorthand system which was the first to be adopted for use in the United States. It was used not only for courtroom testimony but also for recording political events such as the Free Soil Convention in Buffalo, New York, and sessions of the 30th United States Congress in Washington, D.C., in 1848. It was in the latter role that he became the first Congressional shorthand reporter.

Samuel Bourn the Elder (1648–1719) was an English dissenting minister. His maternal uncle was Robert Seddon, who became minister at Gorton, Lancashire and Langley, Derbyshire, where he was silenced in 1662. Seddon sent Bourn to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which he left in 1672. His tutor was Samuel Richardson, who taught that there is no distinction between grace and moral righteousness and salvation is dependent upon the moral state. It does not appear that Bourn accepted this view; his theology was always Calvinistic and, although he regretted deflectors from that system, he was no hunter of heretics.

William Whitaker (1629–1672) was an English ejected minister.

<i>Providence</i> (Avatar Press)

Providence is a twelve-issue comic book limited series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Jacen Burrows, published by American company Avatar Press from 2015 to 2017. The story is both a prequel and sequel to Moore's previous stories Neonomicon and The Courtyard, and is part of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Eliza Boardman Burnz was a nineteenth century American shorthand inventor and promoter. Her simplified alphabet, arranged in the basis of Isaac Pitman's Phonography, was the subject of Mark Twain's essay A Simplified Alphabet.

Jane Bragg Pitman

Jane Bragg Pitman was an English-born writer and reporter known for her shorthand in the United States. She was also active in the arts and crafts movement in the United States for her wood engravings.