Robert Besley

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Robert Besley (1794–1876) was an English typographer, creator of Clarendon (typeface) in 1845 and the Lord Mayor of London in 1869.


Besley became a partner in the Fann Street Foundry in 1838, having been employed there since 1826 [1]. The Fann Street Foundry, in Fann Street, City of London, was also home of typographer William Thorowgood, the first to use the term "Grotesque" to describe a Sans-Serif typeface and the first to design one in lower case with his Seven Line Grotesque.[2][3]

When Besley created Clarendon he had it patented, as England just passed a bill allowing that. The typeface became so popular, though, that the copyright was soon broken by people creating knock-offs. Still known as the first Registered typeface. [4]

He then went on to become Sheriff of the City of London in 1863 and the Lord Mayor of London in 1869.


  1. ^ A History of the Old English Letter Foundries, Talbot Baines Reed, 1887
  2. ^ The First Sans Serif Graphic Design History, 2011. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  3. ^ Alexander Lawson's Anatomy of a Typeface on Google Books
  4. ^ Article Archived 2008-08-23 at the Wayback Machine. on, Fontlove section, by David Ng. Citing a thesis essay from Mitja Miklavcic, 2006.[dead link]

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by
Sir James Lawrence, Bt
Lord Mayor of London
1869 – 1870
Succeeded by
Sir Thomas Dakin