How Letters that cannot be defaced may be written upon Mens bodies.--From Eighteen books of the secrets of art and nature--
If you please at any time to write new Figures upon a Man, you may easily do it in a hot house, dividing the uttermost skin with a Razor, or a Lancet, first marking the Letter with Inke upon the skin; then fill up the cuts with red Lead, or blew, or with some Earth of the same colour which you would have it...
This wasn't for the benefit of the person getting the tattoo, but for the person making the tattoo. They would write notes on a person's skin and then have them deliver it (in person obviously).
People can be so many things, including a sheet of paper. And I suppose I prefer people without tattoos because I like a blank canvas, or at least the illusion of one.