The National Archives
Search our website
  • Search our website
  • Search our records
   
   
Palaeography  

Introduction to transcribing document 5

Try your hand at transcribing document 5. You can use the interactive transcribing exercise and the computer will give you a score. Or if you prefer you can print out the document and work through it yourself on paper. A full transcript is available for you to check your own work.

Transcription tips - READ THESE FIRST!

In this document you should watch out for:

Complaint about poor storage facilities for state records. 23 October 1686. Cat ref: E 36/253 p 169. Crown copyright - enlargement opens in a new window

The document is written in a very cursive late secretary hand.

In this document you should watch out for:

  • Capital and lower case 't'.

The capital 'T' does not really look like any modern letter, and to make matters worse, it is not written in exactly the same way each time it appears! You have to work it out from the context. See for example 'Lord High Treasurer', line 2. Refer to the alphabet to help you.

The difficulty with the lower case 't' arises from the fact that they are not crossed, making them look very much like 'l'. See for example 'top', line 20. However, a genuine 'l' will have a looped ascender, making it easy to distinguish from a 't'.

2 compartment 'g'
lower case 't'
2 compartment 'a'
lower case 'l'
  • As before, transcribe the ‘thorn’ (the letter that looks like a modern 'y' but was actually an Anglo-Saxon symbol for 'th') as a 'th'. Thus ye in line 11 should be transcribed as 'the'.
  • Watch out for the number 8. Often this would be written looking a bit like a modern 'S' lying on its side.
  • Abbreviations

The document contains some abbreviations which should already be familiar to you. It also makes use of suspension [leaving a word 'unfinished'], and contraction [missing out some letters in the middle of the word]. See for example 'the Abbey of Westm', line 4, and 'honble', line 1. In both of these cases, it is clear what the full word should be.

Sometimes these types of abbreviation are indicated with a mark or superscript letters, but not always. So you have to watch out for them.

Expand 'Mr' as M[aste]r. The word 'Mister' was not used until the 18th century.

Back

Next