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Palaeography  

Introduction to transcribing document 8

Try your hand at transcribing document 8. 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!

Hearth tax return, Besselsleigh, Berkshire. 1664. Cat ref: E 179/243/26 part 2 f 114. Author and copyright, George Caxton - enlargement opens in a new window

This document is written in a mixed hand, it has features from both late secretary hand and italic hand.

The letters which are typical of secretary hand include:

  • Capital 'C' of 'Churchwardens', line 26
  • Capital 'T' of 'Thomas', line 8,and 'These', line 21
  • the lower case 'c' used throughout, which looks exactly like a modern lower case 'r'

The letters which are more typical of italic hand include:

  • Capital 'A' of 'Andrew', line 13
  • Capital 'C' of Carter, line 9

The lack of linking strokes between many of the letters is also a feature of italic hand.

In this document you should watch out for:

  • Letters

Lower case 'c' which looks exactly like modern lower case 'r'.

Lower case 't' and 'l'. The 't's are sometimes not crossed, which can make them look like 'l's.

However, you can usually tell them apart by the fact that the 'l' is looped.

2 compartment 'g'
lower case 't'
2 compartment 'a'
lower case 'l'

  • Names can be very hard to transcribe, because you cannot work out the word from the context, and you can not guess how it would have been spelt. You simply have to go through, letter by letter carefully. If it is a list of names all written by the same person, you can see if a tricky letter appears elsewhere within the document in a more legible form. However, if it is a list of individual signatures, each one will have to be approached individually. [Tip: when working with original documents, if you get stuck on a list of names see if there is another document in the series with which you can compare the names – there might be a very similar but more legible list. For example, when transcribing this document, the name in line 18 could be 'William Daws', but we know from comparing it with another document (E179/243/25 f. 263) that it is 'William Davis'.]

  • Leave 'Berks' for Berkshire unabbreviated.

 

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