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

Introduction to transcribing document 1

Try your hand at transcribing document 1. 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:

Letter, Princess Elizabeth to her sister, Queen Mary I. 16 March 1554. Cat ref: EXT 11/25. By permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - enlargement opens in a new window
  • Use of 'y' for 'i', for example, saynge: line 1.
  • Interchangeable 'u' / 'v', such as euer - ever: line 1, vnto - unto: line 6.
  • Use of 'es' for genitive, rather than apostrophe and 's'. For example, kinges: line 1. It may look like there is an apostrophe after the 'e', but what you can see is actually part of the letter 'e', called a 'horn'.
  • The abbreviation .M.: line 2, which in this document means 'Majesty', that is Mary I. Transcribe this as 'M[aiestie]' in this document.
  • The abbreviation sign that means an 'm' or an 'n' has been omitted. This is a dash over the preceding vowel. The context will make it clear which letter it is. See for example, line 3: remēber - remember. The abbreviation sign shows that there is an 'm' missing. line 3: demaūde - demaunde. The abbreviation sign shows that there is an 'n' omitted. Don't mistake the 'u' for an 'n'.
  • Minims - m n u i. It can be difficult to work out these letters. Use common sense. Even if the word really does look like 'thmg', since there is no such word, it must be 'thing'. Refer to the context - in line 4: am looks a bit like ani, but it can't be because of the context.
  • Archaic spelling and different vowel sounds, for example, provid: line 5, sistar: line 37. In line 13 when Elizabeth writes the word parson she is not talking about a vicar, rather this is how she spells (and probably pronounces) 'person', meaning Mary herself. Words containing 'aun', which in modern spelling would be just 'an', such as demaunde: line 3.
  • Long 's'. Don't get long 's' and 'f' mixed up. See false: line 6. The 'f' will have a cross stroke, even if it's hardly noticeable, and the context will make it clear whether it is a long 's' or an 'f'. Use of both long and short 's'. See possible: line 17.
  • Interchangeable i and j. subiect - subject: line 7.
  • Use of single consonant, where you would find two in modern English. For example, al - all: line 8.
Back

Next