Medieval Writing
16th Century Document Hand

Script Type : minuscule

Script Family : This might be catagorised by some as a form of Bastard Secretary, but others do not like that term, as what is generally called Secretary in England came after this, and you can't have a bastard before its parents were born, so we will not say that again, but take refuge in that all purpose term transitional.

Date : 16th century

Location : England

Function : Document hand

This is the upper left hand corner of an indenture of 1546, involving the lease of a house and land by Sir William Marshe, chantry priest, to William Hall and his wife Johan (Nottinghamshire Archives DDFJ 7/80/11). By permission of Nottinghamshire Archives.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This 16th century hand is very upright, with extravagant angular loops. The letters g, h and x have closed loops below the line, while b and d have closed loopy ascenders. The letter e is very variable, sometimes looking as we know it, sometimes lke a figure of eight, and sometimes apparently back to front. The letter w is enlarged and curly. There are two forms of s, the long form and the short and curly, but r appears in a simplified form that drops below the line. The descender of q is open and bends to the left, like a modern g.

The letters n, u and v are indistinguishable, which leads to endless debates about how certain words should be spelled, such as graunted or grannted. As the spelling is, to our eyes, eccentric and often inconsistent, this is probably a fruitless argument.

There are no examples of j or z present.

The sample shown is only from the top left corner of the indenture, so it is not continuous text. To pick out a few phrases, pass the cursor slowly over the lines of text. To examine the whole thing you need to proceed to the paleography exercises. There you will also find out the significance of this early modern document to medieval history and the story of medieval writing.

Script Index

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This site is created and maintained by Dr Dianne Tillotson, freelance researcher and compulsive multimedia and web author. Comments are welcome. Material on this web site is copyright, but some parts more so than others. Please check here for copyright status and usage before you start making free with it. This page last modified 2/6/2005.