Medieval Writing
15th Century English Chancery Hand

Script Type : minuscule

Script Family : Gothic bastarda

Date : 15th century

Location : England

Function : Document hand or charter hand

This sample is from a petition of 1449 from the abbot amd convent of Tewkesbury (National Archives E.28/79/30). By permission of the National Archives. The sample shows only the left hand side of the long, narrow document, so it does not read continuously.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters : This hand is interesting to compare with the previous example of 15th century English chancery hand, because while it is very similar in style, and classifiable as the same script in a generic sense, there are a number of differences in specific letter forms. Like the previous, it has cursive qualities, but the letters are very angular in form. Even the curly ascenders and descenders of letters like b, d, l or g have a somewhat angular appearance. Both scripts use the same extravagant k. It is very neat and clear, and easy to read once you get the hang of it.

It differs from the previous in a number of specifics. This hand uses the two Gothic styles of r, but not the cursive r as used in the other. The letter w is of much simpler form. The letter y lacks the curl at the bottom and is dotted, as also is i, mostly. The letter n is mostly more clearly differentiated from u and v, so that I personally would go for grannte in the great grannte/graunte controversy, but it has to be admitted that there are some rather dubious intermediate forms. Which all goes to show that handwriting is an individualised craft, classify it as we will.

There are no examples of j, q or z in the text. There are only a few abbreviations.

The sample given is not continuous, but pass the cursor over slowly to pick out a few bits and pieces. To read the whole text you will have to go to the paleography exercise. If you have not done this yet, or have found some of the others a bit daunting, this is a nice easy one to start on, with a very short document, nice legible script and familar language. Pity about the spelling.

The image on this page has been updated from a scan from an old photocopy to a colour image from a National Archives download.

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 modiefied 12/3/2008.