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STEP 3: Secretary Hand abbreviations

Many of these abbreviations and contractions were devised for medieval Latin words but continued in use in English documents during the early modern period.

Common bar cion

The common bar mark – a straight line inserted above a word to indicate a missing letter. In this example, the use of the common bar indicates the absence of the letter ‘i’ in ‘occupacions’. It is sometimes formed by extending back from the last letter in the word. In most cases it indicates the suspension of the letters ‘m’ or ‘n’.

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Common bar m

In this example, the common bar mark has been used to denote the absence of the letter ’m’ in ‘committe’.

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er

The vertical line attached to the ‘v’ in this word is an abbreviation for the letters ‘er’.  The word should be transcribed as ‘delyvered’.

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es

The loop attached to the end of this word is the commonly used abbreviation for the letters ‘es’. This example would be transcribed as ‘partes’. By the 17th century it simply substitutes ‘s’. Always check the spelling used in the rest of the document when transcribing.

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item

This abbreviated form of the word ‘item’ is commonly used in documents such as wills and inventories.

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lordship

‘Lop’ was commonly used as an abbreviation for 'lordship' and ‘lops’ or ‘lopps’ for the plural. ‘Lo:’ was also used for 'lord' or 'lordship'. They key in transcribing is understanding the context in which the abbreviation is being used in the document.

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majestie

The superscript ‘tie’ in this word indicates the absence of the letters ‘jes’ in ‘Majestie’.

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majestys

In this example, there are two abbreviations. The superscript letters again denote the absence of ‘jes’. Note the ‘es’ abbreviation attached to the ‘t’ at the end of the word. It should be transcribed ‘Majesties’.

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ment

The superscript ‘t,’ in this example, indicates the absence of the letters ‘en’ in ‘Tenement’. It is one of the most commonly abbreviated words.

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our

This abbreviation, which looks very much like a squiggle, was commonly used as an abbreviation for the letters ‘ur’. In this example it is used for 'our'.

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discourse

In this example, the 'ur' abbreviation is located in the middle of the word 'discourse'. In other cases, it is used as a superscript 'r'.

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par

The loop back through the descending part of the letter ‘p’, in this example, is an abbreviation used to denote ‘par’. The word is transcribed as ‘particulers’.

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per

It is also used here to denote ‘per’ in ‘persons’.

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pro

This loop, which extends backwards from the lobe of the letter ‘p’, is the abbreviation for ‘pro’. It is used in this example for ‘proportion’.

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pre

This loop, which extends upwards from the letter ‘p’, is the abbreviation for ‘pre’ or ‘pri’. It is used in this example for ‘presume’.

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sir

The superscript ‘r’ here is used as an abbreviated form of ‘Sir’.

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which

Two of the most commonly abbreviated words in Tudor and Stuart documents are ‘which’

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with

and ‘with’.

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thorn

The thorn. It was employed in medieval documents to denote ‘th’. It continued to be greatly used in early modern documents, though it is indistinguishable from a ‘y’ in this period. In this example, it is used to show the word ‘the’. Other usages include 'yt' to denote ‘that’. Beware examples such as ‘yt’ (meaning 'it') and ‘yssue’ in which the words genuinely begin with a ‘y’.

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yogh

The yogh. An Anglo-Saxon letter which in medieval writing was used to denote ‘gh’ or ‘ch’. It survived into the early modern period, although its usage was less frequent. In this example, the yogh has been used to denote 'gh' in 'nightes'.

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STEP 3: Secretary Hand abbreviations