Learn about old handwriting

Learn about old handwriting

 

Format

Background

When transcribing the historic tax rolls, we want to have an accurate representation of original document. This means that we want to reproduce the capitalisation and punctuation of the documents as they appear in the original handwritten version. It might be difficult, but we don't want you to correct spelling or punctuation, but if you do have to correct a word to make it understandable, we ask that this is done by inserting the correct word after the unclear word and placing it in square brackets.

The purpose of the transcription project is not to produce a publishable version of the records, it is to produce a "way-pointing" to the content of these historical tax records.

We want to provide a few guidelines for transcription of the records, but we offer two main rules for being involved and enjoying the project:

  • Transcribe what you see, row by row
  • Always click save

Headers

Handwritten information found at the head of printed pages should be entered in the continued entries/extra info field when you enter the first row of data on a page. These are usually only found on the 18th century taxation and OS Name Books. In the Hearth and Land taxes, transcription runs simply from the top to the bottom of the page, so transcribe everything as it is written.

Footers

Handwritten information found at the foot of printed pages should be entered in the continued entries/extra infofield when you enter the last row of data on a page. These are usually only found on the 18th century taxation and OS Name Books. In the Hearth and Land taxes, transcription runs simply from the top to the bottom of the page, so transcribe everything as it is written.

Marginalia

If there are marginal notes found on a page (usually printed forms of the 18th century taxes or OS Name books), enter these as a note when transcribing a contiguous entry.

Paragraphs

If transcribing and it is quite clear that there are paragraphs in the original document, use the <enter> key and move to a new row and paragraph.

Lines

Preserve the structure of the document by transcribing row by row. When coming to the end of a row use the <enter> key to move to a new row. This will be most relevant in hearth and land tax records.

Pages - two presented on one image

Some of the records have been imaged in a way that two pages are presented side by side - as if the book is open. To transcribe these pages, simply work on the left hand page as you normally would, and then continue to the right hand page. You can use the 'Transcribe other information' and 'Transcriber's Notes' field to indicate this.

Spelling

Even if the spelling is wrong, please transcribe what you see. You can make a note in the 'Transcriber's Notes' field if you wish to highlight any issues or perhaps if you have additional local knowledge or references.

Ampersand

If the ampersand '&' is used in the text, please use it in the transcription.

Columns

The Hearth and Land Tax records use a 'free-text' box to enter the information, simply because the styles and formats of the records are so different, it is difficult to provide fields to enter information in. Columns of information are frequently found in these records, and to distinguish between columns, we have adopted the convention of using space two dashes space ' -- '

 

Handwriting style

Reading historical documents, also known as palaeography, can often be a challenge, but practise helps your learning experience. Before too long, you will read historical documents with few problems.

The 17th and 18th century Hearth and Land tax records are written in what is called a secretary hand style, which often has a number of conventions for understanding and deciphering.

The tax records of the later 18th century are written in what is called a cursive hand style, which is very similar to ‘joined-up handwriting’ that we know today. Most of the letter forms and words should be familiar to the reader, but there may be a few abbreviations, contractions, letter forms or words which may be unknown or unusual to those working with the documents.

We have provided a palaeography letter and number guide for the materials.

 

Scottish Handwriting

You can learn about Scottish handwriting either by following all of this basic tutorial or by looking at specific sections of parts that you are struggling with:

 

You can also use the manual which has helpful advice about:

 

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