Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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Key letters: the Secretary Hand e and s

If you can develop the ability to read two particular Secretary Hand letters, the e and the s, without thinking, you will have taken a huge step in Early Modern Scottish palaeography. This is because the letters e and s are the most frequently used vowel and consonant, respectively, in English and Scots.

Secretary Hand 'e's look a bit like the Greek letter theta:. Once the brain of a palaeographer begins to recognize the Secretary Hand e, without having to stop and think, or rfr to a ky, his or hr rading spd incrass markdly, if only bcaus, the lttr is th most commonly usd vowl in Scots documnts.

Here are some examples of Secretary Hand e from 17th century Scottish documents.

examples of Secretary Hand e

The letter s in Secretary Hand comes in two forms: the long s, which descends below the line:

Secretary Hand long s

and the short s:

Secretary Hand short s

There was a tendency to use the long s when starting words, and the short s when finishing words: as in the word scandalous below.

the word scandalous showing both long and short s

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