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Background Information

William Dunlop is in Dordrecht (Dort) in the Netherlands in May 1681. This first letter is written fairly neatly, with well formed Secretary Hand letters (although he reverts to his more natural hand, Italic, when he signs off at the end).

Several placenames are mentioned:

Scots English
Barastones B'oness, a Scottish port on the river Forth
Dort Dordrecht, a Dutch port
Edinbruch Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland
Rotterdam Rotterdam, a Dutch port

Although phonetic spelling may cause a few problems, most of the vocabulary is straightforward. Exceptions are:

Scots English
Billies friends
Cephering ciphering, in the sense of bookkeeping and arithmetic using arabic numerals
Pile-grass a crop of some kind, possibly used as livestock fodder

Images reproduced with permission of Glasgow City Council, Mitchell Library (Mitchell Library reference DC14/2).

Take The Test

The document has been divided into 4 sections. Read the section shown in the image and transcribe the word you think is missing from the text below by typing in the appropriate blank space. The text be red as you type and will turn black when you have transcribed the word correctly.

If you would prefer to complete the tutorial on paper go to Print The Test.

Lines 1-8 of a letter written by William Dunlop in 1681, Mitchell Library reference DC14

1. Dort May 21 1681
2. Loving father I thought it fit to lat you knou th[a]t I am com to Dort to
3. schoul & th[a]t Mr Russell by John stirlings ordors given me an letter of re-
4. commendation & I thanck god I was in better helth in my life then
5. at this time & ther ar only tuo men in schoul who cam from Edin
6. bruch & I my self & we are nou learning somwhat of the language & to write
7. & within 10 or 12 days we shall to cephering Nether John stirling
8. nor John Miller is come to Rotterdam for ought th[a]t I knou as yet & James Bell

Transcription of lines 1-8

Lines 9-17 of a letter written by William Dunlop in 1681, Mitchell Library reference DC14

9. when I cam from Rotterdam ; to go home w[i]t[h] Andreu Burnsyd
10. therfor if nether John stirling nor John Miller com to Rotterdam befor
11. Burnsyde go out of it I thing it fit to home the calf w[i]t[h] the pile-grass w[i]t[h]
12. Andreu Burnsyd to Barastones Loving father we hear at get
13. very good dayet & have our stomoch wery weel our dayet being alwayes
14. flesch, , butter, & syllets S[i]r I am to hear from
15. you if ye be all in good helth being desyrous of nothing mor in the world
16. then to hear th[a]t ye ar all weel; I cam to Dort I have dreamed
17. of my mother 3 or 4 therfor I intreat you ernestly w[i]t[h] the first occasion

Transcription of lines 9-17

Lines 18-26 of a letter written by William Dunlop in 1681, Mitchell Library reference DC14

18. to let me certanly knou if she be in good helth having to you from
19. Rotterdam the 8 day of this moneth I expect to hear from you shortly & when
20. you your letters direct them to Mr Russell & he will have a
21. th[a]t they com to my hand, pen & ink cannot the love of my hert to you all
22. express therfor I shall say no mor bot having my humble service presented to you
23. my loving father & to my dear mother to my tuo & billies
24. James & John to my good brother & to his wife my sister Jean & to all the
25. rest of my & sisters to my Ant & to my Ant Jean Blair being
26. very desyrous to hear from you I rest

Transcription of lines 18-26

Lines 27-32 of a letter written by William Dunlop in 1681, Mitchell Library reference DC14

27. Your Loving and obedient son
28. till death
29. William Dunlop
30. S[i]r
31. Hawe my presented to James Robertone to patrick Bell & to
32. all friends & in Glasgou

Transcription of lines 27-32

Read the full transcription