Medieval Writing
Cursive Document or Personal Hand

Script Type : minuscule cursive

Date : early 16th century

Location : England

Function : document hand or personal hand

This is a segment from some notes on the verso of a genealogy of the Beauchamp family. The notes date from the early 16th century, from a private collection.
Pass cursor over letters to see enlarged examples taken from the page illustrated above.

Distinctive letters: This example gives the lie to the idea that a more recent script is likely to have more familiar letter forms. Some of the letters here look quite odd, even in comparison to the slightly earlier script which forms the main body of the document, and is also featured on this website. The segment shown is part of a list of manors, with their annual rental value, and it is instructive to note that the word manor is spelled in three different ways in the small segment shown.

The oddest letter is probably h, which appears to have collapsed, having only a tiny looped ascender, but sporting a long flourishing descender. It can be quite difficult to recognise.

The letter e is open, like a small capital, while c sometimes has a simple appearance and at other times wears atwo appendages on the back that make it look like an x. The letter r also has a crossed appearance, while x itself has a long descender.

Ascenders on tall letters tend to form loops, including on the letter t, which is also confusing. The letter d, on the other hand, has an angular backsloping ascender with a kink in it.

The letter s usually appears in the short and curly form, except where it occurs at the end of the word and becomes a sort of tall flourish. The standard tall s only appears when the letter is doubled, ss , where the two tall letters are joined. Something similar happens with double f.

The letter w has a peculiar lopsided form which can make it hard to distinguish from n, while k has an elaborate double looped form. The letters i and j appear to be written identically, as do u and v.

The y form of th only appears in words which have been abbreviated, otherwise it is written out in full.

No example of q can be found here.

The other half of Tillotson Medieval Enterprises has been transcribing 16th century wills and inventories which display very similar scripts to this, so it would seem to be a useful one for the family historians to get familiar with. Pass the cursor slowly over the text to get a quick impression, then go on to the paleography exercises for a more detailed examination.

The document from which this comes is a composite of scripts, with a genealogy written in one distinctive hand, and notes added in another. The script of the main genealogy also appears on this website as a script example and paleography exercise.

Paleography exercises using Flash

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Other script of this document
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 modified 5/2/2006.