Monday, 22 April 2013

A-Z Challenge 2013: S is for Secretary Hand

I first met "Secretary Hand" when I was transcribing a 1700 census for Ottery St Mary (the transcription can be viewed here at GenUKI).

It was widespread in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and grew out of the Book Hand and the Court Hand.

Soon, it was used for businesses, government, and church - and then it became so common that it was taken up for personal use.

Looking at this sample (this is William Shakespeare's Will):
can you believe that Secretary Hand was introduced so as to provide a more legible style of handwriting? 

In genealogy/family history, you will most often see it when you are trying (desperately) to transcribe the Will of one of your ancestors.

Below is a graphic supplied by, which shows the individual letters:


  1. I do find it hard to believe that they came up with this as an easier to read alternative. Makes me quake to imagine what it replaced.

  2. I think Secreatry Hand must be what I was reading when I was involved in transcribing our Parish Record into a digitised form last year. It takes a bit of getting used to, but when you are doing repetitive stuff about how many rods, poles and perches a certain field is, and who it belongs to, you soon get the hang of it! ffences is quite a strange word though. I wonder when the ff was dropped?
    Happy A to Z-ing!
    Jemima at Jemima's blog

  3. I agree, Jemima - it does seem to get easier when you read it a lot. Gotta go - I'm off to check out your blog! Thanks for looking at mine.

  4. This was supposed to simplify things or what? Interesting nevertheless.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  5. It does take practice, Arlee, but is definitely worth it! Off to visit your blog...



You may NOT use the contents of this site for commercial purposes without explicit written permission from the author and blog owner. Commercial purposes includes blogs with ads and income generating features, and/or blogs or sites using feed content as a replacement for original content. Full content usage is not permitted.

You Might Also Be Interested In

Total Pageviews

Blog Archive