The study of handwriting is a specialised skill requiring experience, knowledge and patience. In many ways it is like deciphering a code that has been sealed for years waiting to be unlocked for our modern eyes.
Some documents are fairly straightforward and conform to general patterns, while others are so badly written or have survived in such poor condition that reading them can seem like an impossible task.
Each writer has his/her own quirks, methods and spelling, which can vary within a sentence. Such idiosyncrasies can make reading old documents tedious and infuriating rather than enjoyable. A lack of time can also be a frustrating barrier to our research.
I have ample experience of such problems and knowledge of how to overcome them.
I am an historian specialising in the local history of Warwick and the transcription of 16th century documents, particularly secretary hand of the Tudor and Stuart period.
I obtained a B.A. (Hons) degree in Medieval English and History, during which I undertook two modules on translating and analysing Old English and Middle English texts, and a course analysing and comparing Medieval manuscripts, specifically the Findern and Fairfax manuscripts containing the works of Chaucer.
For my M.Res (Master of Research) in Early Modern History, I wrote a thesis on the Black Book of Warwick, an Elizabethan municipal manuscript belonging to the Corporation of Warwick. I also undertook a Palaeography course at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on how to transcribe historical documents, so I am well qualified and equipped with the skills to decipher old English writing.
My research has brought me into contact with a wide range of primary source material at Record Offices and the National Archives, particularly:
- Town charters
- Account books
- Municipal minute books
- Probate records (wills, inventories and codicils)
- Churchwardens’ accounts
- Court of Star Chamber documents
- Court of Chancery documents
- Court of Requests documents
- Court of Exchequer documents
- Subsidy rolls
- State Papers domestic
I also have experience in transcribing the following:
- 19th century asylum records
- Victorian letters
- An 18th century catalogue of books
I am currently producing a new edition of the Elizabethan municipal manuscript known as the Black Book of Warwick.
I am a keen genealogist and have researched my family tree back at least seven generations.
Documents analysed during my genealogical research have included:
- Census returns
- Birth, marriage and death certificates
- Parish registers
I am happy to conduct local and family history research for clients upon request.
Please see the Terms of Business page for further information.