The purpose of this page will be to provide information on the various styles of old English handwriting, particularly that which was called Secretary Hand, used in documents of the 16th and 17th centuries.

I'm strictly an amateur but with the assistance of various articles on deciphering old handwriting, some patience and practice I've managed to almost completely transcribe some documents which at first glance seemed way out of my 'ken'.


Extracts from the Will and Inventory of Henry HADFIELD of Whitfield in the parish of Glossop, Derbyshire, written in 1546.  Note: The second 'em' in remembrance is written as 'e' with a horizontal stroke above it.  An 'arke' was a chest, box or coffer; 'boards' were simple tables - boards lying on trestles; 'lames' were lambs of course.
I henry hadfelde of good & pfycte remembrance do make thys my
It[em] I beqweth to Rowse Rawson x [10] lames to be taken...
...to husbandre  &  my best arke  &  all  boards  wythin   howse...

Extract from the Will of William Vivian of St Columb Major, Cornwall, yeoman, 1659.
  I  doe  nominate  &  desire  to  be my  overseers Henry Carlion
  of    St  Austell    William    Slade  of   Gorran  John Pears of
  St  Enoder  &  John  Prideaux  of   St Issey  to be overseers of
  this my last will & testament.