Reading old documents


Old documents may be fragile, damaged or faded but in most cases these conditions do not prevent us from making sense of them. A greater practical problem is that many early (circa 1600) documents are written in a different script to that we use today, and that in particular some letters look completely different. Other challenges with early Manx documents are the use of abbreviations, different formatting, erratic spelling and the occasional use of Latin.


The Capital Letters and Lower Case sections illustrate typical forms for our modern day letters using extracts taken from early Manx documents. Some letters were represented in multiple ways and for this reason several examples have been given for each character. This type of old script was also used on the English mainland and was called secretary hand.


The Latin phrases section gives an attempted translation of some common terms appearing in early Manx documents. These translations were derived from Latin/genealogical word lists together with my understanding of the context.


The Manx words section relates to the occasional usage of the Manx language in old Manx documents.


The Abbreviations section describes common formatting and shorthand seen in early Manx documents and gives some examples.


Full page images of several documents appear under Images in the top menu.