Online Training Activities

From MarineLives
Jump to: navigation, search

Online Training Activities

Editorial history.

Created by JW 28/08/12

What is it all about?

Here is a link to a couple of short videos made by our Bath Spa students that will help to explain what the project is about and how it works.

  1. REDIRECT [[1]]


This section is to help you develop the skills and knowledge to effectively transcribe the High Court Admiralty material (HCA). To enable you to do this you will need to have

  • Some background knowledge of the HCA

  • knowledge of Palaeography in the 17th century

  • Knowledge of the terms and phrases used in the 17th century

When you have completed these tasks you will need to get used to using the Transcription and Editorial policy and know how to edit a wiki. Whilst this may appear daunting at first glance, it is all very straight forward. The ethos of the project is collaborative and therefore we hope that by sharing our problems and solutions we will all be more productive.

An easy to read article which gives an overview of life at sea at the time is [2]

Colin has created a section on Introduction to the High Court of Admiralty and if you have not already looked at it, I would suggest you do that now. You do not need to have a go at transcribing the documents on there as some of them are quite difficult, but the notes will give you an idea of what the material we will be transcribing is about. It would be a good idea to try and read some of the transcriptions from volume HCA 13/72, this link will take you to a list of cases and deponents. They are in alphabetical order (after a fashion), you can choose a case and read through the witness statements or you could read through this case which here is a link to a Case about a ship called New England Merchant, the first statement is by a Richard Brogan - if you read through it you will find it mentions things like English stile referring to the English Calender, and you will see we are transcribing it as it is written using 17th Century spellings. Very often the most challenging aspect of transcription are the names and places.

For background reading Colin has provided many Useful articles and secondary materials for you to work through, a George Steckley article is a good starting point.

The documents that we will be transcribing are the statements from witnesses and as such many of them do tend to follow a pattern, with similar phrases appearing at the beginning and end of paragraphs. This should help to make our task easier when we get to grips with the writing. There are often references to a wide range of European cities and countries and some of the mariners names are dutch in origin.

Task 1 Getting Started

Getting Started

To get started go to look at Introduction to the High Court of Admiralty 1.Typical single leaf layout and part: fuller case details, if you click on the image this normally enlarges it which may make it easy to read. You might want to print them off. Rather than transcribing the whole document see what words you can pick out and how are they different to the way we would write them today. Look at how the letters are formed, when consonants are doubled, which letters that we would use today have been substituted by other letters? You may want to check your own ideas with the model transcription provided. Here is a summary of what you may have found together with a sample alphabet from the period Introduction to Palaeography Colin has also started to compile an alphabet using the documents from the HCA here is a link to it Alphabets, Numbers and Dates

Background Information

As many of you will be aware, prior to 1752 Britain used the Julian Calendar which means that among other things the year started in March. It was only after we adopted the Gregorian calendar that the year was changed to start on January the first. However many other countries adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582/3 and some countries only adopted it in the 20th century. For more information on this see Search for ancestors - Gregorian calendar. You may see references to the new and old calendar in the transcriptions.

Task 2 Abbreviations


In addition to the spelling and the way letters are formed you will also find that some words are abbreviated here are some examples

 Allon – abbreviation for allegation
 Arle – abbreviation of article
 Arlate - abbreviation of articulate, meaning mentioned in the articles, "onely one of the fowre English ships arlate" (HCA 13/19)
 Depo:t - abbreviation for deponent (the person who is making the legal statement, or deposition, in the High Court of Admiralty)
 psons - persons,  par & per are often abbreviated to p (e.g. pishes instead of parishes; psuade instead of persuaded)

For a more extensive list look at this dictionary created by Colin Abbreviation
When transcribing abbreviated words we want you to put the letters that have been missed out for more detail read the Transcription & Editorial Policy

Here is an example of a text with an abbreviation can you transcribe it? What is the word that has been abbreviated? Very clear cursive hand. When you have transcribed it check your answer with the model answer provided. You can post your attempts here Attempts page

Task 2b)

Here is another example of an extract with an abbreviated word transcribe it and then check your answer against the model transcription. You can post your attempts here Attempts page

Extrat of P1110094.PNG

Model Transcription for extract of p1110094

You will find more examples of abbreviations in the dictionary provided abbreviations

Task 3 Tricky letters and uses

Tricky letters and uses

As you will have noticed many letters were formed differently here are some examples of some of the more difficult ones to work out.

H or h


Example 3b

You will have noticed from the above example that C is also a tricky letter (in my view possibly the trickiest). Here are four examples of the letter C all formed differently.

Capt mills was comannder

Example 3c

R or r can also trip you up to start with.

Examples of the letter r
Examples of the letter r in manuscripts

Example 3d

The letters o, a and e can be difficult to distinguish, again here are some examples from the text.

Examples of e, O and a
Example of a capital E in England

Task 3e Transcribing a longer section

Transcribe the following section of manuscript

This is a longer section that includes the above examples, you may also find that a colon is used to replace letters occasionally. The section includes the names of the following ships.
Golden Starr, Morning Starr, Advantage frigot, Water hound Mayflower.
The word commonwealth is also used.

You may need to look back at some of the previous sections to help you transcribe it. You can post your attempts here Attempts page

Section one

Here is the model answer "Section 1 model answer" - what mark out of 10 would you give yourself?

Task 4 Latin

There may be some latin phrases used in some documents, although this is quite rare. Here is an example of a paragraph with a Latin phrase at the beginning and end of the paragraph, can you transcribe the paragraph? You can post your attempts here Attempts page Here are some other common latin phrases that you might come across.

The Policy is to transcribe the words in latin as they are on the page.

Extract with latin Check your transcription with the HCA 23/19 no fol no. Interrogatories Excerpt model answer.

Task 5 Money and measurements

The currency used is that of Pre decimalisation pounds, shillings and pence, money is often mentioned in connection with the wages of the sailors. An example is Challenge 3

There is a wide variety of measurements used in connection with cargo. This extract demonstrates how money might be displayed within a document and gives some measurements used Example of weights and measures. More examples are given in the Weights and measures dictionaries.

Task 6 Layout and common phrases

The documents tend to follow a common layout. There will be short summary of the case with the names of some of the people involved.


On the right hand side of this document you can see the date at the top, and underneath it says

Mark Harrison of wapping in
the country of middlx mariner aged
seven and twenty yeares or there abouts
a witnes sworne and examined deponeth and
saith as followeth. vizt

These words are used to introduce most of the cases, not necessarily in the same order.

The rest of the page may in alot of cases be giving answers to various articles or arles or interries. It may look like this


To the first Article of the said Allegation hee saith, that hee this deponent
hath well knowine the arlate Jacob Sheàfe of Boston in new England
and Henry Ashurst of london marchante for about three yeares last
past during all which time they the said Sheafe and Ashurst
have and hold correspondence together in the way of

Task 7 Additional help

The pages are written by 4 or 5 different people. Their handwriting is quite different and we have graded them according to how difficult we think they are.
Here is some addition help for each style of handwriting.

Very Easy hand

This is quite a modern hand, although it can be a bit loopy. Here is an example, you can see the very stylised capital T, the capital C as shown earlier.

Very easy hand.png



Task 8 A Final Test

If you would now like to have a go at transcribing a page and have not been allocated one, email me at and I select an easy page for you to have a go at. Below are some examples of how letters and words are formed in many of the easy pages. You will find more help at the Transcription Notes for Easy pages.

400 "the first letter stands for th - the word is thousands
th = the 21th
h for harbie
I for Interrogate
Watch out for the long lead in stokes that can confuse you, this word starts with a W = worth
Cesar the name of a ship
ffudge the name of a person


If you would like to practice your Paleography some more here are links to other pages on the web that you might find useful General Palaeography Resources


1. Should I correct the spellings in documents where it is spelt differently to the way would spell it today? No, do not correct spellings transcribe the words as they are spelt in the manuscript, even if that is different within the same document e.g. said may be spelt sayd or said.

2. What should I do about punctuation? They did not punctuate documents in the way we do today, so do not add in full stops or commas if you think they are missing. But do transcribe any dots or dashes as they appear in the manuscript.

3. How do I indicate a wide margin or text in a margin? To indicate text in a margin you transcribe it and then put it in bold leaving a blank line either side