The handwriting


Simon Forman's handwriting. MS Ashmole 219, f. 190r. Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Libraries

Simon Forman writes in a typical Elizabethan secretary hand, with some italic features. Perhaps echoing medieval practices, he sometimes writes initial letters or whole names in much larger script, occasionally using red ink.

Richard Napier's handwriting

Richard Napier's handwriting. MS Ashmole 228, f. 204. Reproduced by permission of the Bodleian Libraries

Richard Napier also writes in a typical late Elizabethan secretary hand, with more italic features, and his script is notoriously slovenly. Their casebooks were working documents, not fair copies.

Good introductions to palaeography (the study of old handwriting), with online tutorials and guidance on deciphering Elizabethan secretary hands, are Cambridge University’s online course on English Handwriting 1500-1700 and the National Archives’ online palaeography tutorial.

Document last modified: 25 September 2013

Cite this as: Casebooks Project (The handwriting),, accessed 2018-08-17.