What do you do if you've found that all-important document but the old handwriting is impossible to understand? We offer the option to transcribe those 'hard-to-read' documents for you.
No matter whether it's the tricky flourishes in a 19th century will or a complicated bill from the 16th century - whatever the handwriting, we can read your documents for you.
Simply provide us with a good-quality copy of the document you're struggling to read and we will do the rest. You will receive a professional transcript of the document along with a detailed explanation of the transcription method.
Accurate transcription of old handwriting is a skilled specialism. The fee for this service is £25.00 per hour.
We will be able to provide an accurate estimate of the length of time required for a particular transcription upon seeing the document in question. The amount of time required will depend upon document length, document age and the style of handwriting employed.
As a guideline, it would take around an hour to transcribe a typical 18th century will of around three pages in length.
Old documents frequently contain unfamiliar abbreviations and employ letter forms which seem strange to the modern eye. Spelling was not standardised until the 18th century and even after this period there was still considerable variation. In addition, scribes sometimes used dialect or specialised vocabulary which can cause further difficulty in interpretation.
The example below shows a typical example of handwriting from the early 17th century.
[William Camden's commonplace book, p.3v, early 17th century. Source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University]
Note: [ ] is used to expand abbreviations and / indicates a line break in the original document
Here there arose some speach betwene the Earle / Marshall, and [th]e Lo[rd] cheife Justices, how manye knight[es] / fees are required for a Barony whether 13 and a half / 15 or 20 : how [th][a]t 20 [pounds] a yeare was a knight[es] fee because / he payed the 4 parte for relieff v[i]z 5 [pounds] and how in / auncientymes he [th][a]t could dispend 20 [pounds] by yeare was / compelled to be a knight .. somthing allso was added / of hides of Land, Carucat[es] &c.