The New Early Settlers of Maryland
Variation of Spelling

The first thing is not to be fussy.  Though you may consider only one spelling of your name correct, chances are that several spellings were current in the 17th century. Even of the simplest - such as "Evans," "Johnson," and "Jones.  Many names comprising but one long syllable were - and stll are -  spelled in many ways; for instance,  "Kean," "Keane," "Keen, "Keene"; "Read," "Reade," "Reed," "Reede," "Reid," "Ried," and "Riede." When the long syllable ends with a sound that can be represented by either of two consonants, the number of possibilities grows; for instance,  "Pearce," Pearse,"  "Peerce," "Peerse," "Peirce," "Peirce," "Peirse," "Pierce," and "Pierse."

The twenty-first century is like the seventeenth in having these variations but unlike it in worrying about them. As they were illiterate, most people of the seventeenth century couldn't worry about them, and the few who could probably didn't, for the notion that one spelling was correct and all others wrong didn't yet exist. Within limits, all spellings were acceptable. What mattered was sound. This is the view which twenty-first-century readers should take of seventeenth-century spelling.

In the seventeenth century the alphabet had 24 1/2 letters. "J" represented two sounds, the ones now represented by "I" and "J" ( whose capitals in cursive are still the same). Usually it is easy to tell which sound is meant: if "I" is followed by a consonant, the sound is "I" as in "Insley" and "Inglis"; if by a vowel, the sound is "J" as in "James" and "Jones." Unfortunately, as in manuscripts of all centuries,  "n" and "u," a consonant and a vowel, often are similar or identical. "Ines" or "Inez" is recognizable as a woman's name. But what is "Iues"? The 1/2-letter was "U," which, though it looks like modern "U," is included in indexes of the time under "V." Simple enough, but occasionally "w" substitutes for "u" or "v," as in the first name of Levin or Lewin Denard in Patents WC2:118 or the surname Douty or Dowty in Patents GG:128,363 & 11:104,402, and as mentioned above, "u" often is indistinguishable from "n.

The interchangeability of "n" and "u" and alternation between old and new forms of letters are illustrated in the patent beginning on Patents R:145a.  It is to George Sanghier-Saughier, the surname spelled both ways.  For the first 3 1/2 lines "r"s are modern; thereafter some are 17th century: "for" in l. 4; "consideration," "Sanghier," and "planter" in l. 5; "transported" (which has both) and "Dorothy" in l. 6. Most "h"s are modern; but ll. 10 and 13 have 17th century "h"s in "the year" and  "twentieth." Most "C"s also are modern; 17th century "C"s are in "Come" in l. 3 and "Conditions" in ll. 7 and 8. Lower case "c"s are all 17th century; for example , in "Province" in ll. 1 and 7, "such" in l. 7,  "record" in l. 10, and "called" in l, 16. Terminal lower case "s"s all are 17th century; for instance, "persons" and "presents" in l. 3, "this" in l. 5, and "is" in l. 12. Medial "s"s are modern, as in "persons," "these,"  "presents" in l. 3. and "August" in l. 13.

Upper-case letters, with all their florishes, are specially troublesome. "L" & "S often were confused by transcribers, as in Patents 15:504, which turns "Lidall" in Patents LL:750 into "Sidall" (not illustrated). Patents 4:79 turns "Jorningham" in Patents R:37b into "Torningham" (not illustrated).The demand and assignment in Patents 5:56 illustrate, most strikingly,  a change of  an upper-case "L" to an upper-case "H": "Lambdin" in l. 4 to "Hambdin" in ll. 5 and 8.  Less striking, in ll.1 & 2 upper case "J" denotes both the consonant sound in "Joane" and the vowel sound in "Inters."

"Inters"  illustrates also the interchangeability  of  vowels, especially short "e" and "i." Likewise, the second syllable of Larky is spelled three different ways: "e," "ie," and "y." As this record is a transcript of about 1725, lower case "s"s are all modern. In Patents 1:144, whereas in modern English "G" before "a" is rarely or never soft, "Games" and "James" are the same word.  This demand, like the one above, is from a transcript of about 1725: Patents 6:136.  Except the "FF" in "FFrancis" and the "ss" in "assign" and "witness," letters are modern, and the "n"s and "u"s are clearly distinguishable.  But it illustrates indifference to the slight difference between "a" and "u" which  produced the two clearly different names - Cramp and Crump - of two large families.