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Public Archives

The Great Charter 1609


View Great Charter Transcript 1609

View Original Front Sheet (Great Charter)


To help you to read the Great Charter of 1609, please look at the notes below.

The Charter has been typed from the copy of the Great Charter 1609.  The written English is a mix of early Modern English and Middle English with only 24 letters of the alphabet.  The Great Charter needs to be read phonetically, it has been typed exactly as the copy.  The spelling of words change throughout the Charter.  There is evidence that more than one person was responsible for drawing up this document - the writing changes enough not to be the same hand.  The framed Copy of the Great Charter of 1609 hanging in the Town Hall is a transcription by Harry Guy of Shalfleet in 1912 and differs to the typed copy in several respects.  

“Cracking the Code” As soon as you start to read this Charter it becomes obvious that an early form of code or abbreviating of words was used throughout.  The English Language can be separated into four distinct styles: Old English or Anglo Saxon (c500 - 1050), Middle English (c1050-1550), Early Modern English (c1550-1700), Late Modern English (c1700 onwards).   The first obvious one is ‘sd’ which is our ‘said’. The letter ‘y’ as in ‘ye’ translates to ‘the’ therefore where you see ‘yr’ it is ‘their’, or ‘there’, ‘yt’ becomes ‘that’, ‘ym’ becomes ‘them’ and so on.  If all else fails remember to say the word phonetically, in most cases it becomes clear what the word is although the spelling is not familiar.  In particular ‘x’ is usually ‘sc’ especially at the beginning of a word such as ‘exercise’.  However, there are three words that we have not been able to understand, these are: mocõu, cullor and usurpacõu (possibly usurpation). 

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Monday 21st March 2016 08:17FI000001D