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These pages are designed to help you to decipher the spellings of words and names, handwritten in old documents.
We are not graphologists, and we make no attempt to determine the personality of the writers.
We will analyse the different styles of writing certain letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case, and show some examples.
We will then show some examples of very poorly written text, and attempt to decipher it.
Part of that deciphering comes from a knowledge of the context in which the writer is writing. We will be using examples from the 1891 census, and we will describe the context in detail each time they occur.
Analysis of the handwriting in the 1891 census is sometimes very difficult, partly because of the variations in the quality of the writing itself, partly because of damage to the microfiches.
The problem of deciphering a name may also be because of a difference in spelling between a hundred years ago and today.
Many names have changed in subtle ways since the nineteenth century, sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally.
Check the links to the left for thousands of boys given names, girls given names and family names and their spelling variations
Most of the names in these lists are capitalized, we are working to change that as we believe that they are easier to read with a capital first letter and the rest in lower case.
However, this will take some time so please bear with us. Click on the letters of the alphabet above to view handwriting examples of that letter.