Early Modern Hands (1450-1700)

Early Modern Hands (1450-1700)

Guillaume Coatalen, Senior lecturer in early modern English literature at CY Cergy Paris Université (France) (guillaumecoatalen@hotmail.com)

Cécile Decaix, Teaching Associate in English at the University Paul Valéry, Montpellier 3 (France) (cecile.a.decaix@gmail.com)


The purpose of the database is to help identify hands and study them according to various criteria like the writer’s name, gender, age, social status, profession and location.

Some hands belong to professional scribes.

Here are the original files I compiled:




Many thanks to Michael Pearce for letting me include pictures of Anne or Anna Livingstone, Countess of Eglinton’s and Helenor or Eleanor Hay, Countess of Livingstone’s hands

Many thanks to Yelda Nasifoglu for helping me add hands of members of the Royal Society 

Many thanks to Jane Giscombe for letting me include pictures of Bartholomew Dodington’s hands 


A Database of Early Modern Hands

type of document Language wdt_ID Writer Recipient Date shelfmark weblink to pic type of hand Gender age profession place social status
1 Wilson, Thomas 04/10/1618 SP 14/103 f.24 italic M
2 Tresham, Lady 20/02/1591 Lansdowne Vol/68 f.164 italic F
3 Sydney, Lady Mary 02/06/1572 SP 63/36 f.30 italic (a scribe's?) F
4 Norris, Lady Margery Cecil, William 12/06/1569 SP 70/107/f. 28 italic F
5 Maynard, Lady Lansdowne Vol/91 f.122 mixed F
6 Leicester, Robert Sidney, Earl of, 01/02/1640 Folger X.c.135 italic M
7 Leicester, Robert Dudley 03/08/1588 Folger X.c.126 secretary M
8 Knyvett, Elizabeth Folger L.d.384 italic F
9 Hicks, Lady Elizabeth Lansdowne Vol/93 f.49 italic F
10 Heydon, Anne 23/06/1608 Folger L.d.345 italic F
type of document Language Writer Recipient Date shelfmark type of hand Gender age profession place social status

For a map of where the manuscripts were written, click here