Spelling in Puritan Times

The writers of court records in Essex County didn’t follow many writing conventions during the early colonial period.  So, we have a variety of spellings found for Richard, Mehitabel, and Joan Braybrooke and Alice Ellis.

Here are some of the variants I uncovered:

Mehitabel, Mehitabell, Mehitable

Joan, Joanne, Joanna

Alice Eliss, Ellis, Eyliss

Braybrooke, Braybrook, Brabrook, Brabrooke, Brabruck

I settled on Mehitabel for the correct spelling as that is how Mehitabel spelled it in a very important letter she signed to the governor of Massachusetts in 1692.

Writers agonize over writing conventions such as spelling and punctuation, but we come to a greater appreciation of them when we struggle with these old documents.