Some great finds for the OED

uncaple – eye-skip, or a new form for the OED?

@parsfan was transcribing a letter from 1715, summing it up as “Basically, a complaint by some Warwick Innkeepers that they haven’t been paid for four months for quartering a troop of Dragoons”. There’s an unusual spelling “uncaple”, which appears at the beginning of the second line here:

three lines of text from a letter

Lines from letter in the Collection of Items relating to the Borough and Parish of Warwick, England, Folger MS: X.d.2 (100)

The word clearly means “uncapable”, and at first glance, this perhaps looks like a case of eye-skip, someone skipping ahead to the second “a”, which seems especially plausible as the letter gives the impression of being written in something of a hurry. However, a bit of further sleuthing shows “uncaple” also occurs in a 1629 quotation already in the OED, and there appear to be a number of further examples in the Early English Books Online database of digitized early modern printed books. So, although a lot more research work will be needed, it looks like we may well be onto an addition for the OED here.

An image of the full letter is below, and more information about this manuscript from the Folger catalog may be found here.

Full image of letter

Full image of letter, MS Folger: X.d.2 (100)

the tolfte of November

@mutabilitie spotted this interesting spelling of twelfth as tolfte:

lines from a letter

Lines from a letter in the Papers of the Bagot Family of Blithfield, Staffordshire, Folger MS: L.a.586

It comes from a letter from Francis Kynnersley, written in Badger in Shropshire, to Walter Bagot, circa 1620. We’ve not yet found other Early Modern examples of this spelling, but the Linguistic Atlas of Later Medieval English records some similar forms – and, very interestingly, they come from Shropshire, just like this letter. So often you find that when you start to put together isolated bits of information like this, an interesting pattern begins to emerge, and we learn a bit more about the history of English.

Again, an image of the full letter page is below, and information from the catalog record may be accessed here.

Full image of letter

Full image of letter, Folger MS: L.a.586

by Philip Durkin (@PhilipDurkin), Deputy Chief Editor, Oxford English Dictionary

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