Appendix: Comparative Orthography, Hand D and Oxford’s Letters

Oxfordians who mock the spelling “Shaksper” ought to look more closely at Lord Oxford’s letters. An e to him is merely a decorative element, to be put on and off like a jewel in his hat, as the fancy takes him. He writes lat, late, and latte, or hop, hope, and hoope indifferently. “Sake” is sak and slake is “slack.” On the contrary, Shakespeare makes distinctions: made is not mad, and warrs are not wares. If Hand D is evidence, he is rather sparing of superfluous terminal “e”s; whereas Oxford lavishes them on the smallest words: he writes I ame, frome, hade, hathe, and even ofe. Words ending in “ion” or “ing” or “eth” almost always get the final flourish of an “e.” One in three of the words in his letters is so ended; in More and the Quartos, the count is one in five. Shakespeare distinguishes u/v from w; Oxford does not, leading to such striking spellings as lavers, dravne, knev, hawe, vove. His predeliction for ow is evident throughout his orthography, in habitual spellings like wowld and thowght and howld—indeed, he uses that digraph over twice as frequently as Shakespeare does in Sir Thomas More: in 5.4% of words to 2.3%. Oxford spelled as he spoke, so dialect variants such as leke for “like,” and vulgarisms like oft for “ought” naturally appear in his letters. Almost every word in Hand D can be mismatched with a dissimilar spelling in the letters: some variants exceptional or sparse; but others, like wowld, leke, tyne, laue/lave, all but invariant, and totally unknown in Shakespeare’s works.

It has not been possible to hand-count every difference between Shakespeare’s and Oxford’s glossaries. Where counts have been done, the dark red cells indicate Oxford’s signature spellings (80-100% usage); light red, common spellings (40-79% usage). Purple cells mark several of Oxford’s distinctive variants: not his commonest, but very rare in print. Exceptional spellings for each writer are in red under Hand D, and in blue under Oxford.

Hand D Oxford
Short a for WS long a


made [2]

make [3], shake

name [3]

spane, tane

babes, babyes, Safes, safer, shape

cas, casse [2]

mad [=made]

sak [=sake]

becam, cam [3]


carfully [4], incoragment [2]

state, maiestrate abatte [2], datte, estatte, gratfull [3], importunat, innovat, lat [=late 2], latly(e) [3], latte [2], lattly, nominat [2], rat, ratte(s) [=rate(s), 5], recreat, reiteratte, relat, statte [2], vngratfull
Short e for WS long e

breed, feed, needs, proceed


keep(es) [2]

adheres, meerly

be [9], beeff, kneele, me [4], see [2], we [6], wee, weele [4]

inded, ned [= need, 2]



her to fore [=heretofore], herafter [15], herby(e) [4], herof(e) [2],

releus [=relieves], steple [=steeple]

seek(e) leklier, leklihode, lekly(e) [5], leklywhodes, lekwise [12]
Short e for WS long ea bere(s) [=bears, 2], eate, entreate, hear, heare [9], leade [2], meale, peace [17], perceaue, speake(s) [3], teares aferd [=afeared], cler(ly) [2], eschet [2], eschette [1], nerly
Short i for WS long i desyres, knyves, my [4], mynds, nyne, ryse, tymes, whiles aduertis(ment) [4], lickinge [=liking], ocupid [=occupied], satisfis [=satisfise, satisfy], sid [=side], spitfull, tryffell
Short o for WS long o abode, both [5], grote, knowe, loff [=loaf], sowles, throne, throtes, throts grotte [2], hop [2], impos [2], suppos, wrott [=wrote, 2]
Short u for WS long u

procure, nature


procur, coniectur [2], leisur,

abus, pervs [=peruse], tusday

conclud [3], exclud, frut, frutfull, frutles, imput [3], prosecut [2], sut, swt [=suit, 12, 2]

Long a for WS short a



had [4]




add, alas [3], ampler, appropriat, at [4], captaine, desperat, flanders, maisters, master(s) [3]

bake [=back, 10]

cane [5]

hade [17]

mane [=man, 2]

pase [=pass]

ware(s) [=war(s), 3]

ame [=am, 9], bare(s)[=bar(s), 10], crosebare, fare [=far, 6], glade [3], hape(s) [3], hapens, pakets, paste [=past], perhapes [7], quarell, shypwrake, slabes [5], slake [=slack], stare [=star], thane [=then, therefore], totale, tryales [2], Walthame

Long e for WS short e

men [4]

Bett(s) [8], lets [2], Lett, letts [2], sett, whett

penny, prentisses [3], prentizes, rebell(s) [4], red, tell [3], well

takene, tene [=ten]


excheker [3], exprese, forene [=foreign], hundrede [7], reken. rekeninge, steed [=stead]

Long i for WS short i

bid, Chidd, did, forbid, hiddious

Credyt, Submyt

him [10]

slipp, parsnyp(s) [2], thipp [=the hip]


Cytty [3], forgyven, lyst, lyve, symple [3], still [2], sytt

dyde [=did]

admite, benefite, benifite(s) [18], benifited, benyfite [2], benyfyte, commite [2], credite [4], forfited, forfyted, fyles [=fills], infenite, meite(s) [2], profite(s) [10], vnfite

hime [2], hyme [=him 2]

slipe, slype

friendshipe(s) [4], keepershipe, lordshipe(s) [37], lordshype [3], shypes, wardshipes

Berwike, sithe [5], sixe, smythe, styke [=stick], syke [=sick], syxe [2], trafike

sinn, ymagin

tyne(s) [=tin 145], tynemaster

begine [4], Robine, Skiners

Long o for WS short o Doll [3], doggs, gospell, gott [2], not [14] cofers [8], crose [3], crosebare, frome [= from 54], ode [=odd], stope [2]
blokes [19], cloke [=clock, 3], cofers [8], cokescome, crose [3], crosebare, floke, frome [= from 54], stoke(s) [=stock(s), 23], stope [2]
EO one for WS on



pardone [8]

seasone [9], treasones

abandone, comparisone [3], Ihone [=John, 5], Londone [4], lyone, persone(s) [15], sone [6], therone [2], vpone [12], whearone, wherone, whervpone

Essendone, Essingdone, Hamptone(s) [10], Hattone [2], Havltone, Havtone, Herdsone, Keltone, Mid(d)eltone(s) [7], Myddel(l)tone(s) [4], Northamptone

Long u for WS short u


Arther, Arthur, spurne, Surrey [5], Sury

com, Come, Coms, comand, Comaund [2], Wisdome [2]

thus [2]

Comforts, Countrey, Countreymen [2], Countrie, Country [2], cutt, much [2], must, nvmber, Submyt, such [3], vp [4], vs [4]

rufe [=rough]

Arthure, spures

cumes [=comes], blossumes,


begune, iuge [=judge 10], rune(s) [=run(s), 8], sune(s) [=son(s), 10], tune [= tun]

[some; sum Q] sume [=some 98], sumeone, sumes [=sums, 4], lothsume, troblesume [9]
a for WS ai


straing, straingers [6], straungers


strange [6], stranger(s) [17], stranglye, strangnes

EO aale for WS all, aule


shall [2]

al, all [14], braule, enstalls, palsey [2], portigall, quallyfy

caald, caale

shale [=shall]

Cornwaale [Cf. Waales, 2], Cornwale [7], faal(e) [=fall 3], fales, haales [2], smaale [2], smale [10]

EO all for ale sall [=sale], salles
EO e for WS ea

geat, togeather

himsealf, sealf [4], sealues

hearing [=herring]

aleage, alleage(d) [3], altogether [2], to gether [3], together, forget [10], forgett [2], forgettfull, get [5], gett(es) [11], getter

self(e) [139], selfwill, selues [11], seluf, themselues [12], herself [6], himself(e) [19], miself, myself [5]

EO e for WS i/y lyke [5] disleke, dislekinge, leeke, leke(s) [21], leket [=liked], lekinge [7], leklier, leklihode, lekly(e) [5], leklywhodes, lekwise [12], misleke(e) [4], misleked, mislekes, senister [=sinister]
aucthoryty [2] authorite &c. [158], authoritie &c. [4] , quantetie [4], quantety(e) [7]
EO i/y for WS e be [9], me [4]

byfolde [=befooled], mithink [=methinks], my thowght [methought]

betwien(e) [13], betwyne, bin(e) [=been 4], briche [=breech], cosine [=cozen, cheat], imbassadour(es) [3], leuide [=levied], sildommer [=seldomer?], wikes [=weeks]

EO oo for WS o [o:]

both [5]

go [2], no [10], o [2], so [2]


abode, sowles, throne, throtes, throts

Moor [16], moore [2], more [pers. name]

boothe [12]

goo [15], noo [10], soo [18], sooever

groot [1]

hoole [=hole], hoop(s) [=hope 2], hoope(s), hoopinge, [9], loo [=low], loode [=load], moo [=mo(re)], moore [17], mooreover [2], moost [2], noot(es) [=note 6], prooceede, restoore, Roo [=Row],whoole [17], whoolye, wroot(e) [=wrote 2]

EO oo for WS o woord(es) [18], woordlye, woorste, woorthe

do [7], doon [=done]

who, whose

doo [118], done [43], don [1], donne [1]

whoo [44], whome [35], whoome, whoose

EO o for WS oo [u:] choose, moorne, rootes, rule [4] byfolde [=befooled], singouler [=singular], tropes [=troops]
EO o for WS u, short oo

look, stood


vnloktfor, vnderfotte


Brother [2]

broother [6], moother


of of [26] ofe [3], offe [1], herofe, theareofe, thearofe, therofe [12], theroffe[1], whereofe [5]
EO ow for WS oo coold [2], shoold [5], woold [8] cowld [17], could [18], showld(e) [121], showldbe [4], should(e) [2], sowlde, wowld(e) [106], wowldbe, would
EO owld/ould for WS old hold [3], told behouldinge [4], behowld, behowldinge [9], bould, boulder. bouldly [2], bowld(e)[5], bowldest, bowldlier, copihoulders, gould, gowlden, hould [2], houshould, houshowlds, howld(es)[5], howlden, howldinge, howledinge, howshowld, ould, owld(e) [7], sould [=sold 3], sowld(e) [=sold 18], tould, towld(e) 10], vnfould
EO oy for y [Cf. noyce, troy, voyce] priuoyte, pryvoy(e) [=privity, privy, 2]
EO u/v for w lawe laue [4], laufull(y) [3], lav, lave [34], laver(s), owtlavrie [=outlawry 2], vnlaufull [Cf. Lauenhame=Lavenham]
drave(s) [=draw(s) 10], dravethe, dravinge, dravne [=drawn 5], drue, feve [=few 2], knev [=knew], reneve [=renew], save [=saw], vove [=vow]
EO w for u/v & we for ew

haue [10]


trewe [3]

hawe [=have]

dowghter(s) [3], dowt(es) [23], dowtethe, mowthe, owt(e) [58], owtlavrie, owtwardes, withowt, yowse [=use], yowthe

trwe [17], trwithe [2], trwly

assewred [=assured], bwy(es) [=buy(s) 8], bwyer, bwyinge [3], bwylt [=built], bwyrd [bird], dwe [4], swt(es) [=suit(s) 23], swter(s) [3], valwe, yeu [=give]

you [58], youle [2], your [6], yor [13], our [5] yow [301] , yowe [9], yowre [556], yowr [16], yowres [7], youre [1], owre [15]
WS c for t adicion, infeccion, transportacion [never]
WS ct for t aucthoryty [2] authorite [9], authoritie [1]
EO de/te for WS d/t Charterd, clothd, lyvd, pleasd, quelld, ruld, sufferd, topt, vsd, willd aduertisde, disposeste, grievde, promisde, satisfisde [=satisfied 5]
EO -ede for -ed aged, detested, infected [2], owed, remoued, wretched abusede, allowede [2], callede, considerede, deceasede, deceyvede, destroyede, disposede [3], experiencede, fearede, gaynede, performede, pleasede, ponderede, preferrede, provede, ratede, raysede, repeatede, rootede
aught taught doughter(s) [5]
EO gh: ough/ought




brought, wrought

allthough, allthowghe, although, althoughe [3], althowgh(e) [15], thoughe [3], thowghe [9], allthought [2], althought, thowght [3], thought [2], althoth(e) [2]

thought [9], thowgh, thowght [33], thowghte [2]

through, throughly, throw, throwgh(e) [13], throught [5], throwght [2]

enough inoughe [2], inought [2], inowghe [3]
rough rufe, rufly(e) [2]
ought/oft [ought] oft(e) [7]
EO ough for ou



dought [6], doughted, doughtfullye, doughtinge, vndoughtedly

ought [10], wytheought, wythought

EO ight for it(e) quyte (Cf. right) aquighted [=acquitted], quight [2], wright [5], wrightinge [8], wryght [2], wryghtinge
EO -inge

breaking, doing, eating [2], hearing, plodding, removing, rysing, saying, shillings, vndoing, vrging

bring, king(s) [7], kinge, thing(s) [4]

acceptinge, &c. [259]; accordinglie, &c. [37]

bringe [25], kinge(s) [8], everythinge, nothinge [39], sumthinge(s) [11], sumthynge, thinge(s) [56]

EO -ione adicion, infeccion, mediation, nation, opynions, proclamation, question, supposytion, transportacion, ynnovation actione, &c. [253], actions, &c. [71]
WS -nc for -nce audience, obedienc [3], obedyenc, ffraunc, insolenc, province, violence

france [3], fraunce [3] + 185 -nce

prince [10], princlie, princlye [2]

WS -nck banck, thanck, thinck anker, blank, drunke, mithink, prankes, thank(es) [18], thankfull, thankfulnes, thankfuly, thankinge, think(es) [41], thinkethe [2], thinkinge [4], thynke [8]
EO -rck mark(e) [3], shark marckes
WS sc- for s- scilens, sylenct, silnes [sic] (Cf. discipline) silence, silently, sylence
WS mono, EO disyll. shreef, shreeve, Shreiff, Shreiue, Shreue, shrevaltry sherife [2], sheryfe [2]
EO -the with with, within, etc. [172]; wyth, wythought, etc. [15]; wythe, notwythestandinge, thearwythe, wytheought, etc. [84]; whearwithe, etc. [52]
EO -the hath [4] hathe [182], hatthe

there, ther, thers

where, wherin

thear(e) [21], thearabout, theareofe. theares, thearfore, thearin, thearofe, thearwythe

whear(e) [13], whearas [22], whearat, whearby, wheareas, whearfore [5], whearin [8], whearof [4], whearone, whearvpon, whearwithe

EO y for i/j inyoy [=enjoy]
Notable accept dept [=debt]
afoord afford
another an other [26]
aucthoryty [2]
babes slabe(s) [= slabs 5]
bloody bludd [3], bludde [1], bloode [1]
boy [302], boyes [21], boies [5] Q boij
certainly certeyn(e) [23], certeine [3], certayne [1]
Charg, charge larglie
dung [2] (Cf. strong) tonge, yong (Cf. stronge [2], wronge(s) [4])
fower, power fowre [39] foure [1], fourpence [1], fowrtene [1], powre [4]
freind(s) [2], frends [1] friend(es) [75], freend(es) [4], frend [1]
gentlemen gentelman [3], gentelmen [2], gentellman [1]
halfpence, halfpeny [Q] halfpennie, halpenie [5], halpennie(s) [7], halpenny(e) [15], halpens, halpeny(e) [6]
hart sterue [=starve]
has hathe [182], hath [3], hatthe
Iarman (Cf. Maiestie) Germanie [2] (Cf. Magestie)
Ingland [2] England(e) [41], English(e) [3]

Iugge [F; Q, Iug=common name for a woman, “a term of disparagement’] (Cf.

iugling, iuggler, vs. iudge, iudgment Q]

iugges [=judges 9], iuge [=judge 10], iugment [3], iugged [=judged] (Cf. iuggel, iuglinges =juggled, jugglings)
levenp<enc>e (Cf. ”leven wether” WT)
lugage Luggate [=Ludgate]
oft [=often] oft [=ought]
passe gresse [=grass]
vppon [3] vpon [85], vpone [12]
waight streyght(er) [3], weyghinge, weyght(es) [71], weygthe(s) [5], weight [1]
what [12], whats whatt [24]
which [4] whiche [187]