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


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]



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, wryte [=writ]

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], 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 [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


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


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




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]



inoughe [2], inought [2], inowghe [3]



rufe, rufly(e) [2]



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


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, 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]



dept [=debt]






an other [26]


aucthoryty [2]




slabe(s) [= slabs 5]



bludd [3], bludde [1], bloode [1]


boy [302], boyes [21], boies [5] Q




certeyn(e) [23], certeine [3], certayne [1]


Charg, charge



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]



gentelman [3], gentelmen [2], gentellman [1]


halfpence, halfpeny [Q]

halfpennie, halpenie [5], halpennie(s) [7], halpenny(e) [15], halpens, halpeny(e) [6]



sterue [=starve]



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)




Luggate [=Ludgate]


oft [=often]

oft [=ought]



gresse [=grass]


vppon [3]

vpon [85], vpone [12]



streyght(er) [3], weyghinge, weyght(es) [71], weygthe(s) [5], weight [1]


what [12], whats

whatt [24]


which [4]

whiche [187]