Casefile Clues

11 October 2013

It's a Rich Document--Transcribing Creatively

I know the name of the person in the box is not "Bitchard" Lake, although it certainly looks like it. It's also not how I'm going to transcribe it.

When transcribing a document, a certain amount of license is taken. Reasonable license that is.One has to be true to the original and it's intent. That's why I'm going to transcribe the first name of the first signer as "Ritchard" and not as "Bitchard." One could easily make the case that the first letter is an "R" and that the writer simply connected the bottom "tail" a little more than usual. The fact that's there is no such name as "Bitchard" also is consistent with this conclusion.

I usually transcribe the "his" and "mark" in a line above and  below where I type the actual signature and include the "x" in between "Richard" and "Lake." 
The name of "Lake" is spelled in two ways in the document, "Lak" and "Lake." It's probably oversight on the part of the person writing out the document. Richard didn't write out the document given that he made his mark on it. From the handwriting of the witnesses, it seems reasonable that Julius Jenkins probably wrote the letter for Lake and Beesly to sign.

Transcription, like document analysis, is not always an exact science and there's a certain amount of "creative" element to it. One must be careful how one interprets the use of  "creative" in this sense. Creative in this case is thinking outside the box, not in the sense of making things up. The ability to judiciously use the "creative" element cf transcription comes from practice and from reading document after document.

Who Wrote this Document?

I'm not certain, but the signature of Julius Jenkins is similar to the handwriting of the document, making it appear he was the actual writer.

Jenkins was the maiden name of Lake's wife and is a probable relative. However, that's not even vaguely indicated by this document (there's no law that relatives have to write things). The fact that Jenkins probably made out the document only indicates that he was trusted to make it out correctly. He may have been one of the "nearby" kin who was familiar enough with how such letters should be written and so he "got the job." He could just as easily have been more closely related to Beesly than to the Lakes or not "related" to anyone else on the document at all.

And it goes without saying that all these individuals were associates of one another in some way.

Whether they were related is another matter entirely.