A Semi-Diplomatic Transcription of Selections from the John Ward Diaries, vol. 9 (1662-1663), V.a.292

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This article features a semi-diplomatic transcription of selections from Folger Shakespeare Library manuscript V.a.292, volume 9 of the John Ward Diaries (1662-1663). The selections were edited by Emily Fine, Mary Hardy, Tobias Hrynick, Timothy Lundy, Kirsten Mendoza, Colin Rydell, Jenny Smith, Margaret Smith, and William Thompson, who participated in the Mellon Summer Institute in English Paleography at the Huntington Library in July 2016.


What follows are excerpts from the diary of John Ward, vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon from 1662 to 1681. A Royalist and graduate of Oxford, Ward assumed his position shortly after the Restoration and the removal of the preceding Cromwellian vicar Alexander Bean. Before assuming clerical duties, Ward practiced as a medical physician and took in learning continental languages and frequently referenced Dutch biblical translations and religious literature.1
The diary was first held at the Library of the Medical Society of London, at which time Charles Severn first transcribed the manuscript in the mid-nineteenth century, and is now held at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The selections featured here offer examples of the wide variety of subject matter that Ward chose to address in his writings. The scope of topics is diverse: home remedies for common diseases, medical advice, ancient philosophy and ecclesiastical politics, biblical references, commentary on contemporary religious developments, and reflections about the life of William Shakespeare, among other topics.

Physical Description

Folger MS V.a.292 is volume 9 of the 17 original notebooks composed by Rev. John Ward between 1648 and 1679, known as “Ward’s Diary.” 16 of the original 17 are found at the Folger Shakespeare Library MSS V.a.284-299. This specific volume was composed between February 1662 and April 1663, based on a note on leaf 179v. The volume is 179 leaves and is 147 x 90mm. In his article on Ward’s diary, Robert G. Frank notes that “they were originally whole-bound in seventeenth century calf. Notes on the inside front and back covers indicate that Ward used them in these bindings.”2 The initials “I.W.” are stamped in gold on the cover. For more information on the volume, see the Hamnet record at http://hamnet.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=335077.


Following John Ward’s death in 1681, his diaries first appear in the possession of Dr. James Sims, who was president of the Medical Society of London from 1786 to 1808.3 Sims gave his library to the Medical Society in 1802, and the diaries were held at the Society’s library until April 4th, 1928, when they were sold at a Sotheby’s auction to Dr. J.A.S.N. Rosebach for £10,000.4 Henry Clay Folger purchased the diaries from Rosenbach, and they have been in the collection of the Folger Library since its founding in 1932.5

Description of Hand and Scribal Habits

V.a.292 appears to have been composed entirely by the hand of John Ward. This is apparent due to the persistence of certain idiosyncratic scribal practices throughout the document. The folios transcribed in this project were all written between 1661-1663, and exhibit negligible variation in style. The handwriting itself is a mixed cursive hand, exhibiting personalized forms of secretary and italic hands, but with significant divergences that make the hand difficult to decipher at times. In general, Ward's hand is less rounded than typical 16-17th century secretary hands but not as vertical as italic hand. Some letters are reduced to minims or expressed as bumps in connectors, leading one to think that most entries were composed quickly and that the work was for personal reference.

Notable features of the hand

Secretary forms:

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 139r: “one”

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 141v: “uery”
Miniscule "reverse" e and "bucket" r forms are often reduced to a single stem with connectors to preceding and succeeding letters, rendering them quite similar in appearance. In some ways they more closely resemble a right-angle c than their respective letters.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 139v: “true”
Two-stroke e top stroke rarely connects to the bottom stroke, giving the appearance of a stroke floating above the bottom stroke, which is connected to the preceding or succeeding letters. This may lead to confusion over whether a letter is a two-stroke e or another vowel with a tilde over it.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 142v: “pythagoras”
Miniscule o and a forms often consist of a rounded form with connectors, leading them to appear interchangeable, and largely decipherable based on context.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 138v: “whether
Terminal “er” is often represented as a superscripted r that resembles a superscripted sigma e.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 140r: “itt”
Terminal double t often appears as a thick, uncrossed stem connected at the base to the preceding letter. This thickness presumably is a result of two strokes up and down in close proximity to each other.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 138v: “from” Tilde expansions often appear over a vowel (a/e/i/o) to denote the place of a terminal n/m.

Italic/transitional forms:

‎ Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 138v: “hee”
Miniscule h appears with an approach spur but without the "butcherhook" connector.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 138v: “joined”
Ward uses a true miniscule j form in several instances. This is an indication that his hand is moving away from secretary practice of using i for both i/j.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 142v: “Schoolmen”
Miniscule and majuscule s/S forms are rendered as italic/cursive forms, never in double-length secretary forms. Some s forms are very thin, and resemble a slightly slanted stem with a small base loop connector.

Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 142r: “The”
Majuscule T resembles an italic/cursive T with a top cross and a vertical stem with a small base loop connecting to the succeeding letter.

‎ Ward Diaries, vol. 9, fol. 141v: “Court”
Majuscule C is rendered as an overlarge letter, where the ascender loops up and sometimes over the succeeding letter, while the descender goes well below the line and often under one or two of the succeeding letters. Ward does not use the "hot cross bun" secretary form of C.

Editorial Conventions Since Rev. John Ward touches on many subjects, his manuscript notebooks would be interesting for any researcher or student of the seventeenth century but particularly for those interested history, history of medicine, literature, history of printing and the book, and religion. It might also serve as a teaching tool for a paleography course. As such, we have decided on a semi-diplomatic transcription to give students and researchers a soft introduction to John Ward’s style and writing. We attempted to preserve the layout of the individual diary entries to give a feel for the appearance of the folios.

Transcription ToC w/Footnotes


1Diary of the Rev. John Ward, A.M., Vicar of Stratford upon-Avon, ed. Charles Severn (London: Henry Colburn, 1839), 9-16.

2Robert G. Frank, Jr., “The John Ward Diaries: Mirror of Seventeenth Century Science and Medicine” in Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences (1974) 29:2, p. 174.

3Charles Isaac Elton and Andrew Lang, William Shakespeare: His Family and Friends (): 298. D’A. Power, “James Sims, 1741-1820,” rev. Kaye Bagshaw, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), [1] (accessed 29 July 2016).

4Power, “James Sims”; “Notebooks of John Ward,” Folger Library Online Catalog, http://hamnet.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=243763 (accessed 29 July 2016); Elton and Lang, 298; Robert G. Frank, “The John Ward Diaries: Mirror of Seventeenth Century Science and Medicine,” Journal of the History and Allied Sciences 29 (1974) 147-179: 174. Note that there is disagreement on a number of points. The library catalogue of the Medical Society of London incorrectly states that the diaries were sold on April 4th, 1828. Frank states that the diaries were sold at auction to Dr. J.E.S. Rosenbach, the Philadelphia bookseller. However, the Rosenbach who was a Philadelphia bookseller was A.S.W. Rosenbach, and the Folger Library’s catalogue record for the diaries states that the diaries were sold to Dr. J.A.S.N. Rosenbach of New York.

5Frank, “The John Ward Diaries,” 174.

Works Cited

Canes, John Vincent. Fiat Lux or, a general conduct to a right understanding in the great combustions and broils about religion here in England (1661). "celandine, n.". OED Online. June 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.proxy.library.vanderbilt.edu/view/Entry/29399?redirectedFrom=Celondine (accessed July 29, 2016).

Fuller, John http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/24431, accessed 29 July 2016. Bailey, J. E. (1879). "Fuller, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica 9 (9th ed.)

Fuller, Thomas. The Worthies of England (1662).

Harris, Robert. (1580/81–1658) http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12417?docPos=4

Martensen, Robert L., ‘Willis, Thomas (1621–1675)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2007. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29587, accessed 29 July 2016

Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication, ed. John C. Francis. London, 1899.

"pippin, n.". OED Online. June 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com.proxy.library.vanderbilt.edu/view/Entry/144448?redirectedFrom=pippin (accessed July 29, 2016).

Sutton, John, ‘Leigh, Edward (1603–1671)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16378, accessed 29 July 2016.

Willis, Dr. “(1621–1675), physician and natural philosopher” http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29587?docPos=3.

Willis, Thomas, Diatribae duae medico-philosophicae(1659).

Venables, Edmund (1888). "Dolben, John (1625-1686)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 15. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 189. http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/view/article/10456?docPos=1

Hill, Thomas. The Gardeners Labyrinth containing a discourse of the gardeners life. 1528. http://www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/view/article/24110?docPos=2



The full transcription is available here: A Semi-Diplomatic Transcription of Selections from the John Ward Diaries, vol. 9 (1662-1663), V.a.292