help needed with writing a 16th century document


Well-Known Member
Hi all,

I'm writitng a story, well a number of thing to tie in a few props if made in relation to a fictional witch trial in the Norfolk, UK in 1645 and im writing some diary pages which need to look and sound like the real thng now the physical prop and the aging I can handle as well as the font. its the actual wordage and language i need help with as it would be Old English, which is difficult to read at best, so there will be a Transcript with the the prop but i still need to write it. can anyone help or know of an easy way to translate it into old language.

Sort of Shakespeare english if that helps

Any help or suggestions appreciated. and no jokes about time machines please already had a few of those :)


Well-Known Member
Old English was what the Anglo Saxons spoke, up to around 1100 CE. If you're setting this in the middle of the 17th century then that's when the transition went from Middle English (think Shakespeare) to Early Modern English. At a pinch you could say that the writing was done by someone who still used the older Middle English style, and there are TONNES of 'Shakespeare translators' out there, plus the man himself for some references of course.

I had a quick google and found this: which has some great references for both dictionaries and grammar.

Looking through the grammar is not all that far from what we would write today formally or academically, although what I do notice is that there are no Ses and instead words are written with an F - or the author had a lisp!

The very first English dictionary was made in 1604, the British Library have a good article about it here - The excerpts are still very similar to a modern formal style - still with a lisp though :D There's also a nice handwritten letter about Guy Fawkes, it makes pretty much perfect sense it sounds a bit overly formal (almost legal). Interesting in hand writing there are Ses! I should have scrolled a bit more, there is even a witch entry from 1647 which might help: You can probably find the whole book digitised on the BL if not somewhere else.
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New Member
If helpe yet stil be needed then reply unto this message moste direct by the hand of this gentilman, olde yet trustie. Translacion to the scrip of this, the 20the Yeare of the Reigne of Our Sovereigne King, Charles Stuart, (beinge the current year of our Lorde One Thousand Six Hundred Forty Five) is entire possible, evene unto the fulle inclusion of the Median S, wrongfullye attributed above.

I pray you commend me too yor leyman, and I remain yor constant servaunt and ffrind.

(PS I perform professionally in a living history museum, and can do this sort of thing straight off the top of my head.)


Active Member
I ran the original post through an online converter...

Good morrow all,

i'm writitng a st'ry, well a numb'r of thing to tieth in a few props if 't be true madeth in relation to a fictional beldams trial in the n'rfolk, uk in 1645 and im writing some diary pages which needeth to behold and soundeth liketh the real thng anon the physical prop and the aging i can handleth as well as the font. its the actual w'rdage and language i needeth holp with as t wouldst beest fusty english, which is sore to readeth at most wondrous, so th're shall beest a transcript with the the prop but i still needeth to writeth t. can anyone holp 'r knoweth of an easy way to translateth t into fusty language.

s'rt of shakespeare english if 't be true yond helps

any holp 'r suggestions appreciat'd. and nay jokes about timeth machines prithee already hadst a few of those

English to Shakespearean Translator ― LingoJam