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The Collation

Pirates, hats, herring, and iron pots! The case of Captain Thomas Hubbard

When we get to “deposition day” in paleography class, one of the manuscripts that the students usually transcribe is Folger MS L.d.673, in which one John Bartholomew confesses to buying six iron pots, but no hats. Bartholomew states that he purchased the pots from one “Captaine Hubbart,” “before the bringinge in of the last two prises.”

John Bartholomew's examination

Folger MS L.d.673: The examination of John Bartholomew, taken September 4, 1576.

It is so short and so without context that the students don’t know what to make of it, and often don’t trust their initial reading of “pottes” and “hattes” and “prises.” When I tell them that the deposition is actually about pirates, they are still circumspect. After all, this isn’t the sort of swashbuckling piracy to which we are accustomed. The full story is a bit more action-packed, however: the deposition is part of the Bacon-Townshend collection, and many details can be gleaned by consulting other documents related to the Hubbard case. So last summer, one group of paleography students transcribed all eight depositions relating to Captain Thomas Hubbard’s piracy. 

  1. Exactly a year ago (in a post from October 2012) I mentioned that I would share this edition: sorry for the delay!
  2. Note that this is the last of our PDF editions: as the result of an IMLS grant that begins in December 2013, future paleography class projects will be true digital editions, tagged in TEI and available through Hamnet, finding aids, and a database: Early Modern Manuscripts Online. And past PDF editions will be converted as well.

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