The transcripts provide both a copy of the original text as it is found in the Great Parchment Book, the ‘original transcript’, and also a modernised version, the ‘modern transcript.’ In order to keep the text as clean and readable as possible, the following sigla have been used:
Square brackets [abc] are used in the original transcript to indicate where abbreviations have been expanded. Expansion of abbreviations is not indicated in the modern text.
Italicised text is used to indicate where text has been supplied.
Ellipses […] are used to indicate gaps where the missing text has not been supplied.
Coloured text is used to indicate marginalia.
In the modern transcript, underlined words are defined in the glossary. Hovering over them with the mouse will bring up the definition.
Corrections made by the scribe(s), either through the addition, erasure, or replacement of text, are not indicated. Obvious scribal errors, such as duplicated or missing single words, are silently corrected in the modern transcript. Missing text is supplied where possible, using the rest of the text as a template. However, since the Great Parchment Book contains the only surviving copy of its text, some gaps remain where the missing text is not duplicated elsewhere in the Book.
There are two types of marginalia in the transcripts. The first is found at the start of each grant, in the left-hand margin of the page, and lists the name of the person and the number of the grant. In the transcripts, this text is found immediately before the relevant grant. In the right-hand margin are lists of the conditions attached to the grant, such as the amount of rent, the number of houses and closes to be built, the number of trees to be planted, the acres of land to be encoppiced, and the number of muskets, pikes, corslets, or halberds which must be supplied. In the transcripts, this text is found immediately after the relevant grant, or at the end of the folio on which it is found if the grant continues over to the next folio side. Gaps in the marginalia have been filled in as much as possible; left-hand margin names and numbers are not filled in unless part of the name is legible.
This is a transcript of the text as it is found in the Great Parchment Book, apart from expansions of abbreviations. Spelling and punctuation are as found in the text.
The names of people and places are searchable and are found in the alphabetical index on the site. There are often several variations on the same name within a single charter, and each of these variations is listed in the index, resulting in multiple entries for a single person or place. Each person mentioned in a grant is also distinguished by occupation (eg. weaver, shoemaker, carpenter), familial ties (eg. widow, son, daughter, father, the elder, the younger), or social rank (eg. yeoman, esquire, gentleman, knight). Where these are known, they are added to the person’s entry in the index to help distinguish between people with similar names. In addition, many of the Irish names contain bynames which are included in the surname for simplicity’s sake; for example ‘Mac’ or ‘Mc’ (‘son of’), ‘O’ (grandson or descendent of’), ‘Oge’ (‘young’ or ‘junior’), ‘Duf’, or some version thereof (the Irish ‘Dubh’ or ‘black’), ‘Roe’, or some version thereof, (the Irish ‘Ruadh’ or ‘red’).
Placenames are distinguished according to type where possible (eg. town, city, province, county, parish, townland), since the same name often refers to several types of locations. Where it is unclear as to which type of place the name refers, usually in the case of a parish and townland sharing a name, the type covering the largest geographical area is used.
There are several instances where the names of people and places are not included in the index. The King’s commissioners, Sir Ralph Whitfeld and Thomas Fotherley, have not been included since their names appear in every grant as the signatories. The names of places referring to specific locations where land is held, or to locations where the landholders originate, are included. Placenames used in a more general sense, such as ‘the Exchequer in England’ are not included in the index, nor are the names of rivers and other geographical features.
Spelling and punctuation have been modernised, although the sentence structure of the original text has been largely retained and full stops are added sparingly. Personal names have been modernised as far as possible, but not anglicised. For example, ‘Donnell’ has been modernised to ‘Donal,’ but not anglicised to ‘Donald,’ ‘Sherry’ has been modernised to ‘Sheary,’ but not anglicised to Jeffrey. Current names of places are used where possible. The use of phonetic spelling in the Book, as well as changes in placenames through the centuries, means that the modern and original names may not correspond. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that seventeenth-century boundaries of townlands and parishes correspond to current ones. For example, there are currently two parishes called ‘Cumber Upper’ and ‘Cumber Lower,’ but the Great Parchment Book only refers to ‘Cumber’. In some instances it is possible to distinguish between the two if a townland is referred to that is only in one of them, but this is not always the case. Conversely, what is currently a single area may have been divided in the past. For example, the current townland called ‘Gortcorbies’ was divided into the ‘beg’ and the ‘more’ in the seventeenth century. In these situations where the original placename is not easily substituted, the modern placename is added in square brackets after the original one. In all cases, the use of modern placenames should be regarded as approximate.
The Place Names of Northern Ireland has been used to match modern and original placenames.
Ulster Heritage has been used to modernise surnames.
Library Ireland has been used to modernise forenames.
James Stevens Curl, The Honourable The Irish Society and the Plantation of Ulster, 1608-2000, (Chichester: 2000) has been used for background knowledge of the Plantation.