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Old English "s"

(Spelling, Pg 3)


Untill around the end of the 18th Century, Crossland was written with an Old English long (or leading) "s" followed by an "s" formed as we render it today.  Crosland, on the other hand, was sometimes written with a long (or leading) "s" and other times with an "s" as we write it today.

Images from old Virginia documents


Edward Crossland and Jonas Crosland were brothers.  Edwin Crosslin was a great-grandson of Jonas Crosland.

The long "s" was similar in appearance to a modern day cursive "f", except backward.  When used in conjunction with a regular "s", such as in Crossland, the appearance of the combination was similar to a modern cursive "p".  Crossland, therefore, looked something like Crossland with long s and Crosslin like Crosslin with long s.  The adjacent images, which are from records of Old Virginia, make the point!

With the advent of modern English, the long "s" faded from use.  By the early 1800s, it was no longer in regular use in my family's name, replaced sometimes by a single "s", other times by a double "s".  Since about 1870, my family name has been consistently spelled Crosslin - that is, with a double "s".

Problems have persisted from past use of the old long "s", however.  A few transcribers have sometimes mistakenly rendered the character as an "f" or "p", apparently due to the obvious visual similarity.  This has resulted in spelling renderings such as those below appearing in some transcribed documents -- such as census index publications.



*

Transcription Mistakes:

CroplandCroplin
CroflinCroplen

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The "f" and "p" were transcription mistakes, not spelling variations.  But after the fact, it doesn't make any difference whether the errors were mistakes or variations.  All that is important now is to correctly identify the origin of those renderings: the Old English long (or leading) "s".


Resources



1Reverand William Willie, Register of Albemarle Parish, Surry and Sussex Counties 1739-1778, Library of Virginia Archive.
2Reverand William Willie, Vestry Book of Albemarle Parish, Surry and Sussex Counties, 1742-1787, Part 1, LDS Family History Library microfilm.
3Court Minute Books, Southampton County, Virginia, Library of Virginia and LDS Family History Library microfilm.
4Court Order Books, Surry, Sussex and Southampton Counties, Virginia, Library of Virginia and LDS Family History Library microfilm.

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