Glossary and further information


Follow the link below for our current glossary, available as a pdf for downloading and searching,  and for printing off. This is a work in progress, which will be edited updated as the transcription process goes on. It incorporates a list of people mentioned in the text, and there is also a list of Books and Sources, which is a list of the books and websites we have used for references, and for explanations about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century medicine and cookery. If you make use of any of these elsewhere, please acknowledge us as your source.

We have provided references in the Glossary where possible, to allow you to explore further. The most useful one is the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online. You can subscribe as an individual, or many local libraries also subscribe and you can use your library card number to log-in. (Or if you are a student, your institution may subscribe).

You will see that many of the entries say ‘not known’. If you

  • track down the answer to one of these, or
  • find a word (or a variant spelling) which is not in the glossary but should be, or
  • discover a source we have not yet discovered, please send us an e-mail, at

Glossary 15 July 2020

Books and Sources 26 May 2019

Some of the comments without  references have been provided by expert Marie Addyman, to whom much thanks.

Apothecaries’ and Astrological symbols

A number of pages use apothecaries’ and astrological symbols, often in Potter’s own distinctive handwriting. Some are clear, while others are obscure and we are in the process of identifying them. Currently, a symbol will appear as (for instance) &ounce;. When the coding for the website is complete, a version of the symbol will appear instead, with the explanation of it floating  beneath, as with abbreviations.

This is the undeciphered quantity symbol: ?


Potter varies (probably depending on what source he is copying) between using Arabic (modern) numerals, and Roman ones. When using the Roman system, if the last letter in a number is ‘i’, it is usually written as a ‘j’. (This was usual, and was done to prevent tampering with the number, according to Wikipedia)

So i – one; ij – two; iij – three; iiij – four.

x – ten, so xxiiij is twenty four.

Back to Introduction