Glossary and further information


Follow this link for the latest version of our Glossary, dated May 2022, as a pdf for downloading, searching,  and printing off. This incorporates lists of people mentioned in the text, and of the books and sources which we have used for references. 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

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 have not been able to identify them. Where we do know the meanign a version of the symbol will appear, 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.

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