you ever wondered why on some of the early documents a man will
make "his (x) mark" on one document and then sign the
next one? Many were literate but still made their mark and this
mark could mean something more than perhaps a middle name. Example:
John (H) Burnett.
My little dictionary gives the meaning of a "rune:"
= "any of the characters of an alphabet used by the ancient
writings; a mark having some mysterious meaning or magical powers
attributed to it..."
The ancient writings are filled with "his/her mark"
of various designs, shapes and sizes. In the case where a letter
of the alphabet was used, such as a "H"(or some other
initial), it was probably a rune of some sort used as a "mark"
by those who could not write their name or who DID NOT WISH TO
DO SO. It is a mistake to think that some of those who resort
to a "mark" on legal documents are not literate and
can not write. Some turn out to be literate persons but who sign
with a mark and then seal it with a signet ring.
the "seal" impression on a ring does not carry the initial
or rune that distinguishes the one using it. Inherited signet
rings are an example. If a man was heir to his father's signet
ring and his father was named Henry or carried some other name
beginning with an H, then he may have had his ring designed with
an H. In such a case that initial served also his heir even if
there was no letter H in his name. It is little things like this
that make people of a different age so difficult to study. Buried
in this tradition of borrowed rings is the one of borrowed names.
common in colonial America for the eldest son to be named after
his paternal grandpa but not all did so and NOT ALL infants lived
to adulthood. If we only knew the names of those infants who did
not live, it would answer many questions and mysteries that plague
us in determining who was who.
Names from the second and third generations back beg to be used
again in the newly born. It is almost as if there were a frantic
attempt to "brand" each infant into the family by name
identification. Lotsa, Lotsa Burnetts in American history, branded
there for all to see, and a reminder that they share a common
blood with a man who once dwelt on the Rappahannock in the 17th
century.. The ring is lost, but the names were still used over
and over as a brand identifying new babes.
The Saxon rune for the "-th" sound was a mark that some
say resembled the letter Y, hence the English word THE was still
written in colonial days with the rune Y and became YE in the
early texts and signboards for Ye Olde Tavern. Those people were
much closer to the middle ages than we, and their habits and writing
reflect that. Ye in colonial script is simply the word THE but
written in runic symbols. My little dictionary, under the word
rune, displays a number of early English runes.