Page:Archaeologia Volume 13.djvu/173

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on a Barn in Kent, &c.

127

written in English, and where, from the frequent recurrence of numerals, a more concise mode of expressing them would have been preferred had it been commonly known. I will refer you to the petition of the citizens of Winchester, anno 1450—sic in Archaeolog. Vol. I. p. 91—to king Henry the VIth concerning the ruinous state of their houses, in which the number of houses unoccupied were ixc iiij xx and xvii, and which, when published in A chaeologia[1], it was judged advisable for the ease of the reader to mark by the figures 997.

Another presumptive evidence of the no general use of these numerals in marking dates, may be deduced from their not appearing on seals and coins till a long time after Wallis and Ward had pronounced them to have been commonly used. Knowing that Mr. Boys was possessed of many fac similes, it was my request to him that he would be pleased to communicate to me his sentiments on this matter. His answer, in a letter to Dr. Latham, was, "I have examined every probable part of my collection of inscriptions, and all my seals, and can find no instance of Arabic numerals before the commencement of the sixteenth century, except on one seal, an impression of which I mall fend, because I am solicitous to have the inscription decyphered. It is a fine seal, well engraved and preserved, and the letters plain, but I cannot appropriate it. The date is is 1(Symbol missingsymbol characters)8(Symbol missingsymbol characters) (1484) the 4 being represented as half 8, the form then in use; and you are apprized that this form was continued from the middle of the fifteenth to near the middle of the sixteenth century."

From the same motive that Mr. Boys sent me the impression of this seal I shall transmit it to you, not being able to determine to what priory it belonged; though if it be, as I much suspect it is,

  1. Vol. I. p. 91.

a foreign