A new Victorian-set British novel begins sentences containing h-dropping with lower-case e's, as in " 'e took my money, 'e did." This seems incorrect but I'm at a loss to find the rule.
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I don't think anybody would ever write
with a small 't' (although sometimes the apostrophe is dropped here). I've checked some websites, and they all use a capital 'T'. And the title of John Ford's play is usually written
with a capital 'T'. So I would say the rule is to capitalize the initial letter even if the sentence starts with an apostrophe.
And here is an example from the year 1897 which not only capitalizes the E in 'E, but also capitalizes the A in 'Allelujahs:
The punctuation at the beginning looks a little awkward, with a left quote followed by an apostrophe, but that's the way they did it.
When it appears in the speech of a character, it just tries to show the accent of the particular character which deviates from the standard British one. There is no rule involved in the language spoken at that time. As to whether this is correct in terms of printing, I think there's nothing wrong with the lower case of the "e" here once the initial letter is dropped; the apostrophe marks the absence of "h".
I would follow the style where capitalisation is done as if the apostrophe is absent and the word begins with the first of the remaining letters.
(examples taken from Larry Trask's Guide to Punctuation)
Although commonly misstated, that is, stated in a simplified form such as "capitalize the first word of a sentence", the "rule" that applies in the circumstance you've described was originally a printing convention termed 'sentence case'. That convention has in modern times transferred, for the most part silently, to typographical media other than printing, for example, typographical web content presented via a browser rather than via the printed page.
'Sentence case', given full expression, is the convention that the first letter of the first word of a sentence is capitalized, while any remaining letters in the sentence are capitalized according to more specific rules pertaining to proper nouns, acronyms, etc. An apostrophe is not a letter, so a sentence beginning with an apostrophe has the first letter following the initial apostrophe capitalized, by convention. As explained in The London School of Economics and Politics Web Editors' Handbook,
(From The London School of Economics and Politics Web Editors' Handbook, "Best practice guide". Emphasis mine.)
Various deviations from the 'sentence case' convention may be encountered in publications using in-house style rules. Typically, however, the deviation will be in whether and when 'sentence case' is used for headings or section titles. Deviation from the convention for the example you've given, where an omitted letter (the aitch) is replaced by an apostrophe at the beginning of a sentence, is rare, although it may be encountered. Thus, the usual but not invariable practice is to use 'sentence case' for the given circumstance:
Historically, deviations from the 'sentence case' convention may be more common in examples drawn from earlier periods during the development of the 'sentence case' printing convention.
Your difficulty discovering the "rule" governing capitalization of a sentence with a sentence-initial apostrophe might have been the result of the "rule" being a type of "Purloined Letter" mystery: the "rule", more properly described as a convention, is in plain sight, and thus hidden. It is a basic convention of English typographical material, and finds expression in most style guides. For example,
(From the OECD Style Guide, page 66.)
Similar capitalization 'rules' are given in most thorough style guides.
Additional difficulty in discovering the "rule" may have arisen from a failure to recognize that apostrophes used to indicate a letter has been omitted are not themselves letters in the English alphabet, but rather are considered signs or marks.
["apostrophe, n.2". OED Online. March 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/9449 (accessed April 23, 2016). Emphasis in definition mine.]
Thus, an 'apostrophe' is contrasted with a 'letter'. Apostrophes are not part of the 26-character English alphabet:
["letter, n.1". OED Online. March 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/107545?rskey=GPGcAh&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed April 23, 2016).]
The pertinent part of the denotation of 'alphabet':
["alphabet, n.". OED Online. March 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/5693?rskey=TS1aBu&result=1&isAdvanced=false (accessed April 23, 2016).
In this case, you're dropping the H from a pronoun. I think the answer to this question lies in the way we treat proper nouns. When H-dropping a proper noun we never capitalize the letter following the H:
From the above, I would suggest that the correct way to H-drop the sentence "Henry stole my apple." would be as follows:
Which leads me to conclude that replacing the noun with a pronoun, from a grammatical perspective, follows suit:
Welcome to EL&U. Since the sentence wouldn't begin with a small 'e' in normal prose, there's no reason why it should do so when it replicates speech. The ' stands in place of the missing 'H' at the beginning of the sentence and in place of 'h' before did. Some publishers may choose to print it as 'E took my money, 'e did, but I think there is a stronger argument for the version which you report.