Handwritten letter
Handwritten letter
In transcribing a business letter written in 1776, I keep finding an apparent abbreviation, 'qsd' with a line over the s, e.g "this to be qsd my brother." Can anyone tell me what this means? The letters are hand-written by William Phelps in London to James Morrissey in Madeira and concern the shipping of wine and other commodities between England and Madeira. William, his brother Joseph and James M were in partnership. I have attached further screen shots.
Handwritten letter

Below are transcriptions of three passages which include the elusive qsd. "The first ten pps was for Mr Thomas Neale to be qsd my Brother, & the nature of his transaction with us, was you see invested in Wheat,…"

"...& write them to the purport of the letter. I shall write by them, where you may amend as you think proper. One for Mr Hemsted you will ship & one for Capn Miller's owner, this latter to be qsd my Brother & included for account & risque as per advice, having his order by me. Mr Hemsted you will write inclosing him bill of lading for it."

"The five pps of Wine shipt by Wylie have qsd over to Mr Morris, wch made a Ballance for the Furniture had by my Brother, for here & Madeira, so we have no Wines coming our account, but those you will have shipt by Forster & Laurie & I hope shall gett rid of all those on hand long ere those arrive."

I feel that it must be a verb, with a meaning such as "charged to" or "consigned to".

  • 2
    Can you give more context? My guess is that "my brother" is a familiar way to refer to the recipient of the letter, and "to be qsd" somehow suggests how the information in the letter should be handled -- perhaps something similar to "on the QT", meaning to keep the information to yourself.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 12:15
  • 8
    ... or maybe "quod sine dictum" (that without mentioning)?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 13:14
  • 2
    I didn't find it in Latin for the Illiterati, a book of common words and expressions, common phrases and familiar sayings, and abbreviations. Sine die (s.d.) means indefinitely. s bar s bar (semis) means one half. s bar doesn't appear, but other searches indicate that it means without, as indicated by @Mick. See <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_medical_abbreviations:_S>. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 13:36
  • 1
    @TomCotton on Latin.SE tells me that is means quod sine dicto (don't wait to be told).
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 16:10
  • 7
    I'd like to see more context, but this looks to me like a nonce-abbreviation for "questioned". Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 17:09

4 Answers 4


From Wikipedia


£sd (occasionally written Lsd) is the popular name for the pre-decimal currencies once common throughout Europe, especially in the British Isles and hence in several countries of the British Empire and subsequently the Commonwealth. The abbreviation originates from the Latin currency denominations librae, solidi, and denarii. In the United Kingdom, which was one of the last to abandon the system, these were referred to as pounds, shillings, and pence (pence being the plural of penny). When spoken it was pronounced "ell-ess-dee", or more commonly "pounds, shillings and pence".

further in the same article

Colloquial terms
... A sixpenny bit was a "tanner" (in Australia a "zack"), one shilling was a "bob", and a pound a "nicker" or a "quid".* The term "quid" is said to originate from the Latin phrase quid pro quo.

It appears the correspondent is discussing financial transactions in qsd or quid, shillings and pence (as against the local currency of Madeira).


There's another page on the subject with some good information and suggestions, and a source stating that the abbreviation was not in widespread official use in that time.


Perhaps the writer was fond of the word "Questioned"... This is to be questioned, my brother. You have much less chance of finding good interpretations if you only post one example in context, as the context is of major importance in all it's instances.

Quis Sicut Deus. "As I said before," quae supra dixi.


You provided the wrong transcription for the first scan. Here is my attempt:

...either lost, or gone to America. Acknowledg'd y' receipt of your two letters the 9 and 20 June, via Port Lorient, wherin you acknowledgd the punctuall pay of the Shopkeepers, & the lessening (?) you had made of Dom: Mander's account, wch was glad to hear. Capn Miller was certainly qs'd us, we had put on Board the undermentioned Articles.

(I can't work out what that y' might mean.)

I suspect that the verb is "qs", pronounced "cue ess", and those macrons are apostrophes. (Or perhaps the macron spans both the q and the s, to indicate an abbreviation?) It is presumably short for something, but I can't work out what; from the context, as you say, it seems to mean "consign to", perhaps as a payment in kind.


Quis ut Deus, qsd, latin probably. See http://latin.dechile.net/?Abreviaturas=61

  • 3
    "Who is like God?" How does that fit the context?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 14:15
  • Afraid that doesn't fit the context at all. It is clearly a verb and must mean something like 'charged to' or 'consigned to'. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 14:28
  • 1
    The tradition was until the last 100 years, for business men to say, when promising to deliver a service or good, to say, "If the Lord will", "If the Lord allow", or the shorter, "Lord willing" a well-known example of this is found in the Bible in James 4:15. In the King James version: "For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." QSD = "Who to God" is a similar phrase. Now, being businessmen, and wanting to save money on ink, will abbreviate common phrases. Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 17:11

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