"Secretary hand is a style of European handwriting developed in the early sixteenth century that remained common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for writing English, German, Welsh and Gaelic.
Predominating before the dominance of Italic script, it arose out of the need for a hand more legible and universally recognizable than the book hand of the High Middle Ages, in order to cope with the increase in long-distance business and personal correspondence, in cities, chanceries and courts. The hand thus used by secretaries was developed from cursive business hands and was in common use throughout the British Isles through the seventeenth century. In spite of its loops and flourishes it was widely used by scriveners and others whose daily employment comprised hours of writing. By 1618 the writing-master Martin Billingsley distinguished three forms of secretary hand, as well as "mixed" hands that employed some Roman letterforms, and the specialised hands, the "court hand" used only in the courts of the King's Bench and Common Pleas and the archaic hands used for engrossing pipe rolls and other documents."