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Melissaís Myriad

Genealogy Dictionary

(This dictionary is still under construction. If you do not find the word or phrase you are looking for, please e-mail it to me, and I will try to find it. If you would like to add a pertinent word or phrase, please e-mail it, it's definition, and your name if you would like credit for the submittal.)


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Ab--In the Jewish calendar: The eleventh month of the civil year or the fifth month of the ecclesiastical year (July and part of August); In the Syrian calendar: The twelfth or last summer month (August)
abatement--1) The difference between the amount of the estate an heir is to receive as specified in a will and the amount actually received, due to property devaluation between the time the will was made and when the death occurred; the entry of a stranger into the estate after the death of the possessor but before the heir can take control. 2) In heraldry, a mark of dishonor in a coat of arms. The most common was the point and gore, which cut off an angle on the shield and was awarded for lying, boasting, drunkenness, killing a prisoner who had surrendered, rape, and sloth in war.
abavus--(Latin) second great-grandfather
abdominal typhus--A type of typhus fever identified by bluish spots appearing on the abdomen a few days after the disease is contracted.
abeyance--The condition of an estate which has either 1) been claimed but not taken possession of, or 2) of which is liable to be claimed by someone.
abeyd--abide (England before colonization of America; colonial New England)
ab nepos--(Latin) great-great-grandson
ab neptis--(Latin) great-great-granddaughter
Abraham Man--(originally) A lunatic of Abraham Ward, Bethlehem Hospital, London, England, who was allowed to beg in the streets; (16th and 17th century England) A vagabond beggar, usually feigning lunacy, who wandered the countryside-especially after the dissolution of the religious houses.
abruptio--(Latin) "breaking off"; a divorce, most often found in church records, parish books and legal documents.
abstract book--A land record containing condensed information, usually listing the names of land purchasers chronologically, and is kept in the district land offices or with the Bureau of Land Management.
Acadian--(1) An inhabitant of Acadia (Nova Scotia); (2) A descendant of French settlers of Acadia who live in Louisiana (i.e. Cajuns)
acre-dale--A common field in which several proprietors held interest, not always on an equal basis
acre-man--(Middle English) A man who ploughed or cultivated the land.
ad exhaeredationem--(Latin) to disinherit
adoption by hair--A ceremony performed to show adoption by cutting off a piece of hair and giving it to the adoptive father.
adventurer--One who bought shares in the Virginia Land Company, at 12 pounds 10 shillings each, and received 100 acres in Virginia. (See Virginia Company of London)
agistment tithe--The tithe of cattle or other produce of grasslands paid to a vicar or rector.
almsman--(Victorian England) Someone supported by charity or one who lived on alms
ahnentafel--(1) German for "the genealogical table"; (2) a list or table of ancestors


bacteremia--blood poisoning
bagman--a traveling salesman
baiting-place--(Colonial America) a place to stop for rest and food
bank-rag--paper money
bar mitzvah--A Jewish celebration for a boy when he becomes 13 years old and is accepted into the congregation.
barber-chirurgeon--a barber who practiced surgery; a low practitioner of surgery
barrel fever--sickness from heavy drinking
barrel weight--A measure of weight equal to 196 pounds.
bat mitzvah--A Jewish celebration for a girl when she reaches thirteen years old and is accepted into the congregation.
bearing cloth--a child's christening robe or blanket
bedehouse--a hospital; an alms house
bene quiescat--(Latin) may he rest well
bene visit--(Latin) he lived a good life
bettering house--A reformatory or charitable organization for the sick and poor; a workhouse for wayward people.
black rent--Rent paid in corn and meat instead of money.
bona notabilia--considerable goods
boot-catcher--A person at an inn whose business was to pull off boots.
bovate--A measure of land known as an oxgang (or as much land as one ox could plough in a year) varying in amount from 10 to 18 acres.
buffalo soldier--A black soldier in the American west.
buttery book--A book containing names of members of a college, and the account of their commons.


Cable Act--A revision of naturalization laws in 1922, in which wives were not allowed to become citizens upon marriage, the residency requirement was reduced to one year, and the Declaration of Intention could be waived.
cadastre--(1) A register kept for taxation, containing the amount, value, and ownership of land; (2) A pool (head) tax record of persons qualified to vote; (3) A Domesday Book.
Cajun--(a corruption of the word "Acadian") persons of French ancestry living in Louisiana
calends--The first day of any month in the Roman calendar
Cambellites--A religious group named for its founders, Thomas and Alexander Campbell.
Canuck--A French-Canadian.
carucate--A measure of land. It was as much as could be tilled with a team of eight oxen in one year.
cashmarie--A person who takes fish from the coast to inland markets.
cense--a tax or tribute
charnel house--A vault or house under or near a church where bones of the dead are kept.
chevalier--In heraldry, a horseman armed at all points.
childbed fever--(1) An infection following childbirth; (2) puerperal fever
Chinese Exclusion Act--An act passed in 1882 to withhold citizenship from the many Chinese immigrants who had come to work on the railroad.
codicil--A supplement or addition to a will.
companion--A wife or husband, spouse, mate, consort
consanguinity--The relationship or connection of persons descended from a common ancestor; a blood relationship
consort--A wife or husband, spouse, mate, companion
co-parcenary--An estate held in common by joint heirs.
coverture--The legal condition of a married woman which allows her to keep and control her personal property and wealth.
cow-common--(also "cow-walk") A community pasture; land common to all for grazing animals
creole--(1) A person of European descent (French or Spanish) born in Louisiana. (2) A black born in the western hemisphere, rather than Africa.
cum onere--(Latin) subject to a lien or obligation of which the buyer is aware of
cum testamento annexo--(Latin) (1) Literally, "with the will annexed". (2) An administration of an estate where the will was made where either the executor was not named, did not qualify, or refused to serve.


danegeld--A tax levied annually to maintain forces to oppose the Danes, or buy them off.
dark-house--A madhouse, or insane asylum.
de anno in annum--(Latin) from year to year
de bonis non--(Latin) (1) Literally "of the goods not administered"; (2) The distribution of property not completed by the first administrator.
decessit sine parole--(Latin) died without issue
deed of agreement--A deed concerned with the sale of personal property, deeds land to someone who agrees to take care of the grantor for the remainder of his/her life.
demense--Land possessed by a lord and used by him instead of rented out to tenants.
Domesday Book--(also called a Doomesday Book) An ancient record of the Grand or Great Inquest of Survey of lands in England, by the order of William the Conqueror. It gave a census-like description of the realm, with the names of the proprietors and the nature, extent, value, liabilities, etc. of their properties.
domina--(Latin) The mistress of the family; lady; wife
domine--(Latin) Lord or master; used as a form of address when speaking to clergy or educated professionals.
doxy--An unmarried mistress of a beggar or rogue.
dry bellyache--(also "dry dripes") lead poisoning
dry dripes--(also "dry bellyache") lead poisoning


earth-bath--A medical treatment in which the patient was buried up to their shoulders in the ground.
eld father--A grandfather
eld mother--a grandmother
eleven-penny bit--(also "York Shilling"; "Spanish Real") A coin commonly used in colonial New York and Pennsylvania.
enteric fever--typhoid fever
essence peddler--A person who sold medicines, flavorings, elixirs, etc.
ex assensu patris--(Latin) by assent of the father
ex donationes regis--(Latin) by gift of the king
ex parte paterna--(Latin) by the father's side


failure of issue--(1) In a will or deed, this indicates that in the event of there being no children born to or surviving the deceased person, the property will go to a third party; (2) In common law, the condition continues with the children of the first taker.
famulary--(Latin) of or belonging to servants
farthing--(1) a fourth of a British penny; (2) an English measure of land equaling thirty acres.
fealty--Loyalty or fidelity owed to a feudal lord by his tenant.
feme sole trader--A free trader; A married woman who holds property independently of her husband and is empowered by court action to buy, sell, or trade property on her own.
fen-duty--a land tax
filia--(Latin) a daughter; female offspring
fogger--(1) a peddlar who carries small wares from village to village; (2) a low-class lawyer; (3) a middleman in the nail and chain trade; (4) an agricultural laborer who feeds cattle.
Forbes Road--A route to the West built ca. 1780, which opened passage between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
frankpledge--A medieval English system under which each male member of a tithing, twelve years old or older, was responsible for the good conduct of other members.
freehold--An estate held outright with no other claims on it. It could be transferred to heirs or others.
fruiterer--(1) A person who buys and sells fruit; (2) A ship that transfers fruit


habendum et tenendum--(Latin) (1) Literally, "to have and to hold to the grantee (buyer or donee) his heirs and asigns"; (2) A clause in a deed that specifies the type of property or estate that the buyer will receive.
honour--A large estate with several manor houses ruled over by one lord.


Spanish Real--see "eleven-penny bit"


tithe--Associated with the payment of offerings (in kind or money) to a church, or to the government, as a tax.


Virginia Company of London--A group whose members were Sir Thomas Dale and associates, incorporated as the Virginia Company of London. They were granted a charter in 1606 by King James I, which entitled them to settle lands in the New World.


York Shilling--see "eleven-penny bit"

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