Ab Initio. [Latin, from the beginning] used in situations regarding the validity of will, deed, or other legal document
Abatement. 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., or, 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.
Abd. [Arabic] servant/slave of
Abeyance. A condition of undetermined ownership, as of an estate that has not yet been assigned
Abruptio. [Latin, breaking off] a divorce, most often found in church records, parish books and legal documents.
Accretion. Right of inheritance by survival
Acredale. A common field in which several proprietors held interest, not always on an equal basis
Acreman. [Middle English] a man who ploughed or cultivated the land.
Adverse Possession. occupying a property, then gaining title and ownership by keeping it for a specified statutory periodAetheling. [Anglo-Saxon prince royal]
Artificer. Soldier mechanic
who does repairs
Assignee. The person to whom a privilege or some property is signed over by the court. "See Assignment".
Assignment. Grant of property or a legal right, benefit, or privilege to another person. In colonial and medieval times the process could be lengthy, involving payment of consideration to the crown, obtaining a receipt from the treasurer, getting an auditor's certificate, getting the land surveyed and recorded. The right to the land could be "assigned" at any time in the process to a third party. It was not unusual to have six or seven assignments before the final recording.
Assignor. The person who signs over the right or some property to another
Armiger. An armiger is someone entitled to bear heraldic arms, as opposed to an esquire, carried someone else's arms..
Attainted. In England, because Parliament is a court, and the highest in the land, attainder became a legislative act declaring a person guilty of treason or felony (almost always treason) rather than using a regular judicial process of trial and conviction. In 1450, according to the Historical Dictionary of the Elizabethan World, attainder was "extended to the convicted traitor's heirs, who were declared 'corrupt of blood' and therefore unable to inherit property or exercise certain civil rights." Attainder was abolished in England in 1870. The U.S. Constitution of 1787 specifically forbids bills of attainder by either Congress or the state legislatures and equally forbids any judicial conviction working corruption of the blood.
Atte. An English surname prefix meaning "at the" or "of the", usually used in conjunction with a generic topographical feature: "wood" (thus Atwood), "well" (Atwell), etc. "Stone" fits this definition. It may not be seen much due to the fact that it was used in humbler families. The Latin equivalent is "de la" or "del."
Aum. An old Dutch and German unit of liquid varying from 36-42 gallons
Backsyde. Back yard, outbuildings etc. attached to a dwelling.
Bacteremia. Blood poisoning
Bad Blood. Syphilis
Bailiff. The manorial lord’s representative and estate manager, but subordinate to the steward.
Baiting Place. (Colonial
America) A place to stop for rest and food
Bank-rag. Paper money
Barrel weight. A measure
equal to 196 pounds
Bays & Says. A type of
wool cloth made around
Baymaker. See Bays & Says.
Bearing Cloth. A child's
christening robe or blanket
Behoofe. Use, benefit, advantage.
Bettering house. A
reformatory or charitable organization for the sick and poor; a
workhouse for wayward people
Bilious Fever. Disease
caused by liver disorder.
Bishops Transcript. A copy of one year’s entries in a Parish register, sent by the incumbent to his bishop, usually at Easter.
Black Death. Typhus
Black Plague. Bubonic plague.
Black Rent. Rent paid in
corn and meat instead of money
Blockmaker. One who crafted
Carner. Granary keeper
Carter. Maker, or driver, of
Castor. Hat maker
Catalepsy. Seizures or
Chaffing dish. Chaffer. Small enclosed brazier containing hot coals, usually charcoal, for heating food and drink.
Chapman. A dealer in small items e.g. haberdasher. At times a traveling salesman
Chilblain. Swelling of the extremities caused by exposure to cold
Chin Cough. Whooping Cough
characterized by convulsions and contortions
Clerk of the Market. On market days the Clerk attended from to sunset, and trading commenced and ceased on his announcement.
Codicil. An addition to a will to record changes.
Cold Plague. Ague which is characterized by chills.
Collateral relationship Relationship between persons descended from a common ancestor, but not in the direct line, for example, a great-aunt, uncle, cousin, or nephew
Colporteur. Peddler of books
Congestive Fever. Malaria
Coniger. Conygrye etc. Rabbit Warren.
Consanguinity Blood relationship; relationship among descendants of a common ancestor
Cony. Rabbit. Kept in conigers for food.
Copyhold. The tenant was protected by title written on the manor court rolls, of which he was provided with a copy - hence the name of the tenure. When transferring the property the tenant first surrendered it to the lord who held the fee simple, and then the new tenant was admitted on payment of a fine.
Cordwainer. ‘cordner’. Generally a shoemaker or cobbler.
Cornet. The fifth commissioned officer in a troop of cavalry, who carried the colors; corresponding to the ensign in infantry. or - The lowest commissioned rank in a cavalry regiment, equivalent to the present 2nd Lieutenant.
Court Leet. A manorial
court, it could also apply to
Cousin German. First cousin, the child of an uncle or aunt.
Coverture. The legal
condition of a married woman which allows her to keep and control her
personal property and wealth
Cow-common. A community
pasture; land common to all for grazing animals
Cramp Colic. Appendicitis
Crayman. Driver of a cart
carrying heavy loads
Crop Sickness. Overextended
Culler. A person who grades animals for killing, or gelder of male animals
Currier. One who tans
leather, uses curry comb on horses
Cyanosis. Lack of oxygen in
blood, dark skin color
Deforciant. Defendant who deforces another or prevents him from inheriting an estate.
Demesne. Those parts of the land and rights of a manor that the lord retained for himself, distinct from those used by his tenants.
Demise. To convey by will or lease an estate either ‘in Fee’ i.e. hereditarily, or for a term.
Deponent. One who makes a statement on oath (verbal or written) in connection with a legal case.
Devise. To leave, by will, land as distinct from personal property. ‘Bequeath’ is used for the latter.
disease of the throat.
Dowager. A widow who holds
title or property derived from her dead husband
Dropsy of the Brain.
Dry Bellyache. Lead poisoning
Duitsh man. Probably Dutchman,Earmarks. Used in identification of livestock. Many times, earmarks stayed within a family, making it possible to identify family relationships, as earmarks could be passed father to son
Feet of Fines. These records contain judgments as to the ownership of land and property, quite often the result of collusive actions brought by parties to establish title in the absence of documents.
Felyn. Yellow, fair-haired,
also called mellyn
Feofee. A person who receives the fief. Today this would be synonymous with "trustee". Feoffees were often related to the party for whom they held property. As such, a list of feoffees is often helpful in ferreting out relationships which might be difficult to prove otherwise. The same person who served as feoffee of property might also serve as a witness for a marriage settlement or as supervisor of a will. That is usually a sign that the parties were related in some way.
Feoffment. Transfer of land from one person to another.
Fesse. (heraldry) a large
Filiam, Filium. Latin for
Final Concord. During the English Medieval period, a decision by a panel of judges, usually four, to render decisions usually regarding property disputes. The concord was made permanent and binding if uncontested for a year and a day. The record of the final concord was in three parts -- one to the plaintiff, one to the defendent, and the third bottom part called the feet of fines, went to the Royal Treasury.
Firelands. A tract of land in northeastern Ohio reserved by Connecticut for its own settlers when it ceded its western lands in 1786. The state of Connecticut deeded land there to its citizens whose homes were burned during the Revolutionary War, therefore the territory became known as "fireland"
First Papers. declaration of intention filed by an alien in a court of law
Fitz. Fitz is the Norman French equivalent of "son of", having the same root as French "fils" and Latin "filius". The patronymic would change from generation to generation. Then came a soldification into a surname on the order of Johnson, Anderson. Some examples are FitzAlan, FitzGerald.
Fleakes. (fleacks, felks) Hurdles, presumably for fence making.
Flock. Wool refuse used for stuffing mattresses and pillows.
Flourit. [Latin, he lives] in genealogy, used to describe the years during which an individual lived the the birth and death dates are not known.. Frequently shown as the abbreviation fl.
Flux. Bloody flux is a bloody diarrhea and is usually caused by the bacteria Shigella. It is most commonly spread by food contaminated with fecal matter. A possible source is apples off the ground in a field that included livestock
Foel. [Welsh bald] Also as moel.
Fortalic, Fortelace, or Fortilage. [Latin fortalitia a little fort] An outwork of a fortification
Fortnight. 14 days
Free Warren. [Eng] the right to hunt small game on a property, usually granted by the King
Freeholder. One who has a freehold estate, by holding the land by fee simple, which is to hold a piece of property outright with no other claims on it. In colonial times, a freeholder had the right to vote and hold public office.
Freemen. A man who was free of trade taxes and who shared in the profits of the borough in which he lived and traded, or, a tenant who was free of feudal service, and/or, a man who had served his apprenticeship and who could then work at his trade in his own right.
French Pox. Syphilis
Furst. [Ger.] a ruling prince, as opposed to prinz, who was a titular prince.
Fyrd. [Anglo-Saxon] organization of the military
Gaol Delivery. A judicial hearing of the charges against all prisoners awaiting trial in the area prisons. By a Commission of Gaol Delivery, the king appointed certain persons justices and empowered them to deliver his gaols at certain places of the prisoners held within them. It ordered them to meet at a certain place and at a time which they themselves could appoint, when the sheriff of the county would bring all the prisoners of the area before them.
Garnish. A set of vessels for table use, especially of pewter. Garnish of pewter - complete set of twelve each of platters, dishes, saucers, cups and small flat plates. Often displayed on the cupboard head.
Gazetteer. A book which alphabetically names and describes the places in a specific area. For example, a gazetteer of a county would name and describe all of the towns, lakes, rivers, and mountains in the county.
Gearing. Harness for horses, presumably to pull the wagons, harrows & plough.
Goodman. A solid member of the community who ranked above a freeman but below a gentleman on the social sc
Gredyron. A gridiron, a platform of iron bars, with short feet and a long handle, for cooking meat over a fire.
Green Sickness. Anemia
Haberdasher. A hats and caps dealer or maker. Later a dealer in thread, ribbons and other small wares.
Handfast. A different type of secular marriage where vows were made before witnesses, a church or contract marriage to follow. Handfasting was mainly done in remote areas where there were no officials of the church or government readily to perform the wedding.
Hatchment. Funeral board with Arms painted on.
Hearth Tax. Tax on fireplaces (1662-1689).
Hereditament. Property which may be inherited.
Hide. a medieval English unit of land measure, signifying te area which would support a family of that day. A hide could vary from 60 to 120 acres depending on the quality of the land. The name relates to the hide, or shield, a man could provide for military service, and so a hide originally was expected to provide one man for military service when called upon. A hundred hides was an administrative unit known as a Hundred
Hind. farm laborer
Hostler. One who takes care
of horses at an inn
Hovel. Open shed; outhouse for cattle, storing grain, tools etc.
Husbandman. Usually a smallholder who may also have to work on others land to support himself, a person below the status of yeoman.
Husslements. (Hustylment, hushelles, husoulment, householdments) Minor household goods of little value; odds and ends.
Impressment. The act of seizing people or property for public service or use
Jacobi. James I.
Jail Fever. Typhus
Journeyman. A qualified tradesman working for someone else.
Joyned. (E.g. 'joyned stoole' & other furniture). Made by a joiner.
Kettle. An open cooking pot or pan with semi-circular handles fixed to both sides, not the modern type.
King's Evil. Tuberculosis of
neck and lymph glands
Land Patent. A grant of land in colonial America
Lay Subsidy. A tax on movable property.
Limner. Draftsman or artist
Lock Jaw. Tetanus
Lung Fever. Tuberculosis
Marasmus. Similar to
malnutrition, progressive wasting away
Marriage Bond. Ancestors of our modern marriage licenses, were required in colonial America at least as early as the 1660s. They were supposed to guard against illegal marriages (if one party were already married or under age, for instance) by making people personally known to the man and woman libel for payment of a large amount of money if they failed to disclose an objection to a legal marriage before it took place. The bond was executed to guarantee that no legal or moral impediments existed to an intended marriage. A payment was made which would be forfeited, usually to the bride's father, should the marriage not take place.
Meet. Suitable, fit, proper.
Melungeon. A race, or
family, of people who lived between the ridges of the East Tennessee
mountains long before the long hunters arrived, and whose origin is
Messuage. A dwelling house with the ground around it and any outbuildings.
Miasma. Poisonous vapors
thought to infect the air
Milk Sickness. Disease from the milk from cattle which had eaten poisonous weeds
Moiety. A half.
Moot Hall or Hallmoot. A manor court.
Mormal, or morsal. Gangrene
Mulatto. A person with both
black and while heritage.
Naked. A note made in a burial register when the corpse was unshrouded and the coffin unlined (This was sometimes the case with a poor family who could not afford the expense of a woolen shroud) or, the payment of a fine for using any other type of cloth.
Oath of Abjuration. A sworn statement renouncing a former allegiance
Orphan Trains. From 1853 to
1928, it is estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 "orphan"
children in the big cities of the East were relocated to new homes in
the Midwest via the Orphan Trains. But the term "orphan" is used
loosely in many cases.
Pale. A stake for fence making.
Pathmaster. A person responsible for maintaining a particular road or roads in the town
Patriotic Service. Having participated in the American Revolutionary War, exclusive of military service. Patriotic Service includes: Collector of Provisions; Defender of Fort or Frontier; Delegate to a Continental Congress or to a Provincial Congress; Express Rider, Fence Viewer; Furnishing a substitute, Gunsmith who gave his services; Inspector of provisions; Legislator; Member of the Boston Tea Party; and many others.
Perambulation of the Bounds. The Vestry had the responsibility of walking the bounds of the parish. The Incumbent, parish officers, prominent vestrymen and a good many schoolchildren employed for the occasion, armed with the authority of a wand of office, checked that boundary stones were in position and that no buildings encroached, unrated, on parish territory.
Per Stirpes. A method of dividing an estate so that children act as a group, rather than individually, taking what their deceased ancestor was entitled to
Phthiriasas. Lice infestation
Pillow beers. (Also pillow codds & pillow drawers) - Pillow cases.
Porcher. Pig keeper
Porringer. Bowl for soup or porridge.
Pott's Disease. tuberculosis
of the spinal vertebrae
Processioner. In colonial Virginia and Kentucky, describing a surveyor of sorts. His job was to decide upon property boundaries to mark, and describe them in the processioner's book. Each four years all landowners in a community would ride or walk along the boundaries of all their plantations. Surveyors who accompanied this procession would redraw any disputed lines. This custom came from England to Virginia as a means of avoiding disputes arising from poor surveys or loss of boundary markers such as trees
Proved. A will taken to court by the executor and sworn to by one or more of the witnesses. It is evidence that the testator had died before the date of probate (proving). The witnesses had to appear to verify that they had seen the testator sign the will, not that they knew what the will said. After a will was proved to the court's satisfaction, the executor and administrator (if any) were authorized to carry it out. They could sell, divide, rent, or otherwise dispose of property under the provisions of the will.
Puerperal Exhaustion. Death
Quadroon. A person with one black grandparent
Redemptioner. a Colonial emigrant from Europe to North America who paid for his voyage by serving as a bondservant for a specified period of time after arrival
Remitting Fever. Malaria
Scots-Irish. The descendants of the Presbyterian Scots who had been placed in the northern counties of Ireland by British rulers in the early part of the 17th Century. Most came to America from 1718 until the Revolution. They settled first in PA, then moved south and then westward to the frontier
Shopps. House or building where goods are made or prepared for sale and sold (workshop).
Skomar. Skimmer; either of iron for taking the ashes from the hearth, or of other metal for use as a cooking ladle.
Sloes. Milk Sickness
Smock Wedding. One of the more unusual customs that came to America. Under English common law if a widow remarried and brought any of her late husband's property to the marriage, the new husband became liable for any and all the debts of the previous husband. Women owned nothing in their own right, and this included their clothing. So it became the custom for indebted widows to get married in their underwear, or smocks. The smock wedding was triple-fold. It was a bankruptcy proceeding; it was a marriage ceremony; it was an investiture because the bride then got a new wardrobe from her new husband. In theory the ceremony was held for all to see, on a public highway. But in practice many smock weddings were indoors.
Sollars. Upper rooms in a house
Spotted Fever. Typhus
Sprue. Tropical disease
characterized by intestinal disorders and sore throat
Spytt. A spit, for roasting meat over a fire.
Stirk, sterke or styrke. A heifer, usually between one & two years old.
Stranger's Fever. Yellow
Surveyor of the Highways. (Overseer of the Highways, Boonmaster, Stonewarden, Waywarden). A parish officer established by the Highways Act 1555. He was unpaid and appointed from among the parishioners. Obliged to survey the highways three times a year and organize the statute labor that was provided by landholders to repair the roads, or else collect the money commutations.
Stuler. One who accompanies
troops in the field or garrison and sells food, drink and supplies
Tainters. Wooden framework for cloth to be stretched after milling, so that it would dry evenly and without shrinkage.
Tenement. A holding of land and buildings.
Tithingman. Tithing. A group of men or boys held responsible to the manor court for its members’ good conduct. The elected representative of the tithing was the Tithingman.
Trade Tokens. Tokens issued by traders in times of coin shortage, usually brass or copper.
Trammel. A series of rings or links, or other device, to bear a crook at different heights over a fire; the whole being suspended from a transverse bar (the crook tree), built in the chimney.
Treen Ware. Wooden ware - made from trees.
Trevytt. A trivet.
Vestry. An elected body of people, usually around 10 people, to make decisions necessary for an Episcopal church's continued function. Terms of office vary from time frame to time frame, and parish to parish
Virginalls. (pair of) Keyed musical instrument, popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, similar to a spinet but without legs, played on a table.
Visitation. Heralds visitations took place from 1530 onwards to check on peoples claims to bear arms. Ecclesiastical visitations by archdeacons or bishops checking on the conduct etc of their parishioners.
Water bailiff. An officer in seaport towns who was empowered to search ships for contraband etc.
Waynscotte. Wooden panelling used to line the walls of a room. The word also used for panelled chests, chairs etc.
Winter Fever. Pneumonia
Wool. Burying in Woolen Act, passed in 1660 and reinforced in 1678, to support the woolen trade by making it an offence to wrap corpses or line coffins in any material other than wool. The only bodies exempt were those of people who had died of plague.
Woolstapler. A merchant who buys wool from the producer, grades it, and sells it to the manufacturer.
Worm Fit. Convulsions
associated with teething, worms, elevated temperature or diarrhea
Yeoman. Farmers who would
work on their own land as either freeholders or
tenants. Husbandmen would tend to have less land.