Twig, Tree and Treasure; A Genealogical Sojourn Information

Symbols, Abbreviations
Plus Some Other Helpful Information
purple bullet Genealogical Abbreviations
purple bullet Common Symbols
purple bullet Genealogical Glossary

Genealogical  Abbreviations



a. - about, age, acre, ante, aunt, ante
a.a.r. - against all risks
a.a.s. - died in the year of his/her age (56 years died in 1856)
a.c. - attested copy; account current
a.k.a. - also known as
a.l.s. - autographed letter signed
a.w.c. - admon. (letters of administration) with will and codicil annexed
AASP - American Antiquarian Society Proceedings
ab. - about; abbey
abbr. - abbreviation
abd. - abdicated
Abp. - Archbishop
abr. - abridged; abridgment
abs. or abstr. - abstract
abt. - about
AC - Ante Christum; ancestor chart
acad. - academy
acc. - according to; account; accompanied
acco. - account
accu. - accurate
ackd. - acknowledged
actg. - acting
AD - [Latin] Anno Domin
Ad - adopted; AdCl - adopted child; AdD - adopted daughter, etc.
ADC Aide-de-Camp
adj. - adjoining; adjutant; adjourned
adm. - admission; admitted
admin. - administration; administrator
Admon. - letters of administration
admr. - administration
ae - age
af. or afft. - affidavit
aft. - after
aka - also known as
AL - American Legion
ald. - alderman
alleg. - allegiance
als  - alias
anc. - ancestry; ancestor; ancient
annot. - annotated
ano. - another
anon. - anonymous
ant. - antiquary; antonym
antiq. - antiquary; antiquities; antiquity; antiquarian
AOP - American Order of Pioneers
Ap - apprentice
APG - Association of Professional Genealogists
APJI - Association for Protection of Jewish Immigrants
app. - apprentice; aprpoximately; appendix; appointed
App. Div. - Appelate division
appl. applied
appr. - appraisment
apprd. - apprised; appeared
approx. - approximately
apptd. - appointed
appx. - appendix
ar. co. - artillery company
arr. - arrived
ascert. - ascertain(ed)
ASG - American Society of Genealogists
asgd. - assigned
asr. - assessor
assgn. - assign
assn. or assoc. - association
asso. - associated; associate
Asst - assistant
At - Attendant
atba - able to bear arms
atty. - attorney
au. - gold
aud. - auditor
AWOL - absent without leave


b. - born; bondsman; banns; book; birth; bachelor; brother
B.B. - Bail Bond
b.d. or bdt. - birth date
b.i.l. or Bl - brother-in-law
B.M. - Bench Mark; British Museum
b.o.t.p. - both of this parish
B.S. - in court records
B.T. - Bishop's Transcripts
b/o - brother of
ba. - bachelor; baptized
bach. or batch. - bachelor
bap or bapt. - baptized; baptism
bapt. - baptized
BBoy - bound boy
bcer - birth certificat
BCG - Board for Certification of Genealogists
bd. - bound; buried
bec. - because; became
bef. - before
beh. - beheaded
beq. - bequest
bet. - between
betw. between
BGirl - bound girl
BIA - Bureau of Indian Affairs
b-i-l  - brother-in-law
biog. - biography
bish. - bishop
bks. - books; barracks
bl. - bibliography
BLM - Bureau of Land Management
BLW - Bount Land Warrant
bndsmn. - bondsman
Bo - boarder
bo or bot. - bought; bottom
bo. - boarder
bp. - baptized; birthplace
bpl. - birthplace
bpt. - baptized
Br. - British
br. - brought
br. or bro. - brother
bro-i-l - brother-in-law
btwn. - between
bur. or bu - buried


C of A - Coat of Arms
c. - cousin; circa; codicil
c. - circa (about)
c.r. - church report
c.s. - copy signed
ca. - circa (about)
Cap or capt. - captain; captured; captivity br> Capt. Captain
capt. - captured
CAR - National Society Children of the American Revolution
catal. - catalogue
cath. - cathedral
CC - County Clerk; county court
CCP - Court of Common Pleas
CDA - Colonial Dames of America
CDIB - Certified Degree of Indian Blood
cem. - cemetery
cen. or cens. - census
cent. - century
cer. or cert. - certificate
cert. - certificate
cf. - confer
cf. - compare
CG - Certified Genealogist
CH - Court House
ch. - child; children; church; chief, chaplain
ch/o - child of
Cha - chamber maid
chan. - chancery
chh. - church
chldn. or chn. - children
chr. or chris.- christened
cir. - circa
cit. - citato (the work cited)
civ. - civil
CJ - County Judge
Cl - child
CL  - Continental Line
clk. - clerk
CO - commanding officer; Colonial Office
co. - county; company
cod. - codicil
coh. - co-heir
col. - colony
Col. - Colonel
coll. - college; collections
com. - commissioner; commander; commentary; committee; common; commoner; communicate, companion
comm. - commissioners, commissioner; company commander
comp. - company
confer. - conferred
conject. - conjecture
cont. - continued
contr. - contract
corp. - corporal
couns. - counsellor
cous. - cousin
coven. - covenant
CRA - Church Records Archives
crspd. - correspond; correspondence
CS  - Civil Service
CSA - Confederate States of America
csn. - cousin; cousins
ct. - court; citation; county
Ct. - Court
CW - Civil War; church warden


d. - died; death; daughter
d. & coh. - daughter and coheiress
d. & h. - daughter and heiress
d.c.e. - Writ of diem clausit extremum (he has closed his last day)
d.s. - document signed; died single
d.s.p. - [Latin] descessit sine parole; died without issue
d.s.p. - legit died without legitimate issue
d.s.p.m. - [Latin] descessit sine parole mascula; died without male issue
d.v.p. - decessit vitae patre (died in father's lifetime)
d.y. - died young
d/o - daughter of
DA - District Attorney
da. - daughter; day
DAB - Dictionary of American Biography
DAC - National Society of the Daughters of the American Colonists
DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution
dau. or daugr - daughter
dau-i-l - daughter-in-law
daus. - daughters
DAV - Disabled American Veterans
DB - Domesday Book
DC - District of Columbia; Deputy Clerk; Deputy County Clerk
DCG - Descendants of Colonial Governors
d'd. - deceased
dea or deac. - deacon
Dea. - Deacon
dec. or dec'd - deceased
decd. - deceased
decis. - decision
degr. - degree
dep. - deputy; depot
depos. - deposed
dept. - department
desc. - descendant
devis. - devised
DFPA - Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America
dil. - daughter-in-law
dio. - diocese
dis. - discharge
discip. - discipline
dist. - district
div. - division; divided; divorced; divinity
do. - ditto
doc or docum. - document
dom. - domestic
dpl. - death place
DR - Daughter of the Revolution; Diocesan Registry
DR - Death Record
dr. - doctor; dram
ds. - deaths; daughters
dsct. - descendant
d.s.p.l. - died without legitimate issue
d.s.p.m.s. - died without surviving male issue
d.s.p.s - died without surviving issue
dto. - ditto
dtr. - daughter
dt's. - delirium tremens
dum. or d. um. - died unmarried
d.unm - died unmarried
d.v.m. - died in the lifetime of his mother
d.v.p. - died in the lifetime of his father
DVR - Society of the Descendants of Washington's Army at Valley Forge


E. - East or eastern
E.D. - Enumeration District
e.g. - exempli gratia (for example)
easi. - easily
ecux. - executrix; a female executor
ed. - edited; edition; editor
educ. - education; educated
Emp - employee
En - engineer
Eng. - England
Engl. - England
enl. - enlisted
eno. - enough
ens. - ensign
Ens. - Ensign
ensu. - ensuing
est. - estate;established
establ. - establishment
estd. - estimated
Et al - and others
et. vir. - and husband
etc. - [Latin] etcetera; and so forth
exc. - except; excellency; excepted; exchange
exec. - executor
exec. or exor. or exr. - executor
exox. - executrix
exs. - executors
exx. - executrix


f. - father; female; folio; feast; feet; farm; following
F.A. - Field Artillery
F.B. - Family Bible
f.e. - for example
f.m. - free mulatto
f.n. - free negro
f/o - father of
fa. - father
FaH - farm hand; FaW - farm worker
fam. - family; families
FARC - Federal Archives and Records Centers (branches of the National Archives)
FASG - Fellow American Society of Genealogists
father-in-l - father-in-law
ff. - following (pages)
FF's - First Families
FFV - First Families of Virginia
FGRA - Family Group Record Archives
FGS - Federation of Genealogical Societies
FGS - Family Group Sheets
FHC - Family History Center
FHL - Family History Library
Fi - fireman
fidel. - fidelity
f-i-l - father-in-law
fil. or f.inl or FL - father-in-law
F.L.T. - friendship, love and truth
FM - foster mother
foll. - following; followed
FR - Family Registry
freem. - freeman; freemen
freem. - oath of freeman
frm. - oath of freeman
ft. - foot; fort


g. - grand; great
G.B. - Great Britain
g.r. - grave record
g.s. - grave stone
GA - great aunt
GAR - Grand Army of the Republic
gch. or gcl - grandchildren
GD - granddaughter
gdn. - guardian
GEDCOM - GEnealogical Data COMmunication
Gen. - General (military)
gen. - generation
Gent. - Gentleman (a title)
GF - grandfather
GGF - great-grandfather; GGGF - great-great-grandfather
GGM - great-grandmother; GGGM -great-great-grandmother
GH - Genelaogical Helper
GLC - Genealogical Library Catalog
GLO - General Land Office
gm. - grandmother
Go - governess
godf. - godfather
godm. - godmother
Gov. - Governor
Govt. - Government
gp. - grandparents
GPAI - Genealogical Periodical Annual Index
GR - Grave
gr. - grand; great; grant; graduate
gr. - grant (as in land)
grf. - grandfather
grmo. - grandmother
grs. or GS - grandson
GS - gravestone
GSW 1812 - General Society of the War of 1812
Gt. Br. - Great Britain
gt. gr. - great grand
GTT - Gone to Texas
GU - great uncle
Gua - guardian


h. - husband; heir; heiress
H.C. - Harvard College
h/o - husband of
hdgrs. - headquarters
HEIC - Honourable East India Comapny
her. - heraldry
hers. - herself
Hh - hired hand
hims. - himself
hist. - historian
Hist. - History
Hk - housekeeper
HM - His or Her Majesty
HMS - Her (or His) Majesty's Service or Ship
hon. - honorable
hon. dis. - honorably discharged
Hon. - Honorable (title)
honor. - honorary
honora. - honorably
HSA - Huguenot Society of America
hund. - hundred
hus. - husband
husb. husband


I - inmate
i.e. - id est (that is)
i.p.m. - Inquisition post mortem
ibid. - [Latin] ibidem; same (reference)
IGI - International Genealogical Index
ign. - ignorant
illus. - illustrated
imp. - importation
inc. - incorporated; incomplete
incl. - included; inclusiv
Ind. - Indians Indian land
Ind. T. or Ind. Ter.- Indian Territory
Ind. W.C. - Indian Widow's Certificate
IND.S.C. - Indian Survivors' Certificates
inf. - infant; infantry; informed
info. - information
inh. - inherited
inhab. - inhabitant
inq. - inquiry
ins. - insert
inst. - institute; institution
inst. instant (last)
int. - intentions; interested; interred
int. marriage intention
inv. or invt. - inventory


J.P. - Justice of the Peace
j.u. - jure uxoris (right of wife)
JA - Judge Advocate
JNH - Journal of Negro History
JP - Justice of the Peace
Jr. - Junior
jud or judic. - judicial; judicious
jun. - junior (younger of two)
junr. - junior
jur. - [Latin] jurat; certification that a document was written by the person who signed it


k. - killed; king
K.B. - Knight of the Bat
K.G. - Knight of the Garter
K.T. - Knight of the Thistle (Scotland)
kn. - known
knt. - knight
knt. or kt. - knight
kt. - knight


l. - license; law
l.e. - local elder in a church
L.I. - Long Island
l.p. - local preacher
la or labr. - laborer
Lat. - Latin
Lau - launderer
lb. - pound
LBC - Letter Book Copy
LC - Library of Congress
ld. - land
ldr. - leader
LDS - Chuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
li. or liv. - lived; living
lib. - library
Liber - book or volume
lic. - license
Lieut. - Lieutenant
liv. abt. - lived about
liv. - living (alive)livery
ll. - lines
lnd. - land
loc. cit. - loco citato (in the place cited)
Lt. - Lieutenant
ltd. - limited


m. - month; male; mother; married; marriage - marriage banns
M.G. - Minister of the Gospel
m.h. - meeting house
m.i. - monument inscription
m.o. - mustered out
M.P. - Member of Parliament
m/1m/2 - married first
mag. - magistrate
Maj. - Major
mak. - making
mat. - maternal
matric. - matriculated (entered and recorded at college or university)
MCA - Microfilm Corporation of America
MCC - Microfilm Card Catalog
MCD - Municipal Civil District
MD - Doctor of Medicine; Middle Dutch
md. - married
mem. - member; membership; memorials; memoir
ment. - mentioned
Messrs. - plural of mister
Mex. S.C. - Mexican Survivors' Certificates
Mex. S.O. - Mexcian Survivor's Originals
Mex. W.C. - Mexican Widows' Certificate
MG - Minister of the Gospel
MGH - Middle High German
mi. - mile; miles
MIA - Missing in Action
Mich. - Michaelmas
m-i-l - mother-in-law
mil or milit. - military
min. - minister
m-in-l or ML - mother-in-law
MLG - Middle Low German
MLW - Military Land Warrant
MM - abbreviation for Monthly Meeting of Society of Friends (Quakers)
mo. - mother; month
mors. - death; corpse
mov. - moved
MQ - Mayflower Quarterly
MR marriage record
Mr. - Mister
Mrs. - Mistress
ms. - manuscript
mss. - manuscripts
mtg. - meeting; mortgage
mus. - musician
mvd. - moved
my/d - my daughte


N. - Negro; North
n. - nephew; name
N.A. - Native American
n.d. - no date N.E. - New England; North Eeast
N.E. - New England
N.N. - not named (name unknown)
n.p. - no place
N.S. - New Style date (Gregorian calendar)
N.W. - North West
n.x.n. - no Christian name
NA - National Archives in Washington.; Native American
nam. - named
NARA - National Archives and Records Administration
NARS - National Archives and Record Service
nat. - [Latin] natus; birth; son; offspring
nd - no date(s)
NEH - National Endowment for the Humanities
NEHGR - New England Historic Genealogical Register [publication of NEHGS]
NEHGS - New England Historic Genealogical Society
neph. - nephew
neph-i-l - nephew-in-law
Nepos - grandson
nfi - no further information
nfk - nothing further known
NGS - National Genealogical Society
NHPRC - National Historical Publications and Records Commission
Ni - niece
nm. - name
nmed. - named
not. - noted
NP - Notary Public
nr. - none recorded; not recorded; naturalized
nr. - near
NS - New Style calendar; Nova Scotia
NSCDA - National Society of the Colonial Dames of America
NSDAR - National Society
Nu - nurse
NUCMC - National Union Catalog of Manuscript Colletions
nunc. - nuncupative (oral)
Nunc Nun - an oral will, written by a witness
NW. Terr. - North West Territory
NWC - Navy Widow's Certificate


o. - oath
O.B. - Order Book
o.c. - only child
O.E. - Old England; Old English
o.p. - out of print
O.S. - Old Style date (Julian calendar)
o.t.p. - of this parish
ob. - obit
ob. - died
occ. - occupation
offor offic. - official
oft. - often
OM - Organized Militia
op. cit. - opere citato (the work cited above)
ord. - ordained; ordinance; order; ordinary
org. - organization
orig. - origin; original
OS - Old Style calendar


p. - page; per; populus; parentage; parents; pence patient
p. - post (after)
p.a. - power of attorney
P.C. - Privy Council
P.M. - Post Meridiem; afternoon; Post Mortem; after death; Police magistrate
P.O. - Post Office
p.r. - parish record
Pa - partner
pam. - pamphlet
par. - parish; parent; parents
pat. - patent; patented; paternal
pat. - patriot (Revolutionary War service)
pchd. - purchased
PE - Presiding Elder
peo. - people
perh. - perhaps
petitn. or petn. - petition
petr. - petitioner
pg. - page
ph. - parish physician
PI - Preliminary Inventories
pion. - pioneer
PJP - Probate Judge of the Peace
PLB - Poor Law Board
plt. - plantiff
POA - Power of Attorney
POE - Port of Entry
Por - porter
poss. - possibly
pp. - pages
PPA - per power of Attorney
pr. - proved; probated
preced. - preceding
pres. - presumed
PRO - Public Record Office
pro. - probated or proved (as in a will)
prob. - probable; probably
prop. - property
propr. - proprietor (land owner)
provis. - provision
PS - Patriotic Service
pt. - point; port; petition; pint
ptf. - plaintiff
Pu - pupil
pub. - public; published; publisher; publication
pub. published (intent to marry made public)
pvt. - private
pymt. - payment


q. - [Latin] quarto; oversize book
q.y. - query


R. - Range; Rabbi; River; Road
r. - rector; rex; rejected; river; road
R.C. - Roman Catholic
rat. - rated
rcdr. - recorder
rcpt. - receipt
RD - release of dower rights
re. - regarding
rec. - record
ref. - refer
reg. - register
Reg. Gen. - Registrar General
regt. - regiment
rel. - relative
Rel. or Relict - widow or widower 
reld. - relieved
rel-i-l - relative-in-law
rem. - removed (moved left the area)
ren. - renunciation
rep. - report; representative; reprint; reprinted
rep. - representative (political sense)
repl. - replaced; replacement
repud. - repudiated
res. - research; residence; resides
respectiv. - respectively
ret. - retired
ret. - returned
Rev. - Reverend; Revolutionary War
Rev. War - Revolutionary War
RG - Registered Genealogist
rgstr. - registrar
Res. or Residue - widow or widower
rinq. - relinquished
RIP - [Latin] requiescat in pace; rest in peace
Rom. - Roman
Rot. - rotalus (Roll)
RR - railroad


s. - son(s)/ soldier; survivor; spinster; successor; shilling
s. and h. - son and heir
s.a. sine anno - (without year) used with a date indicating a great degree of uncertainty
s.d. sine die - (without date)
S.E. - southeast
s.p. - [Latin] sine prole; without offspring
s.p.l. - [Latin] sine prole legitima; without legitimate offspring
s.p.m. - [Latin] sine prole mascula; without male offspring
s.s. - step-son
s/o - son of
Sa - sailor
Sal - saleslady
SAR - Sons of the American Revolution
SASE - self-addressed stamped envelope
Sb - stepbrother
scatt. - scattering; scattered
Scl - step child
SCV - Sons of Confederate Veterans
s'd - said [found in legal documents]
SDA - Seventh Day Adventists
Se - servant
sec. - second; secretary; section; sector; security
Sen. - senior (elder of two)
serg. - sergeant
Sergt. Sergeant
serv. - service; servant
sett. - settlers; settler; settled
sev. - several
Sf - stepfather
Sgt. - Sergeant
sh. - share; ship
sh. - shortly
Si - sister
sib. - sibling
Sic - exact copy as written
sil or Sl - son-in-law
sin. - [Latin] sine; without
sis. - sister
Sm - stepmother
sn. - [Latin] sine; without
SO - Survivors' Originals
soc. - society; societies
spell. - spelling; spelled
spr. - sponsor
sr. - senior
src. - source
srnms. - surnames
Ss - stepson
st. - saint; street
suc. - succeeded (followed)
succ. - successively
summ. - summoned
suo juris - in his (her) right
sup. - supply; superior
supt. or Su - superintendant
surg. - surgeon
surv. - survived
SUV - Sons of Union Veterans
sw. - swear; sworn
syl. - syllable


T. - Township
t.p. - title page
t.p.m. - title page mutilated
t.p.w. - title page wanting
tak. - taken
Ten - tenant
terr. - territory
test. - testament
Testes - witnesses
tho. - though
thot. - thought
thro. - through
TIB - Temple (Records) Index Bureau
tn. - town; township
top. - topographical
Tp. - Township
tr. - troop; translated; translation
transcr. - transcribed
transl. - translation
treas. - treasurer
TRIB - Temple Records Index Bureau
TVA - Tennessee Valley Authority
twn. - town
twp. - township
ty. - territory


U - uncle
U.K. - United Kingdom
UDC - United Daughters of the Confederacy
Ult - late
ult. - ultimo (last month)
unasgd. - unassigned
unc. - uncle
unit. - uniting; united
unk. - unknown
unkn. - unknown
unm. - unmarried
unorg. - unorganized
USCG - United States Coast Guard
USCT - United States Colored Troops
USMC - United States Marine Corps
USN - United States Navy
USWPA - United States Works Progress Administration
ux. - uxor or uxoris
Ux or vs - wife


v.a. - [Latin] vixit annos; (s)he lived (a certain number) years
V.L. - Vulgar Latin
v.r. - vital records
v.s. - vital statistics
var. - various; variation; variant
VFW - Veterans of Foreign Wars
Vi - visitor
VIP - Very Important Person
Vis. or Visc. - Viscount; Viscountess
vit. - vital
viz. - [Latin] videlicet; namely
vol. - volume volunteer (military)
vols. - volunteers; volumes
VR - vital record
vs. - versus


w. - wife; will; west; widow
W.B. - Will Book
W.D. - War Department
w.d. - will dated
W.O. - Warrant Officer
W.O. - Widow's Originals
w.p. - will probated; will proved
W.S. - Writer to the Signet
w/o - wife of
Wa - warden
wag. - wagoner
Wai - waitress
wd. - widow; ward
wf. - wife
wf/o - wife of
wh. - who; which
wid. - widow
wit. - witness
wk(s). - week(s)
Wkm - workman
wnt. - wants
WPA - Works Progress Administration
WRHS - Western Reserve Historical Society
Wt - waiter
wtn. - witness
ww. - widow
ww/o - widow of
wwr. - widower


X - a mark made by a person instead of a signature; Christ; Christian
x ch. - exchange
Xn. - Christian
Xnty. - Christianity
Xped. - Christened
Xr. - Christian
Xt. - Christ
Xtian. - Christian
Xty. - Christianity


y. - year
y. - young
yd. - graveyard
yr. - year; younger; your
yr. - year


Common Symbols

Trade Symbols:

 Barber - Bowl (for bleeding) & Razor
Butcher - an axe, steel knife and cleaver
Farmer - Coulter (type of hoe), flail (threshing implement), swingletree rod (for beating flax), stalk of corn
Gardener - rake & spade
Mason - wedge & level
Mariner - anchor, sextant
Merchant - scales, sign
Minister - Bible
Shoemaker - awl, knife, nippers
Smith - crown, hammer & anvil
Teacher - open book
Weaver - loom, shuttle & stretchers
Wood Wright - wooden objects they made

Miscellaneous Symbols:
 3 Books - Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants
3 Rings - the Oddfellows, friendship, love and truth, spiruality
Anchor, Ships - hope or a Mariner
Arches - victory in death
Arrows - mortality
Bible - Christian
Book open - teacher
Bible open - clergy
Broken Column - (on a tombstone) loss of the head of the family
Candle being snuffed - time, mortality
Chalice - Sacraments
Cherub - innocence, Angelic
Crescent - Goddess, Muslim religion
Cross - Christian, resurrection
Crossed swords - high ranking military
Crown - glory of life after death
Darts or Coffin - Father Time
Flame / Light - to be immortal
Garland / Wreath - glory, Saintliness, (on a tombstone) victory in death
Hands shaking - farewell
Hand of God chopping - sudden death
Harp - Praise to the God
Heart - Catholic, love, suffering of Christ
Hearts (2) - marriage
Horns - wisdom, rebirth, the ressurection
Hourglass with wings - time flying, shorth life
Imps - mortality
Menorah - Judaism
Palm Branches - victory, rejoiceing
Picks and shovels - mortality
Portals - passageway to eternal life
Ring (broken) - family circle has been severed
Rod / Staff - comfort
Shells - pilgrimiage of life
Star - spirit that shines
Star of David - Judaism
Stars and strips on Eagle - eternal viligence, liberty
Sun - renewed life
Swords Crossed - high Military rank
Tombs - mortality
Torch inverted - life extinct
Trumpeters, Bugles - Harbingers of the Resurrection
Urn - immortality, remembrance
Urn with blaze - undying friendship
Urn with wreath, crepe - mourning
Winged effigies - flight of the soul

Animal Symbols:

Bird - eternal life
Bird flying - resurrection, flight of the soul

Butterfly - short life
Dog - good master
Dove - peace and eternal life,
innocence, gentleness, affection, purity

Lamb - innocence
Lion - courage
Rooster - awakening, resurrection

Plant Symbols:

Bouquets, flowers - condonlences, grief sorrow
Corn - ripe old age
Fruits - plenty, fruits of life
Garlands or Wreath -
glory, Saintliness, (on a tombstone) victory in death
Ivy - friendship, immortality
Laurel - accomplishment, heroism
Lily - innocence, purity
Morning Glory - beginning of life
Oak, Leaves and Acorn - power, victory, maturity, ripe old age
Palm Branch - victory, rejoicing
Poppy - eternal sleep
Roses - completion and the brevity of earthly existence
Rose (full bloom) - prime of life
Rose bud - morning of life
Rosemary - remembrance
Thistles - remembrance, Scottish descent
Tree - life
Tree Trunk - short life
Tree Sapling - life everlasting
Tree stump with ivy - head of family, imortality
Tree Stump stone in Cemetery - Woodmen of the World
Wheat - divine harvest, time
Weeping Willow - grief, sorrow

Genealogical Glossary



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 dishonour 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.

(Latin term) - Great-great-grandmother.

(Latin term) - Great-great-grandfather on male side

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 term) - great-great-grandson

ab neptis
(Latin term) - 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.

(Latin term) - "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.

acteremia - blood poisoning

ad exhaeredationem
(Latin term)  -  to disinherit

Adminstrator/administratrix (Legal term) - A person appointed by the court to settle the estate of someone who died intestate.

Admit (Legal term) - see Copyhold

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)

Adverse Possession (Legal term) - Gaining title to another's land by exercising the rights of ownership of that land unchallenged for a period of time, typically on the order of five to ten years, and meeting other requirements. See seizin.

aetas or aetatis (Latin term) - age / aged

agistment tithe - The tithe of cattle or other produce of grasslands paid to a vicar or rector.

Alien (Legal term) - To transfer (lands, title) to another.

Alienation (Legal term) - A transfer of title or property to another.

Allodial (Legal term) - see alodium

Alodium (Legal term) - Land owned independently, without rent or other obligation to another. See Freehold Estate. The alodial (also 'allodial') system is opposed to the feudal system.

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

(Latin term) - aunt

amita magna (Latin term) - grandfather's sister (grandaunt)

amita maior
(Latin term) - great-grand-aunt

amita maxima
(Latin term) - great-great-grand-aunt

anno (Latin term) - in the year of

annus (Latin term) - year

anonymus or anonyma (Latin term) - stillborn son / stillborn daughter

Appurentances (Legal term) - Easements, rights of way, or agreements attached to land.

Assigns (Legal term) - Anyone acting on behalf of or in place of the nominal owner. The owner may have transferred his rights to someone else or appointed an attorney to act on his behalf.

At will (Legal term) - Terminable by the lord of the manor at any time.

(Latin term) - great-great-great-grandmother.

(Latin term) - great-great-great-grandfather.

avia (Latin term) - grandmother

avunculus (Latin term) - mother's brother (uncle)

avunculus magnus
(Latin term) - grand-uncle on female side.

avunculus major (Latin term) - grandmother's brother (granduncle)

avunculus maximus
(Latin term) - great-great-grand-uncle on female side.

avus (Latin term) - grandfather


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

Bargain (Legal term) - Mutual agreement among two or more people to exchange or purchase goods.

Bargain and Sale Deed (Legal term)- A type of deed in which title is transferred but in which there is usually no guarantee as to the validity of title.

baptisatus or baptisata (Latin term) - baptized

barrel fever - sickness from heavy drinking

barrel weight - A measure of weight equal to 196 pounds.

bearing cloth - a child's christening robe or blanket

bedehouse - a hospital; an alms house

bene quiescat
(Latin term) - may he rest well

bene visit
(Latin term) - 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 Negro soldier in the American west.

buttery book - A book containing names of members of a college, and the account of their commons.


Chattel (Legal term) - A tangible, movable article of personal property, as opposed to real property.

Claim  (Legal term) - see Entry.

Collateral (Legal term) - Property put up by someone getting a loan. If they fail to repay the loan, the property goes to the person granting the loan.

Colour of Title (Legal term) - A deed appearing to convey title but in fact not conveying title, either because the grantor did not have title to convey or because the conveyance was flawed in some way.

Condemn (Legal term) - The taking of privately owned land for public use by eminent domain.

Consideration (Legal term) - The money (or other property) used to purchase land.

Copyhold (Legal term) - A tenancy at will that was recorded in a manorial court ownership roll. The lord of the manor maintained the list. Copyholds were not, strictly speaking, inheritable, but were customarily so. The land reverted to the landowner who would then "admit" the heir to the lands of the decedent.

Customary Estate (Legal term) - see copyhold

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.

caclebs or coclebs (Latin term) - unmarried / single

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.

Cadastral Map (Legal term) - Land ownership map. Generally used for tax purposes.

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.

circa (Latin term) - about

codicil - A supplement or addition to a will.

companion - A wife or husband, spouse, mate, consort

comitatus (Latin term) - county

conjunx or conjux (Latin term) - wife

consanguinity - The relationship or connection of persons descended from a common ancestor; a blood relationship

(Latin term) - female cousin on female side.

consobrinus or consobrina (Latin term) - cousin

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 Negro born in the western hemisphere, rather than Africa.

cum onere
(Latin term) - subject to a lien or obligation of which the buyer is aware of

cum testamento annexo
(Latin term) - (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 term) - from year to year

de bonis non
(Latin term) - (1) Literally "of the goods not administered"; (2) The distribution of property not completed by the first administrator.

decessit sine parole
(Latin term) - died without issue

Decedent (Legal term) - one who has died

Deed (Legal term) - A document giving the holder the title to property. More generally, any document sealing an agreement, contract, etc. The most common types of deeds Bargain and Sale, Quitclaim, and Warranty.

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.

Deed of trust (Legal term) - A transfer of property to someone to be held in trust for another. See trust. More specifically, however, deeds of trust are used in a number of states instead of a mortgage to secure a loan. The deed of trust names the trustees in whom title is placed as security against failure to meet the terms of the loan.

Deed poll (Legal term) - A deed not indented, that is, a deed made by one party only. See indenture.

demense - Land possessed by a lord and used by him instead of rented out to tenants.

die or dies (Latin term) - day

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 roperties.

(Latin term) - The mistress of the family; lady; wife

(Latin term) - Lord or master; used as a form of address when speaking to clergy or educated professionals.

Dower (Legal term) - A wife's interest in her husband's property, inheritable at his death. English probate law set this at 1/3. "Her thirds" was a phrase used for this.

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.

Easement (Legal term) - Use of a portion of property for some stated purpose without remuneration. Easements are not estates in that they do not convey ownership, but rather the use of the property in so far as needed for the stated purpose.

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.

Enfeoff (Legal term)  - To invest with an estate held in fee.

Enfeoffment (Legal term)  - Giving ownership in fee. A deed or legal document giving ownership in fee.

enteric fever - typhoid fever

Entry (Legal term) - Filing of the intention to get a land grant or patent. This was the first step of a multi-step process of getting land, the other steps generally being Survey, and Grant.

Escheat (Legal term) - Land ownership reverting to the Crown, government, or estate owner because of a lack of heirs.

essence peddler - A person who sold medicines, flavorings, elixirs, etc.

Estate (Legal term) - A property right held by someone. There can be many estates held on a single piece of property, for example, relating to specific uses of the property. Mineral rights, water rights, and so on are examples. Estates can be subordinate (lower in rank) to other estates.

ex assensu patris
(Latin term) - by assent of the father

ex donationes regis
(Latin term) - by gift of the king

Executor/executrix (Legal term) - The person named in a will to carry out the terms of the will. See administrator.

ex parte paterna - Latin for 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.

(Latin term) - 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.

femina (Latin term) - woman

fen-duty - a land tax

filia (Latin term) - daughter child

filius sororis (Latin term) - sister's son (nephew)

filia fratris (Latin term) - brother's daughter (niece)

filius fratris (Latin term) - brother's son (nephew)

Fee (Legal term) - Heritable land held in return for service to a lord.

Fee simple (Legal term) - Ownership of land that can be inherited by any heirs. To hold in fee means to possess.

Fee tail (Legal term) - Ownership of land restricted to a specified class of heirs, generally direct descendants.

Feoff (Legal term) - See fee

Feoffment (Legal term) - Transfer of inheritable real property.

Feoffee (Legal term) - One who benefits from a fief.

Feud (Legal term) - See fee.

Feudal system (Legal term) - The system of land holding in exchange for service, ultimately to the king. This is opposed to the alodial system.

Fief (Legal term) - See fee.

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 labourer 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.

frater (Latin term) - brother

frater consanguineus
(Latin term) - step-brother on male side.

frater uterinus
(Latin term) - step-brother on female side.

fratris filius
(Latin term) - nephew on male side.

fratris filia
(Latin term) - niece on male side.

Freehold (Legal term) - see fee simple 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


(Latin term) - son-in-law

germana (Latin term) - sister

germanus (Latin term) - brother

Grant (Legal term) - Transfer of title from the government to the first titleholder of a piece of property. This term is generally used by states and the federal government. See also patent.

Grantee (Legal term) - The person receiving a grant, or buying property.

Grantor  (Legal term) - The person issuing the grant, or selling property.


habendum et tenendum
(Latin term) - (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.

Hereditament (Legal term) - Anything that can be inherited. A corporeal hereditament is tangible real or personal property that can be inherited. An incorporeal hereditament includes intangible appurtenances, rents, and the like.

homo (Latin term) - man

honour - A large estate with several manor houses ruled over by one lord.


Importation right (Legal term) - See headright.

Improve (Legal term) - To make land more valuable by clearing and planting. Land that was not improved by the owner might revert to the government.

Indenture (Legal term) - A written agreement. (Originally, the document was written in duplicate, and the two copies placed side by side and 'indented', or cut, with a wavy line so they fit together perfectly.) See also deed poll.

infans (Latin term) - infant

Intestate (Legal term) - Having no will. If someone dies intestate, the court appoints an administrator to settle the estate.

Instrument (Legal term) - Legal document.

inuptus or inupta (Latin term) - unmarried

Investiture (Legal term) - See livery of seizin.


Joint tenancy (Legal term) - Ownership by two or more people, with rights of survivorship. Tenants can act individually to partition or sell their interest in the property, but such actions create a tenancy in common. See also tenancy by the entirety.



Livery (Legal term) - Delivery of ownership.

Livery of Seizin (Legal term) - An open and 'notorious' public ceremony conferring ownership of a freehold estate.


majores (Latin term) - ancestors

marita (Latin term) - wife

maritus (Latin term) - husband

mater (Latin term) - mother

matertera (Latin term) - mother's sister (aunt)

matertera magna (Latin term) - grandmother's sister (grandaunt)

matertera maior
(Latin term) - great-grand-aunt.

matertera maxima
(Latin term) - great-great-grand-aunt on female side.

(Latin term) - husband

maximus natu (Latin term) - eldest firstborn

mensis (Latin term) - month

Messuage (Legal term) - A dwelling house with its adjacent buildings and lands appropriated to the use of the household.

minimus natu or minima natu (Latin term) - youngest

Moiety (Legal term) - One half. One of two equal parts. A share or portion.

More or less (Legal term) - This term is frequently used in deeds to qualify acreage, e.g. "50 acres, being the same more or less". Even accurate surveys have some error in the calculation of area and this phrase recognizes that fact.

Mortgage (Legal term) - Currently this is considered to be a secured loan (for example, a loan with a house as collateral). In the past, it was often written as a regular deed of sale with a condition attached such that the sale was void if certain payments are made by a certain date. With a mortgage, if the borrower fails to pay the mortgage note off, the mortgagor must successfully sue in order to sell the property and recover the loan. See deed of trust for a different way of establishing security for a loan.


natus or nata (Latin term) - born

nepos (Latin term) - grandson; sometimes nephew

neptis (Latin term) - granddaughter

nuptus or nupta (Latin term) - married

(Latin term) - grand-son.

(Latin term) - grand-daughter.

(Latin term) - step-mother.

(Latin term) - daughter-in-law.


obiit (Latin term) - died

obiit sine prole (Latin term) - died without issue / childless


parentes (Latin term) - parents

parochia (Latin term) - parish

Patent (Legal term) - Transfer of title from the government to the first titleholder of a piece of
property. This term was generally used by the Crown or itsrepresentative. See also grant.

pater (Latin term) - father

patres ancestors (Latin term) - forefathers

patria (Latin term) - country

(Latin term) - cousin on male side.

patruus (Latin term) - father's brother (uncle)

patruus magnus
(Latin term) - grand-uncle.

patruus major (Latin term) - grandfather's brother (granduncle)

patruus maximus
(Latin term) - great-great-grand-uncle.

Possessory (Legal term) - Relating to ownership.

Premises (Legal term) - A somewhat fluid term meaning land and its appurtenances, or land and its buildings and structures.

priores (Latin term) - ancestors

(Latin term) - step-daughter.

(Latin term) - step-son.

proavia (Latin term) - great-grandmother

provincia (Latin term) - province/county

proavus (Latin term) - great-grandfather

Probate (Legal term) - The process of proving a decedent's will and settling the estate. The signing of a will was typically witnessed by neighbours, who would later swear in court that they saw the decedent sign the will prior to death. This "proved" that the will was actually that of the decedent.

(Latin term) - grand-son-in-law

pronepos (Latin term) - great-grandson

proneptis (Latin term) -great-granddaughter

(Latin term) - grand-daughter-in-law.

Property (Legal term) - Any kind of thing which has a value and which one can exercise the rights of ownership upon, including possession, use, and disposal

(Latin term) - grandfather-in-law.

(Latin term) - grandmother-in-law.

Prove Up (Legal term) - See Improve

puella (Latin term) - girl

puer (Latin term) - boy


Quitclaim Deed (Legal term) - A common type of deed in which the seller relinquishes claim to whatever rights were held on the property, but does not guarantee that the property is actually free of claims by others.

Quitrent (Legal term) - A rent paid in lieu of required feudal services. See fee and socage. The quitrent can be considered a real estate tax.


Real property (Legal term) - Land. See also chattel.

Remainder (Legal term) - Transfer of ownership to someone on the death of another. For example, land may be sold to person A for use during their lifetime, but then remaindered to person B at the death of A.

Revert (Legal term) - Return of ownership to a former owner (or heirs).


sepultus or sepulta (Latin term) - buried

Seizin (Legal term) - Ownership or 'in fact' possession of a freehold estate. Inferred here is an increasing degree of ownership with the passage of time, as the possessor makes productive use of the land. Seizin was originally not an estate, but a way to gain one, as by adverse possession. This is rooted in the Roman concept that whoever worked the land should be its owner.

Sergeantry (Legal term)- Non-military service to a lord in exchange for land.

Socage (Legal term) - Holding of land by a tenant in return for fixed payment or for non-military service to the lord. This system was eventually replaced by our system of taxation. See quitrent.

(Latin term) - father-in-law.

(Latin term) - mother-in-law.

Soke (Legal term) - The jurisdiction of a court.

soror (Latin term) - sister

soror consanguinea
(Latin term) - step-sister on male side.

soror uterina
(Latin term) - step-sister on female side.

sororis filius
(Latin term) - nephew on female side.

sororis filia
(Latin term) - niece on female side.

Spanish Real - see "eleven-penny bit"

spurius or spuria (Latin term) - illegitimate son/illeg.daughter

stavus (Latin term) - great-great- great-grandfather

Straw Deed, Strawman Deed (Legal term) - Two deeds filed in succession, the first from party A to party B, second from B back to A. This was used to sidestep legal restrictions of sales between spouses or joint owners, or to incorporate a new survey description. Party B is a trusted intermediary, either a close friend or attorney.

stenuna (Latin term) - gentile pedigree


Tenancy by the entirety (Legal term) - A form of joint tenancy held by husband and wife. Title automatically transfers to the survivor upon the death of one party. Neither party can sell or divide the property without the consent of the other.

Tenancy in common (Legal term) - Title held by two or more people where each person can sell their interest without the consent of the other owners. There are no rights of survivorship.

Tenement (Legal term) - Permanent property, whether concrete or not, such as land, buildings, cars, or the stock represented by a stock certificate. In most common usage it means a house or building.

testamentum (Latin term) - will / testament

Teste (Legal term) - Witness.

Testate (Legal term) - Having a will.

Thirds (Legal term) - see dower

Title (Legal term) - Legal ownership as evidenced by a deed or other instrument.

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

(Latin term) - great-great-great-great-grandmother.

tritavus (Latin term) - great-great-great-great-grandfather

Trust (Legal term) - Confidence placed in someone by giving them property to be held or used for another's benefit. The property held in trust.

Trustee (Legal term) - An individual to whom another's property is entrusted.


urbs (Latin term)  - city / town

uxor (Latin term) -wife

uxoris frater
(Latin term) - brother-in-law.

uxoris soror
(Latin term) - sister-in-law.


vidua (Latin term) - widow

viduus (Latin term) - widower

vir (Latin term) - man

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.

virgo (Latin term) - girl / virgin

(Latin term) - step-father.


Warrant (Legal term) - A governmental order authorizing some action. An arrest warrant instructs a sheriff to arrest someone. A land warrant instructs a state to issue land to someone.

Warranty Deed (Legal term) - A deed in which the seller warrants having a valid title and that the property is clear of any liens.

Waste Land (Legal term) - Land that has not been claimed, or which has escheated .




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