ROOTS Genealogical Dictionary



Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms



Last Edited: December 29, 2007

This file contains many of the common "buzzwords", terminology and legal words found in genealogy work. If you think of any words that should be added to this list, please notify Randy Jones.

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the cloth on the oast above the fires where the hops are dried.
sworn statement renouncing a former allegiance
an oath in the American colonies during the Revolution requiring immigrants to swear that they supported the new American government rather than the King of England
[Latin] before - in front of - because of - on account of
[Latin] died; abbreviation: ob.
a notice, in recent times in a newspaper or journal, announcing the death of an individual and frequently providing familial and genealogical details
a child placed with a religious house with the intent that he would eventually take vows
a half denarius; hapenny
referring to dates, especially feast days, it is the eighth day past the date, including the date itself
[Latin] 8
see Colored.
Certain dates before 1752 are based on the "Old Style" (O.S.) calendar. By Act of Parliament passed in 1750, the Gregorian (New Style) calendar replaced the previous one. The day following 2 September 1752, was called 14 September. At the same time the beginning of the legal year was changed from the 25th of March to 1 January. Many European countries had adopted the Gregorian calendar as early as 1700. Because of the resulting confusion, it had become the custom in England and her colonies to give two dates for the period between 1 January and 25 March, (example: 13 January 1709/10). The day following 24 March 1709/10 was given as 25 March 1710." {Q}
use of naming patterns to develop a possible lineage
See "Cousins" on our website.
[Latin] town
[Heraldric; French gold] one of the seven colors allowed in heraldry -- gold colored and represented in engraving by a white surface covered with small dots
1/8 of a mark.  Fifteen orae equaled one pound in the 10th Century.
[Latin] an attorney handles case and legal proceedings but uses the name orator/oratrix to identify the man or woman that instigated the case and related the events to him. ie: a wife's personal tale of the actions of her spouse when no witness was present.
a method of trial whereby the accused is given a physical test, usually dangerous or painful, only by which if he is successful is he innocent
the power to try by ordeal
in addition to to current one meaning "commonplace":
1. A dining room or eating house, or house of public entertainment (as opposed to a house of private entertainment) where a meal is prepared for all comers, at a fixed price for the meal, in distinction from one where each dish is separately charged;
2. A heraldric term which includes one of nine or ten geometric sshapes which are in constant use. The bend, chevron, chief, cross, fesse, pale, and saltire are types of ordinaries;
3. A legal term - (Roman Law) An officer who has original jurisdiction in his own right, and not by deputation. (b) (Eng. Law) One who has immediate jurisdiction in matters ecclesiastical; an ecclesiastical judge; also, a deputy of the bishop, or a clergyman appointed to perform divine service for condemned criminals and assist in preparing them for death. (c) (Am. Law) A judicial officer, having generally the powers of a judge of probate or a surrogate.
4. a bishop of a diocese {W}
over the 75 year span of the Orphan Train movement 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. Some children were true orphans, no parents, no other family to look after them, living on the streets, sleeping in doorways, fending for themselves by whatever means necessary. But many of these children had parents.
yellow dye
a medieval jurisdictional authority which allowed the holder of the authority to chase a thief down outside his territory.  See also INFANGTHIEF.
land (such as pastures) which contained no dwellings and was usually held by freehold  
a measure of land also known as an bovate. It was 1/8 of a ploughgate(or as much land as one ox could plough in a year). An oxgate varied in acreage from 8 to 18 acres, depending on how arable the land was.

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K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


{A}The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

{B} Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition


{E} Evans, Barbara Jean. The New A to Zax

{F}The Dictionary of Genealogy by Terrick V H Fitzhugh

{H} History of the Later Roman Empire,  Vol.1, J.B. Bury, 1958.

{O}The Oxford English Dictionary

{P} Pepys' diary

{R} Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2006)

{Q} Hinshaw, William Wade, "Encyclopedia of America Quaker Genealogy," (1938, Rpt., Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994)

{W} Webster's Collegiate Dictionary; Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

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