ROOTS Genealogical Dictionary



Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms


Last Edited: January 17, 2012

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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[Arabic] a measure equaling 1.2 to 1.5 liters
[Latin, the man who asks questions] the Roma magistrate originally an investigator of murders, this office evolved to control the finances of the Empire, and controlled the public treasury and were the paymasters of the army.  Later, the quæstor augustii were responsible for messages to/from the emperor, and supervised the Games.  The quæstor had no bodyguard, but was authorized to wear a purple-trimmed toga.  Originally, there were four quæstors, but in the later Roman empire there were as many as 20.
a farthing  
a person with one black grandparent
a member of the Society of Friends, formed in England in 1648. Early restrictions brought them to New Jersey in 1675 and some 230 English Quakers founded Burlington, NJ in 1678. William Penn was granted the territory of Pennsylvania in 1681 and within two years there were about 3000 Quakers living there.
[Latin] 4
a fourth part of a measure
the first day of the new quarter of the year, when rents fell due
[Heraldry] a representation of a flower with four petals or a leaf with four leaflets
[Latin, French] who - whereby
the fifteen day after a festival
[Latin] 5
a dummy with a shield on a post used as a target to practice jousting or other medieval martial arts  
a rent paid by a freeman in lieu of services required under feudal custom. During the colonial period the land in Virginia belonged to the King with the exception of the Northern Neck, which belonged to the Proprietor (Lord Fairfax for many years). Although persons could claim the land, sell it, or keep it and pass it on to their heirs, they could hold it only if they paid a small annual quit-rent to the King (or to the Proprietor). If the quit-rent was not paid, the land was then reclaimed by the King (or the Proprietor), and could then be granted to another. This system existed until the Revolution. See also "Peppercorn Rent".
one's renouncing any claim or right to a property or possession. In most cases, the individual would well know that they are part owner. This instrument was and is frequently used to resolve property received by right of inheritance or dower, but re-distributed to other members of the family.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J
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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