ROOTS Genealogical Dictionary


Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms


Updated: 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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[Heraldry] an animal standing on its hind legs
(1) the equivalent of a hundred in co.Sussex, England
(2) the abduction of a woman for the purpose of marriage.  In medieval times, this did not include sexual involvement as the current connotation of the word provides, but was generally a consensual act between two unrequited lovers, common in a time where all marriages were arranged 
a three-stringed instrument played with a bow, the early forerunner of the violin
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
an officer, steward, bailiff, or governor; the current derivation is sheriff, ie., shire reeve. Originally, the reeve was local administrative agent of an Anglo-Saxon king. Later, he was a medieval English manor officer responsible chiefly for overseeing the discharge of feudal obligations. {W}
a date expressed in terms of the number of years of a monarch s reign. For example, 7 Henry VI = 7th year of the reign of King Henry the Sixth of England. He ruled from 31 Aug 1422, so that is when his regnal year begins. 7 H VI, thus means, sometime between 31 Aug 1429 and 30 Aug 1430. Edward III's double-dating is another difficult one. Between 1340 and 1360, when he asserted and renounced his claim to the French crown, Edward III added his French regnal years. When he resumed the claim in 1369 he added them again counting in the years between 1360 and 1369. Hence, 25 January 1360 - 8 May 1360 is 34 & 21 Edw. III and 11 June 1369 - 24 Jan 1370 is 43 & 30 Edw. III, the first number being his English regnal year. Another oddity is the year of Henry VI's restoration. Edward IV's regnal years ignore it. 9 Oct. 1470 - 14 April 1471 is 49 & 1 Hen. VI but it lies inside 10 - 11 Edw. IV, 4 Mar 1470 - 3 Mar 1472. -- Ivor West (edited). Henry V's death was on 31 Aug, but Hy VI accession was on 1st Sept. Some regnal years are taken from the same day as the death of the previous king, some the following day. King John's regnal years are difficult, he was crowned on Ascension Day and -being a movable feast - his regnal year changed accordingly. Charles II was deemed to have succeeded at the execution of his father Charles I, but during the Interregnum, ordinary dating was used. -- Adrian Channing
the list of rent payments due to a proprietor or the crown, paid usually annually, frequently on Michaelmas.  
A lawsuit in which the plaintiff says the defendant has property belonging to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff wants the property returned. Contrasts with trover (q.v.).
place where a source can be found. (i.e.: Library, History center)
a building containing the latrines at a monastery
[Ger.] the lowest level of nobility, they were hereditary knights.
the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between Rogation Sunday and Ascension Day when the boundaries of a parish were walked and defined
[Archaic]  as successor to, or in place of
a measure, less than a quintarium
The best place to find "anything" of a genealogical nature, including lists for every state, county, surname, etc, is ROOTSWEB.
the rulers (princes) and their near families.
a small creek

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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