ROOTS Genealogical Dictionary


Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms


Last Updated: 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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a peasant holding, also know as a virgate, it was a medieval English unit of area equal to about a quarter of a hide, or about 30 acres, possessed by a gebur
1) an experienced man capable of keeping account of supplies and costs
2) a farmer/freeholder who tills his own small acreage, ranking below a gentleman
3) a person who can be counted on to work diligently and effectively
4) a clerk or writer in the navy.{E}
By 15th C. English common law, he was a freeholder or copyholder, farming at least 50 acres and have an annual income of 40 shillings from his freehold property. His social status depended on who he served and responsibilities given.  It was very important to know for whom he was a yeoman to understand the meaning of his occupation. The yeoman was considered to be below a gentleman but above a villein. "Yeoman" is also a term for "fighting men."  It also became common for the word to be used in a very general way to describe outdoorsmen or hunters skilled in "wodecraft" (a term that encompasses the yeoman's knowledge of the rules and conventions that governed medieval hunting practices), possibly because they, like England's celebrated military yeoman, were viewed as being skillful archers.  In many of the Robin Hood poems and ballads, for example, Robin's men are regularly called yeomen, more likely because of their expertise with the bow and arrow than because they enjoyed a particular social standing or were small landholders.  - Lynda Harris --
(1) a measure of land in co.Kent, England equivalent to 1/4 of a sulung
(2) the harness of an oxen or other draft animal

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{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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