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Genealogy Dictionary


Genealogy Dictionary
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Fall 2001 and Revised 21 May 2004

On the Lanark-L@rootsweb.com I found the following information from Lynn Prettyman of Baltimore, MD which seems useful. It reads as follows:

"I just bought "The Dictionary of Genealogy: Terrick V H Fitzhugh, and have been going thru it and found some interesting definitions, so I thought I would send a few out to see if anyone is interested in seeing more. The book is geared to England, for the most part, as far as places from which to obtain info, but the general definitions are very good. I will give the samples I that I thought you might like to see:

    --Aulnager- An official responsible for inspecting and measuring woolen cloth

    --Betrothal- from the 12th century, a betrothal followed by a pregnancy, or even consummation, was considered a valid marriage, though a formal declaration of marriage before witnesses was expected. (Also called Espousal). Espousal Books, recording such contracts, survive for a handful of (English) parishes

    --Blue Coat Boy- Many lower orders wore blue clothing. Charity children were known as Blue Coat Boys because of their prescribed dress

    --Bordar-Also known as a Cottar, a small-holder, usually on the outskirts of the village.

    --Brother- A term often used to mean brother-in-law. Sometimes, to make clear which is meant, a real brother is referred to as 'my own brother". also applies to sister.

    --Buried, partly- An expression that indicates the heart is buried in one place and the body in another, usually by directions of a will.

    --Chanceling- An illegitimate child ( Merrybegot was another term used)

    --Chapman- A buyer or seller of goods, often itinerant

    --Cottar- Tenant of a cottage, with or without a small piece of land

    --Cousin- A term formerly loosely used, and often meaning a niece or a nephew.

    --Creature- A baptismal name bestowed...more likely when a name had not been chosen and the baby was not expected to survive. It is from the Latin "Creatura Christi" , which was sometimes in the wording of the registry

    --Daughter-in-law- In old records it is liable to mean Step-daughter. Also, a daughter-in-law is often called "daughter

    --Father-in-law- Often used for Step-father, also applies to mother-in-law. A Father-in-law often called father

    --German- A cousin german is a first cousin, child of an aunt or uncle. Brothers and sisters german have the same parents.

    --Greensickness- Anemia

    --Half-baptized- christened privately, not in a church, being necessitated by the weakened state of a baby who might not survive to reach the church. The child was baptized with the understanding that if the child survived, the parents would bring it to the church. *Occasionally both ceremonies were entered in the registry,but private baptisms were one cause of the baptismal registers being the worst kept.* In extreme urgency, the midwife could baptize the child.

    --Herd- used of a person, it means a shepherd or herdsman.

    --Infant- child under age 7

    --Journeyman- A day labourer who had completed his apprenticeship. His hours were actually spelled out. In the summer, 5A- 7 or 8P with not more than 2 hrs a day allowed for mealtimes, and in the winter, form dawn to dusk. Most journeyman lived away from their work, but the term has no relationship to travelling

    --Knobstick wedding- the equivalent of a modern "shotgun" wedding. A pregnant single woman was married to the alleged father under pressure form the church . The church wardens attended the ceremony and the name is derived from their knobbed staves of office.

    --Knocknobbler- a member of the church responsible for driving dogs out of the church if they were a nuisance. also called a Dog-whipper.

    --Marriage License Records- to avoid crying the banns, a couple could purchase a license outright, usually done to avoid publicity.

    --Mechanic- a journeyman involved in one of the lower trades

    --Mr.- An abbreviation for Master, and was formerly pronounced that way. In the 17th century, any man of repectable status was so titled.

    --Mrs.- the equivalent of Mr, except that it applied to married or single women during the 17th century, as it stood for Mistress, (not a sex partner, in this instance) and in the 18th century was accorded to mature single women as a sign of respect.

    --Naked- A note made in the death register for an unshrouded body in an unlined coffin.Usually occurred when a family was too poor to afford a woolen shroud or pay the fine for using another kind. Related to this is The Act for Burying in Woollen, passed in 1678 to support the woolen trade. It was illegal to wrap corpses or line coffins in any other material than wool, the only exception being those who had died from the Plague.

    --Nephew- Until the end of the 17th century, it meant a grandson, descendant or kinsman.

    --Niece- Again, until the end of the 17th century, this word meant a descendant, *male* or female.

    --Palatine Counties- The original counties were those along the Scottish and Welsh borders, ruled by the Earls of Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford, The Duke of Lancaster and the Prince Bishop of Durham.

    --Marriage Register--I'm only going to put in a note here--If the couple can't be found in either of their home parishes, Mr FITZHUGH says to look in the parish of the nearest market town. [He devotes 6 pages to that which may be found in Parish Registers]

    --Pinder-The person whose job it was to round up stray animals and confine them to the pinfold of the manor or parish.

    --Putrid fever- a group of diseases that included small pox and typhus.

    --Ragged Schools- Schools that were set up to educate the poor for free. The first one was established in 1818. [This may have been strictly English. Mr Fitzhugh doesn't say]

    --Settlement- A legal right to poor relief, based on a settled place of abode. A person was considered a resident after living in a place for one month. A child took on his father's settlement until he was apprenticed out. At that time, his place of employment became his settlement. A woman took her husband's place of settlement. Illegitimate children received their settlement where they were born, which led the officials to drive out unmarried pregnant women. The act was repealed in 1834. [There is much more on this topic in the book]

    --Sweating sickness- Once a common epidemic disease, rapidly fatal. Some died within 3 hrs after onset. It encompassed cold shivers, dizziness, headache and pains in the neck and shoulders, with the shivers quickly turning to heat and sweating, followed by intense thirst, palpitations and delirium, but if any survived it for 24 hrs, they were safe. Also known as the English disease. [Mr FITZHUGH does not give a modern equivalent.]

    --Tertian Ague- malaria

    --Time Immemorial- A legal term meaning all time prior to King Richard coming to the throne in 1139.

    --Uterine- A brother and sister born of the same mother, but different father.

    --Wife Selling- Until the end of the 19th century, people still thought a wife could be sold because she was her husband's property. The usual method was to take her to the market-place, hang a halter around her neck and put her up for auction. Recorded cases occur from the late 17th century. In 1823, the going price was 23 shillings. In 1891, it was ruled that no law gave a husband complete dominion over his wife, but cases were still recorded into the late 1890's.

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