Glossary of Genealogical Terms 
Official terminology! When you undertake Genealogy research you will come across some Official Genealogical terms. Some of these Genealogical terms date back many centuries! Many of these Genealogical terms are therefore difficult to understand. We have therefore included a Glossary of Genealogical terms to ease this problem. Please print a copy of this page and remember to store it in your Personal Ancestry File.

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Glossary of Genealogical Terms

Administration (Of Estate)- The Collection, Management and Distribution of an Estate by Proper Legal Process. 
Administrator (Of Estate) - Person Appointed To Manage or Divide the Estate of a Deceased Person. 
Administratrix - A Female Administrator. 
Affidavit - A Statement in Writing, Sworn to before Proper Authority. 
Alien - Foreigner. 
American Revolution - U.S. War for Independence from Great Britain 1775 -1783. 
Ancestor - A Person From Whom You are Descended; A Forefather. 
Ante - Latin Prefix Meaning Before, such as in Ante-Bellum South, "The South Before The War" 
Apprentice - One Who is Bound by Indentures or by Legal Agreement or by any Means to Serve another Person for a Certain Time, with a View of Learning an Art or Trade. 
Appurtenance - That Which Belongs to something else, such as a Building, Orchard, Right Of Way, Etc. 
Archives - Records of a Government, Organization, Institution; The Place where Records Are Stored. 
Attest - To Affirm; To Certify By Signature Or Oath. 
Banns - Public Announcement of Intended Marriage. 
Beneficiary - One Who Receives Benefit of Trust or Property. 
Bequeath - To Give Personal Property To A Person In A Will. Noun - Bequest. 
Bond - Written, Signed, Witnessed Agreement requiring Payment of a Specified Amount of Money on or Before a Given Date. 
Bounty Land Warrant - A Right to Obtain Land, Specific Number of Acres of Unallocated Public Land, Granted for Military Service. 
Census - Official Enumeration, Listing or Counting of Citizens. 
Certified Copy - A Copy Made and Attested to by Officers having Charge of the Original and Authorized to give Copies. 
Chattel - Personal Property which can Include Animate as well as Inanimate Properties. 
Christen - To Receive or Initiate into the Visible Church by Baptism; To Name at Baptism; To Give a Name to. 
Circa - About, Near, or Approximate - Usually Referring to a Date. 
Civil War - War Between The States; War Between North and South, 1861-65. 
Codicil - Addition to a Will. 
Collateral Ancestor - Belong to the Same Ancestral Stock but not in Direct Line of Descent; Opposed to Lineal such as Aunts, Uncles & Cousins. 
Common Ancestor - Ancestor Shared by any Two People. 
Confederate - Pertaining to the Southern States which Seceded from Theu. S. In 1860 -1861, their Government and their Citizens. 
Consanguinity - Blood Relationship. 
Consort - Usually, a Wife whose Husband is Living 
Conveyance - See Deed. 
Cousin - Relative Descended from a Common Ancestor, but not a Brother or Sister. 
Daughter-In-Law - Wife of One's Son. 
Deceased - Dead. 
Decedent - A Deceased Person. 
Declaration Of Intention - First Paper, sworn to and Filed in Court, by an Alien Stating that he wants to become a Citizen. 
Deed - A Document by Which Title in Real Property is Transferred from One Party to Another. 
Deposition - A Testifying or Testimony Taken Down in Writing Under Oath of Affirmation in reply to Interrogatories, before a Competent Officer to Replace the Oral Testimony of a Witness. 
Devise - Gift of Real Property By Will. 
Devisee - One To Whom Real Property (Land) is Given in a Will. 
Devisor - One Who Gives Real Property In a Will. 
Dissenter - One who did not belong to the Established Church, especially The Church of England in the American Colonies. 
District Land Office Plat Book - Books or rather Maps which show the Location of the Land Patentee. 
District Land Office Tract Book - Books which List Individual Entries by Range and Township. 
Double Dating - A System of Double Dating Used in England and America from 1582-1752, because it was not clear as to whether the Year Commenced January 1 or March 25 
Dower - Legal Right Or Share Which A Wife Acquired By Marriage In The Real Estate Of Her Husband, Allotted To Her After His Death For Her Lifetime. 
Emigrant - One Leaving A Country And Moving To Another. 
Enumeration - Listing Or Counting , Such As A Census. 
Epitaph - An Inscription On Or At A Tomb Or Grave In Memory Of The One Buried There. 
Escheat - The Reversion Of Property To The State When There Are No Qualified Heirs. 
Estate - All Property And Debts Belonging To A Person. 
Et Al - Latin For "And Others". 
Et Ux - Latin For "And Wife". 
Et Uxor - And His Wife. Sometimes Written Simply Et Ux. 
Executor - One Appointed In A Will To Carry Out Its Provisions. Female =Executrix 
Father-In-Law - Father Of One's Spouse. 
Fee - An Estate Of Inheritance In Land, Being Either Fee Simple Or Fee Tail. An Estate In Land Held Of A Feudal Lord On Condition Of The Performing Of Certain Services. 
Fee Simple - An Absolute Ownership Without Restriction. 
Fee Tail - An Estate Of Inheritance Limited To Lineal Descendant Heirs of a Person to Whom it was Granted. 
Franklin, State Of - An Area Once Known But Never Officially Recognized and was Under Consideration from 1784 - 1788 from the Western Part of North Carolina. 
Fraternity - Group of Men (or Women) Sharing a Common Purpose or interest. 
Free Hold - An Estate In Fee Simple, In Fee Tail, Or For Life. 
Friend - Member Of The Religious Society Of Friends; A Quaker. 
Gazetteer - A Geographical Dictionary; A Book Giving Names And Descriptions Of Places 
Usually In Alphabetical Order. 
Genealogy - Study of Family History and Descent. 
Gentleman - A Man Well Born. 
Given Name - Name Given To a Person at Birth Or Baptism, One's First and Middle Names. 
Glebe - Land Belonging To a Parish Church. 
Grantee - One Who Buys Property Or Receives a Grant. 
Grantor - One Who Sells Property Or Makes a Grant. 
Great-Aunt - Sister Of One's Grandparent 
Great-Uncle - Brother Of One's Grandparent. 
Guardian - Person Appointed To Care For and Manage Property Of a Minor Orphan Or an Adult Incompetent Of Managing His Own Affairs. 
Half Brother/Half Sister - Child By Another Marriage Of One's Mother Or Father; The Relationship Of Two People Who Have Only One Parent In Common. 
Heirs - Those Entitled By Law Or By The Terms Of a Will To Inherit Property From another. 
Holographic Will - One Written Entirely In The Testator's Own Handwriting. 
Homestead Act - Law Passed By Congress In 1862 allowing a Head Of a Family To Obtain Title To 160 Acres Of Public Land after Clearing and Improving It For 5 Years. 
Huguenot - A French Protestant In The 16th And 17th Centuries. One Of The Reformed Or Calvinistic Communion Who Were Driven By The Thousands Into Exile In England, Holland, Germany and America. 
Illegitimate - Born To a Mother Who Was Not Married To The Child's Father. 
Immigrant - One Moving Into a Country From Another. 
Indenture - Today It Means a Contract In 2 Or More Copies. Originally Made In 2 Parts By Cutting Or Tearing a Single Sheet Across The Middle In a Jagged Line So The Two Parts May Later Be Matched. 
Indentured Servant - One Who Bound Himself Into Service Of Another Person For a Specified Number Of Years, Often In Return For Transportation To This Country. 
Infant - Any Person Not Of Full Age; A Minor. 
Instant - Of Or Pertaining To The Current Month. (Abbreviated Inst.) 
Intestate - One Who Dies Without a Will Or Dying Without a Will. 
Inventory - An Account, Catalogue Or Schedule, Made By an Executor Or Administrator Of all The Goods and Chattels And Sometimes Of The Real Estate Of a Deceased Person. 
Issue - Offspring; Children; Lineal Descendants Of a Common Ancestor. 
Late - Recently Deceased. 
Lease - An Agreement Which Creates a Landlord - Tenant Situation. 
Legacy - Property Or Money Left To Someone In a Will 
Legislature - Lawmaking Branch Of State Or National Government; Elected Group Of Lawmakers. 
Lien - A Claim Against Property As Security For Payment Of A Debt. 
Lineage - Ancestry; Direct Descent From a Specific Ancestor. 
Lineal - Consisting Of Or Being In a Direct Line Of Ancestry Or Descendants; Descended In a Direct Line. 
Lis Pendens - Pending Court Action; Usually Applies To Land Title Claims. 
Lodge - A Chapter Or Meeting Hall Of a Fraternal Organization. 
Loyalist - Tory, an American Colonist Who Supported The British Side During The American Revolution. 
Maiden Name - A Girl's Last Name Or Surname Before She Marries 
Manuscript - A Composition Written With The Hand as an Ancient Book Or a Non-Printed Modern Book Or Music. 
Marriage Bond - A Financial Guarantee That No Impediment To The Marriage Existed, Furnished By The Intended Bridegroom Or By His Friends. 
Maternal - Related Through One's Mother, Such as a Maternal Grandmother Being The Mother's Mother. 

Link - 7.92 Inches 
Chain - 100 Links Or 66 Feet 
Furlong - 1000 Links Or 660 Feet 
Rod - 5 1/2 Yards Or 16 1/2 Feet (Also Called A Perch Or Pole) 
Rood - From 5 1/2 Yards To 8 Yards, Depending on Locality 
Acre - 43,560 Square Ft Or 160 Square Rods
Messuage - A Dwelling House. 

Metes & Bounds - Property Described By Natural Boundaries, Such as '3 notches in a white oak tree'. 
Microfiche - Sheet Of Microfilm with greatly reduced images of Pages of Documents. 
Microfilm - Reproduction of Documents On Film At Reduced Size. 
Migrant - Person who Moves from Place To Place, Usually in Search Of Work 
Migrate - To Move from one Country, or State, or Region to Another. (Noun : Migration) 
Militia - Citizens Of A State Who Are Not Part Of The National Military Forces But Who Can Be Called Into Military Service In An Emergency; A Citizen Army, Apart From The Regular Military Forces. 
Minor - One Who Is Under Legal Age; Not Yet A Legal Adult. 
Mister - In Early Times, A Title Of Respect Given Only To Those Who Held Important Civil Officer Or 
Who Were Of Gentle Blood. 
Moiety - A Half; An Indefinite Portion 
Mortality - Death; Death Rate. 
Mortality Schedules - Enumeration Of Persons Who Died During The Year Prior To June 1 Of 1850, 1860, 1870, And 1880 In Each State Of The United States, Conducted By The Bureau Of Census. 
Mortgage - A Conditional Transfer Of Title To Real Property As Security For Payment Of A Debt. 
Mother-In-Law - Mother Of One's Spouse. 
Namesake - Person Named After Another Person. 
Necrology - Listing Or Record Of Persons Who Have Died Recently 
Nee - Used To Identify A Woman's Maiden Name; Born With The Surname Of. 
Nephew - Son Of One's Brother Or Sister. 
Niece - Daughter Of One's Brother Or Sister. 
Noncupative Will - One Declared Or Dictated By The Testator, usually for Persons In Last Sickness, Sudden Illness, or Military. 
Orphan - Child Whose Parents are Dead; Sometimes, A Child Who Has Lost One Parent By Death. 
Orphan's Court - Orphans Being Recognized as Wards of The States. Provisions were made for them in Special Courts. 
Passenger List - A Ships List of Passengers, Usually Referring to Those Ships Arriving in the US or Canada, from Europe. 
Patent - Grant of Land from a Government to an Individual. 
Paternal - Related to one's Father. Paternal Grandmother is the Father's Mother. 
Patriot - One Who Loves His Country and Supports its Interests. 
Pedigree - Family Tree; Ancestry. 
Pension - Money Paid Regularly to an Individual, especially By A Government as Reward for Military Service During Wartime or Upon Retirement from Government Service. 
Pensioner - One Who Receives a Pension. 
Poll - List or Record of Persons, especially for Taxing or Voting. 
Post - Prefix Meaning After, as in Post-War Economy. 
Posterity - Descendants; Those Who Come After. 
Power Of Attorney - When a Person is Unable to Act for Himself, He Appoints Another to Act on His Behalf. 
Pre - Prefix Meaning Before, As In Pre-War Military Build-Up. 
Pre-Emotion Rights - Right Given by the Federal Government To Citizens, To Buy a Quarter Section of Land or Less. 
Probate - Having to Do With Wills and the Administration of Estates. 
Progenitor - A Direct Ancestor. 
Progeny - Descendants of a Common Ancestor; Issue. 
Proved Will - A Will Established as Genuine by Probate Court. 
Provost - A Person Appointed to Superintend, or Preside over Something. 
Proximo - In the Following Month, in the Month After the Present One. 
Public Domain - Land Owned By the Government. 
Quaker - Member of the Religious Society Of Friends. 
Quitclaim - A Deed Conveying the Interest of the Party at that Time. 
Rector - A Clergyman; The Ruler or Governor of a Country. 
Relict - Widow; Surviving Spouse When One Has Died, Husband or Wife. 
Republic - Government in which Supreme Authority Lies with the People or their Elected Representatives. 
Revolutionary War - U.S. War For Independence From Great Britain 1775 -1783. 
Shaker - Member of a Religious Group Formed in 1747 which Practiced Communal Living and Celibacy. 
Sibling - Person Having One or Both Parents in Common with Another; A Brother or Sister. 
Sic - Latin Meaning Thus; Copied Exactly as the Original Reads. Often Suggests A Mistake or Surprise in the Original. 
Son-In-Law - Husband Of One's Daughter. 
Spinster - A Woman Still Unmarried (or One Who Spins). 
Sponsor - A Bondsman; Surety. 
Spouse - Husband Or Wife. 
Statute - Law. 
Step-Brother / Step-Sister - Child of One's Step-Father or Step-Mother. 
Step-Child - Child of One's Husband or Wife From a Previous Marriage. 
Step-Father - Husband of One's Mother by a Later Marriage. 
Step-Mother - Wife of One's Father By a Later Marriage. 
Surname - Family Name or Last Name. 
Territory - Area of Land Owned By a Country, not a State or Province, but having its own Legislature and Governor. 
Testamentary - Pertaining to a Will. 
Testate - A Person Who Dies Leaving a Valid Will. 
Testator - A Person Who Makes a Valid Will Before His Death. 
Tithable - Taxable. 
Tithe - Formerly, Money Due as a Tax for Support of the Clergy or Church. 
Tory - Loyalist; One Who Supported the British Side in the American Revolution. 
Township - A Division of U.S. Public Land that Contained 36 Sections, or 36 Square Miles. Also a Subdivision of the County in many North eastern And Midwestern States of the U.S. 
Tradition - The Handing Down of Statements, Beliefs, Legends, Customs, Genealogies, Etc. From Generation to Generation, especially by Word Of Mouth. 
Transcribe - To Make a Copy in Writing. 
Ultimo - In the Month Before this One. 
Union - The United States; Also The North During the Civil War, the States which did not Secede. 
Verbatim - Word for Word; In the Same Words, Verbally. 
Vital Records - Records of Birth, Death, Marriage or Divorce. 
Vital Statistics - Data Dealing With Birth, Death, Marriage or Divorce. 
War Between The States - U.S. Civil War, 1861 - 1865. 
Ward - Chiefly The Division of a City for Election Purposes. 
Will - Document Declaring how a Person Wants his Property Divided after his Death. 
Witness - One Who is Present at a Transaction, such as a Sale Of Land or Signing of a Will, who can Testify or Affirm that it Actually took place. 
Wpa Historical Records Survey - A Program Undertaken by the Us Government from 1935 - 1936, In Which Inventories were Compiled of Historical Material. 
Yeoman - A Servant, an Attendant or Subordinate Official in a Royal Household; A Subordinate of a Sheriff; An Independent Farmer.

Please print a copy of this page and remember to store it in your Personal Ancestry File.


Glossary of Genealogical Terms

Our thanks go to Dan Burrows who provided the above information freely for redistribution

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