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Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms

[F]

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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FACH
[Welsh] junior, as in younger son or other relative
FÆHTH
feud
FAIDA
blood money
FAILURE OF ISSUE
1. In a will or deed, this indicates that in the event of there being no children born to or surviving the deceased person, the property will go to a third party
2. In common law, the condition continues with the children of the first taker.
FALAISE ROLL
Names applied to the Falaise Roll were compiled from Vital, Wace, the Bayeux Tapestry and the Researches of La Rue 24 and others. These 400 names are shown as they were written in the time of William the Conqueror.  It supposed is a list (partial) of his companions at the Conquest.
FAMILY GROUP SHEET
a more-or-less standard form for recording genealogical information on one husband and wife with the children born to them
FAMILY HISTORY CENTER
a local or regional LDS library that can order a lot of genealogical records on loan from Salt Lake City
FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY
the huge library of genealogical information maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, open to the public. It holds over 2 million rolls of microfilmed records, 400,000 microfiche, and 300,000 books. It also houses an extensive collection of written manuscripts including family histories, local histories, indexes, periodicals, and aids to help in genealogical research
FAMILY SEARCH
CD-ROM available at Family History Center produced by the Mormon church. Contains the International Genealogical Index, Ancestral File, SSDI, TempleReady
FAMULARY
of or belonging to servants
FANTACH
[Welsh toothless] Also as mantach.
FAQIH
[Arabic] doctor of law
FARSAKH
a distance measure used in the Caliphate, equivalent to three miles  
FAWR
[Welsh big, great] Also as mawr.
FEALTY
[Medieval] loyalty or fidelity owed to a feudal lord by his tenant. Originating in the Carolingian capitularies, it is essentially an oath promising service and fidelity (loyalty) to one's lord or king.
FEAXFANG
seized by the hair
FEDERAL MORTALITY INDEX
see Mortality Schedule  
FEE SIMPLE
unqualified ownership and power of disposition of a piece of real property. An estate in fee simple is one which the owner can fully be conveyed to heirs, by deed or by will.  Under English common law, an estate in fee simple is absolute and unqualified inheritance.  
FEET OF FINES
during the English period, the third bottom part of the final concord of the fines document, which was filed with the Royal Treasury.  It served to validate the concord from forgeries and fraud, which were rampant during this period.
FELDE
field  
FELONY
originally, a violation of the feudal contract; later, a violation against the King's peace comprising any serious crime
FELYN
[Welsh yellow, fair-haired] See also mellyn.
FEMME COVERT
[French] a underage woman who married without permission.  She was prohibited from possessing or selling property to which she was heir.  This provision was intended to keep family property from falling into the hands of unscrupulous men
FEOFF
see FIEF
FEOFEE
a person who receives the fief. Today this would be synonymous with "trustee". Feoffees were often related to the party for whom they held property. As such, a list of feoffees is often helpful in ferreting out relationships which might be difficult to prove otherwise. The same person who served as feoffee of property might also serve as a witness for a marriage settlement or as supervisor of a will. That is usually a sign that the parties were related in some way. -- Douglas Richardson (edited)  The terms have fallen out of use, though once described the only means by which a transfer of land or other inheritable property might be accomplished. -- Paul Drake
FEOFFMENT
the gift or assignment of any corporeal hereditament to another, operating by transmutation of possession, and requiring, as essential to its completion, that the seisin be passed, which might be accomplished either by investiture or by livery of seisin. A gift of a freehold interest in land accompanied by livery of seisin. The essential part is the livery of seisin.  Also the deed or conveyance by which such corporeal hereditament is passed. {B}
FEOFFMENT TO USES
an early form of tax avoidance, and an important one, as it led to the creation of trusts, the abolition of feudal dues and to the devisability of land. As such, it might bear explanation. The term sometimes causes confusion because of the word "use", which does not mean "use" as is generally understood, but is the legal term for "benefit". With a feoffment-to-use, an estate was conveyed to a feoffee to hold to the use, i.e., for the benefit, of the feoffor or of a third party. At common law, which only recognised the holding of land, the the gift of any corporeal hereditament to another, operating by transmutation of possession, and requiring, as essential to its completion, that the seisin of the land was in the feoffee-to-uses. In the Court of Chancery, however, the feoffee was merely the nominal holder, the benefits having been agreed by the parties to belong to the feoffor or the third party (i.e., the beneficial owner, the "cestui que use" -- French, not Latin, for "he who benefits"). Under common law, of course, land was not devisable (disposable by will) but the "use", the beneficial ownership, was. This loophole in the law allowed the landholder to make conveyances to uses in secrecy by not going through the usual process of the public livery of seisin. The scheme, in effect, attempted to avoid escheat, to subvert the payment of feudal incidents (relief, wardship and mortmain) and to enable devises of land by will. The Statute of Uses, 1535, in an attempt to retain feudal dues, blocked feoffments-to-use by converting the use into the legal estate and making the cestui que use the legal owner. The Statute failed to destroy uses, however, because it was held that it executed only the first use. So, if the first cestui que use held the land on the behalf of a second, there was still an equitable estate. The second use came to be known as a trust and the feoffees as trustees. The Statute of Uses, in failing to abolish the devising of land, caused the Statute of Wills, 1540, to be produced which permitted the devising of all socage land and up to two-thirds of land held by knight service. The Tenures Abolition Act, 1660, made all land devisable, except that held by serjeanty. -- Ivor West
FEOFFMENT WITH LIVERY OF SEIZIN
an early English method of conveyance by which the transferor met the transferee at or near the land to be transferred and handed over a twig or clod while reciting to witnesses that the transfer was being made.{B}
FEOFFOR
a person who gives a fief 
FERCH
[Welsh daughter of] Also seen as 'verch' which is the English corruption of ferch
FERM
rent  
FESSE
[heraldry] a large horizontal stripe. A fesse cotised is a large horizontal stripe between two smaller stipes
FI FA
See FIERI FACIAS, next.
FICHT-WITE
the fine incurred for a homicide
FIDALGO
[Hispanic nobleman]  
FIDE
son of; also seen as fi de
FIEF
heritable lands held under tenure or fealty to a lord, and is also called a "holding"
FIERI FACIAS, writ of
[Latin that you cause [it] to be done] It is a form of court warrant authorizing property to be attached in aid of execution of a money judgment -- often called "fi fa" in courthouse shorthand. The sheriff's sale would follow the attachment, with the net proceeds going to the creditor.
FILIAM
[Latin daughter]
FILIOLUS

[Latin little son] godson

FILIUM
[Latin son]  
FIMBRIATED
[Heraldric] outlined
FINAL CONCORD
during the English Medieval period, a decision by a panel of judges, usually four, to render decisions usually regarding property disputes. The concord was made permanent and binding if uncontested for a year and a day. The record of the final concord was in three parts -- one to the plaintiff, one to the defendant, and the third bottom part called the feet of fines, went to the Royal Treasury.
FINAL PAPERS
petition for citizenship with supporting documentation filed by an alien in a court of law
FINES
Fines, or final concords, were conveyances of land by means of a legal action (normally fictitious after 1300), that resulted in a copy of the final agreement, or concord, between the purchaser, known as the querent, and the seller, known as the deforciant, being filed with the records of the king's court and open to public inspection. This final agreement was normally written out three times on a single sheet of parchment - two copies side by side and one copy across the bottom of the sheet, separated by an indented or wavy line. The purchaser kept one copy, the seller the other and the final copy - 'the foot of the fine'- was kept by the court as a central record of the conveyance. It was a means of having title registered to guard against subsequent fraud or forgery as copies if this three piece jig-saw would only fit together if genuine. There was no legal obligation to have title registered in this way. Often the fine is one of a series of conveyancing deeds some of which may give more detail about the property - such private deeds are less likely to have survived with the public records
FINIAL
a slender piece of stone to decorate the top of the merlons of a castle
FIREBOTE
wood granted by a lord to his tenants for fuel
FIRELANDS
a tract of land in northeastern Ohio reserved by Connecticut for its own settlers when it ceded its western lands in 1786. The state of Connecticut deeded land there to its citizens whose homes were burned during the Revolutionary War, therefore the territory became known as "fireland"
FIRST MONTH
for most legal purposes (from medieval times until 1752), the new year in England was held to begin on Lady Day, 25 March. But in accordance with the general custom, many took it to begin on 1 January, as in the Julian calender. {P}
FIRST PAPERS
declaration of intention filed by an alien in a court of law
FISCALINUS
a serf on a royal or ecclesiastical estate
FITZ
Fitz is the Norman French equivalent of "son of", having the same root as French "fils" and Latin "filius". The patronymic would change from generation to generation. Then came a soldification into a surname on the order of Johnson, Anderson. Some examples are FitzAlan, FitzGerald.
FLEM AND FLITTE [FLEMENEFRIT]
the royal privilege of receiving or relieving outlaws
FLAMEN
[Latin]  one of the 15 priests or flamines assigned to a state-supported god in the Roman religion.  They wore a leather scull cap-type hat called an apex and a heavy woolen coat called a læna.  There were two classes -- flamen maiores, who had to be patricians and flamen minores, who could be plebians.
         
From Wikipedia --
Flamines maiores:
Flamines minores:
FLET
home
FLEUR-DE-LIS
[Heraldry; French lily flower] a device consisting of a stylized three-petaled iris flower, used as the armorial emblem of the kings of France
FLOURIT
[Latin, he lives] in genealogy, used to describe the years during which an individual lived the the birth and death dates are not known..  Frequently shown as the abbreviation fl.
FLORY
[Heraldric] a series of fleur-de-lis
FLUX
bloody flux is a bloody diarrhea and is usually caused by the bacteria Shigella. It is most commonly spread by food contaminated with fecal matter. A possible source is apples off the ground in a field that included livestock
FLYMA
a fugitive  
FOEL
[Welsh bald] Also as moel.
FOLLES
Byzantine coins
FORATHE
a oath taken by plaintiff and defendant at the beginning of a suit
FOREBEAR
an ancestor, a forefather
FOREFENGUS
the right to recover stolen or strayed cattle
FORESTAL
offences committed on a highway
FORTALICE
[Latin fortalitia a little fort] an outerwork of a fortification
FORTELACE
see FORTALICE
FORTILAGE
see FORTALICE
FORTNIGHT
14 days
FOSTER
nourishment
FOSTERLEAN
payment for rearing a child
FOUNDLING
a abandoned baby
FRÆLLUS
a rush basket
FRANCISCANS
an order of friars founded by St. Francis of Assisi, emphasizing preaching.  Consequently, they were instrumental in establishing many universities.  They were also called friars minor, or greyfriars, for the color of their habit.
FRANKALMOIGN
land granted in exchange for prayers
FRANKMARRIAGE
see ESTATE OF FRANKMARRIAGE 
FRANKPLEDGE
a medieval English system under which each male member of a tithing, twelve years old or older, was responsible for the good conduct of other members. The lord had the right to call the freemen together in decennaries, or groups of ten, to hold each as a surety for the good of the others.  Violations were heard in Frankpledge Court.  Also called Tenemental.  See also VIEW OF FRANKPLEDGE.
FREDUM
a fine for disturbing the peace
FREE TENEMENT
tenures such as:
(1) knights' fiefs
(2) urban burgages
(3) holdings of free peasants
FREE WARREN
[Eng] the right to hunt small game on a property, usually granted by the King
FREEBORN
born as a free person
FREEDMAN/FREEDWOMAN
a man or woman is free either by birth, or having been freed from bondage or slavery, and is entitled to practice a craft or buy and sell within a town
FREEHOLD ESTATES
In the UK, prior to 1926, there were three types of freehold estates:
(1) Estates in fee simple
(2) Estates in fee tail (estates entailed)
(3) Estates for life  
FREEHOLDER
one who has a freehold estate, by holding land by fee simple, which is to hold a piece of property outright with no other claims on it. In colonial times, a freeholder had the right to vote and hold public office.
FREEMAN
one who held the full rights of citizenship, such as voting and engaging in business (as opposed to an indentured servant). In medieval times, a freeman, in the sense of a franklin, was a man, not of noble birth, who held his land in free socage as compared to one who held in base or villein socage.
FREIHERR
a Germanic title, which in medieval times meant one who had a free feif for which tenure one was not a servant in sensu stricto but a vassal. One had to fulfill his vassal duties
FRETTY
[Heraldric] like a woven web
FRIARS MINOR
see FRANCISCANS
FRIARS PREACHER
see DOMINICANS
FRIENDS
correctly called "The Society of Friends", the correct term for the Quakers
FRITH
peace
FRITHBRICE
breach of peace
FRUMGELD
first payment of wer
FRUMTHYTLE
first accusation
FUL
consecrated ground
FRYCH
[Welsh freckled]
FUERE
[Latin were]
FURS
[Heraldry] There are nine allowed furs: ermine, ermines, erminois, erminites, pean, vair, counter vair, potent (meirré), and counter potent
FURST
[Ger.] a ruling prince, as opposed to prinz, who was a titular prince.
FUSILS
[Heraldric] diamonds
FYCHAN
[Welsh young, junior] as in family relationship. See also vaughn.
FYRD
[Anglo-Saxon] organization of the military

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


Sources:

{A}The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

{B} Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Edition

{D} Dictionary.com

{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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