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Dictionary of Genealogy & Archaic Terms

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Updated:

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.

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

 

NAIFTY

the state of being born into serfdom  

NATIVI

[Latin, born] a serf or bondman.  Also seen as nativi domini. 

NATIVI DE SANGUINE

[Latin, born of blood] children, but possibly a widow, of a deceased serf.  They were required to fulfill the feudal contract contract of the serf.

NATUM

[Latin] born

NATURALEM

natural

NATURAL CHILD

not recognized by law as lawful offspring; an illegitimate child. See also Base Born.

NATURALIZE

to grant full citizenship to one of foreign birth

NECROLOGY

register book of deaths

NEE

[French, born] signifying a woman's maiden surname

NEHGS

New England Historical & Genealogical Society. Their magazine is the Register (NEHGR).

NEIF

a female serf

NEPHEW

practically the same usage as today, except in very old records it could also mean niece. In Middle English it meant grandson or granddaughter

NEPOS/NEPTIS

[Latin, nephew/niece] during medieval times, it could mean a variety of blood relatives including nephew, grandson, or cousin

NGS

National Genealogical Society

NICKNAME

an unofficial name given to a personin addition to the original name

NUNCUPATIVE WILL

an oral will declared by the deceased before dying, in the presence of witnesses, and transcribed by another.

NOBILISSIMUS

[Latin] in the 3rd century AD, a title to describe the emperor's eldest son.  By the 4th century, it became an independent title, with a dignity just below Cæsar, but was still confined to the imperial family.  Later in medieval times, the term "nobility" or part of the royal, developed from this concept.  

NOBILITY

families of high and hereditary rank. Often descended from younger sons of kings. Often the only families which royalty would marry into. In the English system today, the head of a noble family is a duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron 

NOBLE

(1)   see NOBILITY above

(2)   [archaic] distinguished by virtue of position, character or exploits {O}

NOBLE MAN

In the early medieval period, the term in England was reserved for someone of high birth or their family.  This would include princes, dukes, earls and knights of great wealth.  However, from the 1400s men of lesser knightly or gentry were addressed as “noble man”.  This can be seen in the Papal Registers, and generally in the French form as “noble homme”.  – Douglas Richardson, GEN-MEDIEVAL, 13 Dec 2011

NON-TITHABLE

In 17th and 18th Century Virginia, those persons not tithable. Reasons for being exempt from tithe included:

(1) Being a white woman
(2) Not being a citizen of Virginia
(3) Being a political employee -- everything from a constable to state governor
(4) Being a professor at a college
(5) Being a minister of the Gospel
(6) Being a soldier or sailor
(7) Being old or infirm -- the person was exempted by applying to the county court so records of those exempt for this reason can be found in the court order books
(8) Being a ferryman
(9) Being a non-resident -- the tax was imposed only once, so if a man owned property in two counties, or in two different "quarters" in one county, he was exempt from the tithe except at his place of residence

NONE

part of the monastic timetable for liturgy, called horarium.  This worship service typically occurred between 1pm-2pm in winter and 2pm-3pm in summer

NONES

[Latin] under the Roman calendar, the 7th of the month in March, May, July and October; the 5th in the remaining months

NONPATERNITY EVENT

a change in birth surname of an individual due to adoption, illegitimacy, or deliberate name change

NOTARY

a person officially authorized to draw up or attest to contracts, wills, deeds, or similar documents, to protest bills of exchange

NOVEM

[Latin] nine

NOVERCA

[Latin] the other wife, or step-mother, depending on the point of reference

NOVICE

a member of a religious house who has not yet taken final vows

NOW WIFE

exclusively found in wills, this term implied that there was a former (or ex-) wife, although it sometimes had the meaning simply that the wife listed was the current, but possible only won the testator had

NUPTUALAE

[Latin] bride/wife

NUBER HUC ADVENTIS

[Latin] recently arrived here

NUDUS MILES

            [Latin] a simple squire not wearing full armor

NUMMUS

[Latin] coins

NURUS

[Latin] usually daughter-in-law, although occasionally seen as mother-in-law, which is usually 'socrus

'.

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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