Administrator's Bond. Bond posted by an administrator
to guarantee the proper
performance of his duties
Amish. conservative division of the Mennonite Church
Appurtenances. The rights and duties attached to the holding of land. The most important were submission to the manor court, grazing rights and the payment of various fines to the lord of the manor. A pew, or part of a pew, in church was often an 'appurtenance' of a specific house in the parish.
Ague. Recurring fever and chills of malaria
Armiger. An armiger is someone entitled to bear heraldic arms.
Ashman. Shipman or sailor
Assart. Land reclaimed from waste for agriculture [from 'to hoe, or weed']
Assignee. The person to whom a privilege or some property is signed over to by the court
Assistant Marshall. The census taker prior to 1880
Attest. To affirm; to certify by signature or oath.
Aum: An old Dutch and German unit of liquid capacity (as for wine) varying from 36 to 42 gallons.
Bad Blood. Syphilis
Bailiff. The manorial lord's representative and estate manager, but subordinate to the steward.
Banns. Publication or posting of the announcement of a coming marriage, a period of time before the actual marriage to allow advance notice to those that might have reason to protest. In most churches the banns were read aloud on three successive Sundays.
Bays & Says. A type of woolcloth made around Colchester with wool from Leicester.
Behoofe. Use, benefit, advantage.
Belhoste. Tavern keeper
Beverywcyk. Present-day Albany NY
Bilious Fever. Fever caused by liver disorder
Bishops Transcript. A copy of one year's entries in a Parish register, sent by the incumbent to his bishop, usually at Easter. Sometimes the actual register has not survived but the BT has.
Black Death. Typhus
Black Lung. Disease from breathing coal dust
Black Plague. Bubonic plague
Blockmaker. One who crafted pulleys
Bloody Flux. Dysentery
Bond. A binding agreement to perform certain actions or duties or be required to pay a specified sum of money as a penality.
Bondman. Person bound to provide labour, etc, to the lord of the manor, or other master
Borough. A self-governing incorporated town, larger than a village
Bounty land. Land promised as reward or inducement for enlisting in military service.
Brazier. Works with brass
Bright's Disease. Kidney disease
Bronze John. Yellow fever
Bundling. To sleep in the same bed while fully clothed, a practiced commonly by engaged couples in early New England
Burgher. A town resident with rights and privileges of the community, the most important being the right to trade
Burgher guard. Town or city militia
Burnisher. Polishes or shines metal
Capitation Tax. Tax on people, also called a head tax or poll tax
Carter. Maker or driver of carts
Castle. Fortified village
Castor. Hat maker
Catalepsy. Seizures or trances
Catarrh. Inflammation of mucous membrane or cerebral hemmorage
Cerebritis. Inflammation of cerebrum or lead poisoning
Chaffing dish. Chaffer. Small enclosed brazier containing hot coals, usually charcoal, for heating food and drink.
Chandler. Makes or sells candles; retailer of groceries
Chapman. A dealer in small items e.g. haberdasher. Sometimes travelling.
Chattels. Personal property, both animate and inanimate
Chilblain. Wwelling of the extremities caused by exposure to cold
Chin Cough. Whooping Cough
Chorea. Disease characterized by convulsions and contortions
Clan. A social unit in the Scottish Highlands, consisting of a number of families claiming a common ancestor and following the same hereditary leader
Clarke. Cleric or scribe
Clerk of the Market. From 1640 his power was restricted to the Verge (within 12 miles of the residence of the Court). On market days the Clerk attended from 10 am to sunset, and trading commenced and ceased on his announcement.
Close. (generally) Small area of enclosed land
Codicil. An addition to a will to record changes.
Cold Plague. Ague which is characterized by chills
Colic. Abdominal pain and cramping
Collier. A coal miner or a coal ship
Common. Area of land over which certain householders had defined rights of usage - in the 1965 Common Land Registration Act, people who thought they still held common rights had to register them
Common Law. A man and woman living together in a marital status without legal action. In some states living together for a specified period of time constitutes a legal marriage, even without benefit of legal action.
Congestive Fever. Malaria
Cony. Rabbit. Kept in conigers for food.
Consanguinity. Blood relationship
Convey. Transfer property or the title to property
Conveyance. A written instrument that transfers title to property from one party to another
Cooper. Makes and repairs barrels and casks
Coppice Keeper. One who takes care of small wood
Copyhold. The tenant was protected by title written on the manor court rolls, of which he was provided with a copy - hence the name of the tenure. When transferring the property the tenant first surrendered it to the lord who held the fee simple, and then the new tenant was admitted on payment of a fine.
Cordwainer. Pronounced 'cordner'. Generally a shoemaker or cobbler.
Cornet. The fifth commissioned officer in a troop of cavalry, who carried the colours; corresponding to the ensign in infantry.
Cousin. In colonial usage, it most often meant nephew or niece. In the broadest sense, it could also mean any familial relationship, blood or otherwise (except mother, father, sister, or brother), or the modern-day meaning of a child of one's aunt or uncle. Modern usage includes qualifiers such as first, second, third, once removed, twice removed, etc.
Court Leet. The term usually refers to a manorial court although it could also apply to a Hundred court. It dealt with petty offences such as common nuisances or public affray.
Cousin German. First cousin i.e. the child of an uncle or aunt.
Cramp Colic. Appendicitis
Crayman. Driver of a cart carrying heavy loads
Cretinism. Congenital hypothyroidism
Crop Sickness. Overextended stomach
Croup. Laryngitis, diphtheria, or strep throat
Culler. A person who grades animals for killing.
Currier. Tans leather; uses curry comb on horses
Curtesy. The life tenure which by common law is held by a man over the property of his deceased wife and has by her issue born alive who is capable of inheriting her estate; in this case, on the death of his wife, he holds the lands for his life, as tenant by courtesy
Customary tenant. One who has a right to occupy property continuously at a reasonable rent
Cutler. One who makes or sells knives, etc.
Declaration of Intention. Document filed by an alien in a court of record declaring his intention to apply for citizenship after fulfillment of the residency requirement. It may also be used to refer to an intent to marry, usually filed with the town clerk.
Deforciant. Defendant who deforces another or prevents him from inheriting an estate.
De Jure. Legal term for "by law" or "lawfully"
Delirium Tremens. Hallucinations due to alcoholism
Demesne. Those parts of the land and rights of a manor that the lord retained for himself, as distinct from those used by his tenants.
Demise. To convey by will or lease an estate either 'in Fee' i.e. hereditarily, or for a term.
Denizen. A foreigner permitted certain rights of citizenship
Deponent. One who makes a statement on oath (verbal or written) in connection with a legal case. Various wills.
Devise. To leave, by will, land as distinct from personal property. 'Bequeath' is used for the latter. Various wills.
Diptheria. Contagious disease of the throat
Diviner. One who finds water under the ground
Dornix. Linsey wolsey; also a heavy damask linen having a diaper figure (flowered or figured) formerly much used for church vestments, altar hangings, etc.
Dowager. A widow who holds title or property derived from her dead husband
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.
Dowser. Finds water under the ground
Draper. Dealer in cloth and dry goods
Drayman. Drives a cart carrying heavy loads
Dresser. Surgeon's assistant in a hospital
Dropsy. Edema, congestive heart failure
Dropsy of the Brain. Encephalitis
Drover. Drives animals to market; dealer in cattle
Drummer. Traveling salesman
Dry Bellyache. Lead poisoning
Dysentery. Inflammation of intestinal membrane
Dyspepsia. Acid indigestion
D.S.P. Died sine prole - died without offspring
Eclampsy. Form of catalepsy characterized by loss of reason
Edema. Swelling of tissue
Escheat. Property reverted to the state when no legal heirs or claimants
Esopus. Present-day Kingston NY
Estate. The whole of one's possessions; especially
all the property left by a deceased person
Farrier. Horse doctor, blacksmith who shoes horses
Fatty Liver. Cirrhosis
Fee Simple. Estate of land which the inheritor has unqualified ownership and power of disposition
Feet of Fines. These records contain judgements as to the ownership of land and property, quite often the result of collusive actions brought by parties to establish title in the absence of documents.
Feoffment. Transfer of land from one person to another.
Fine. Fee paid when conveying property - recorded in 'Fines Books', these form a means of tracing the changing ownership of houses and land over the years
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 terrirory became known as "fire land."
Fits. Sudden attack or seizure
Flat. Lowland on a river
Fleakes. (fleacks, felks) Hurdles, presumably for fence making.
Fletcher. Makes bows and arrows
Flock. Wool refuse used for stuffing mattresses and pillows.
Florin. A British coin, originally of silver, worth two shillings. The term can also the Dutch coin called a gulden
Flux. Discharge of fluid from the body
Freemen. There are three meanings to this word: a man who was free of trade taxes and who shared in the profits of the borough in which he lived and traded, a tenant who was free of feudal service and a man who had served his apprenticeship and who could then work at his trade in his own right. In the city of London nearly all freemen became so by virtue of being freemen of a City Guild. On attaining company freedom, a man would automatically apply for the freedom of the City. He was entitled to call himself 'Citizen'.
French pox. Syphilis
Friends. Correctly called "The Society of Friends", the correct term for the Quakers
Fuller. Cleans and thickens cloth
Gaol Delivery. A judicial hearing of the charges against
all prisoners awaiting trial in the area prisons. By a Commission of Gaol
Delivery, the king appointed certain persons justices and empowered them
to deliver his gaols at certain places of the prisoners held within them.
This commission was first issued to Justices in Eyre, but later to Justices
of Assize and of Gaol Delivery. It ordered them to meet at a certain place
and at a time
which they themselves could appoint, when the sheriff of the county would
bring all the prisoners of the area before them.
Garnish. A set of vessels for table use, especially of pewter. Garnish of pewter - complete set of twelve each of platters, dishes, saucers, cups and small flat plates. Often displayed on the cupboard head.
Gearing. Harness for horses, presumably to pull the wagons, harrows & plough.
Goodman. A solid member of the community who ranked above a freeman but below a gentleman on the social scale
Goods and Chattels. Personal property, as distinguished from real property
Goodwife. A woman married to a "gentlman." Often the title was shortened to "Goody." If you come across names such as Goody Cook or Goody Loomis, they are not first names but the abbreviation of a title
Gredyron. A gridiron, a platform of iron bars, with short feet and a long handle, for cooking meat over a fire.
Green Sickness. Anemia
Gregorian Calendar. The calendar in use today. Pope Gregory XIII ordered the replacement of the previous Julian Calendar in 1582, although it was not adopted by England and the American Colonies until 1752.
Guilder. Makes gold or silver coins. Also; abbreviation:
gl. Dutch coin (now called a gulden) used in 17th century Dutch colonies
of the New World. Six guilders equalled one English pound sterling
Hatchment. Funeral board with Arms painted on.
Hearth Tax. Tax on fireplaces, from 1662, abolished 1689.
Headright. Right to a certain number of acres (usually 50) of land guaranteed in advance for each settler in a new territory
Head Tax. Tax on people, also called a poll tax or capitation tax
Hereditaments. Property that can be inherited
Heraldry. The practice of devising, blazoning, and granting armoral insignia (coats of arms)
Hessian. German troops used by the British in the Revolutionary War.
Hide. Area of land on which a family was supposed to be able to exist - the actual area varied according to the locality or quality of the land, but was often considered to be 4 virgates (about 120 acres) - used as a measure for collecting taxes in the Domesday Book
High Sheriff. The highest ranking sheriff, as opposed to deputy sheriffs. This term was popular in England and Colonial America.
Hillard/Hiller. One who covers houses with slate
Hind. Farm laborer
Holographic Will. A document written entirely by the hand of the person whose signature it bears
Horrors. Delirium tremens
Hostler. Takes care of horses at an inn
Hovel. Open shed; outhouse for cattle, storing grain, tools etc.
Huguenot. French Protestants who fled from religious persecution. They first went to Prussia, the German Palatinate and then came to America. Those in the French West Indies escaped to the southeastern coast of America. Others went to England and Ireland
Hundred. Administrative unit deriving from 100 'tithings'
Husbandman. Usually a smallholder who may also have to work on others land to support himself, i.e. one below the status of yeoman.
Husslements. (Hustylment, hushelles, husoulment, householdments)
Minor household goods of little value; odds and ends.
Inclosure. Land enclosed from the 'waste' - typically by an Inclosure Act of Parliament
Indentured servant. One bound into the service of another person for a specified number of years, often in return for transportation to this country.
Infantile Paralysis. Polio
In-Law. Colonists used this term for any familial relationship that occurred from a marriage. Thus, a woman's father-in-law could be her husband's father or her stepfather. Her son-in-law could be her daughter's husband or her own stepson.
Intestate. One who dies without a will; One dying without a will.
Ironmonger. Dealer in iron goods
Jaundice. Condition caused by blockage of the intestines
Journeyman. A qualified tradesman working for someone else.
Joyned. (E.g. 'joyned stoole' & other furniture). Made by a joiner.
Julian Calendar. The calendar in use prior to 1752 (see Gregorian Calendar), created by Julius Caesar
Junior, Senior. These terms were used in early times
to differentiate between men (and sometimes women) with the same name whether
they were related or not. These titles were not permanent, but rather conveniences
in colonial families and communities.
Keller. Salt keeper
Kellogg. Slaughter man
Kettle. An open cooking pot or pan with semi-circular
handles fixed to both
sides, not the modern type.
Kil. Dutch word meaning stream or brook
Lay Subsidy. A tax on movable property.
Limner. Draughtsman or artist
Lock Jaw. Tetanus
Long sickness. Tuberculosis
Loyalist. A Tory (person who remained loyal to England during the Revolutionary War) who later moved to Canada or to another British possession
Lung Fever. Pneumonia
Lung Sickness. Tuberculosis
Lying in. Time of delivery of a baby
Manor. The district over which the court of a Lord of the Manor had authority
Marasmus. Similar to malnutrition, progessive wasting away
Marriage Bond. A document executed to guarantee that no legal or moral impediments existed to an intended marriage
Master. Today would be known as The Captain
Meet. Suitable, fit, proper.
Mennonite: The Mennonites were a Protestant sect formed in 1525 who were followers of Menno Simons, which arose from Swiss Anabaptists. They migrated to America by way of Alsace, England and Russia. They settled primarily in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Swiss Brethren: Same as Mennonite
Messuage. A dwelling house with the ground around it and any outbuildings.
Miasma. Poisonous vapors thought to infect the air
Milk leg. Postpartum thrombophlebitis
Milk Sickness. Disease from the milk from cattle which had eaten poisonous weeds
Millwright. One who designs or builds mills
Moccado - stuff made of wood and silk and apparently a mixture of either with flax, a substitute for more expensive velvet
Moiety. A half.
Moot Hall. Hallmoot. Another name for a manor court.
Moravian. The United Brethren is a Protestant group formed in Bohemia about 1415 which spread to Poland, Prussia, Germany and England
Morgen. Dutch unit for an area of land equal to two acres
Mr. A title that could only precede the names of gentlemen, clergymen, or government officials
Mrs. A feminine equivalent of Mr., it did not denote
marital status, but social position (women of the aristocracy)
Naked. A note made in a burial register when the corpse was unshrouded and the coffin unlined. This was sometimes the case with a poor family who could not afford the expense of a woollen shroud, or the payment of a fine for using any other type of cloth.
Now Wife. Exclusively found in wills, this term implied that there was a former (or ex-) wife
Nuncupative Will. An oral
will declared by the deceased before dying, in the presence of witnesses
Ordinary. Public house or tavern
Osler. Bird catcher
Outrider. Mounted attendant riding before or behind
Palatinate. The area west of the Rhine River in West Germany
Palatines. In 1688, Louis XIV of France began persecuting German Protestants from the west bank of the Rhine River. Queen Anne of England helped a group to come to America in 1708. More than 2000 arrived in New York in 1710 and settled along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers.
Pale. A stake for fence making.
Palsy. Paralysis or loss of muscle control
Parcel. A continuous stretch of land - typically given a reference number on 25 inch Ordnance Survey maps
Patent. Grant of land from a government to an individual.
Patronymic. System of identification of an individual using the father's first name and the predominant system used by the Dutch in the New World. The patronymic ending varies greatly, ranging from -sz, -szen, -sen, -se, all meaning "child of". "x" or "dr." was often used to represent a daughter, as in Aefie Harmensx or Aefie Harmensdr. meaning Aefie the daughter of Harmen. A man who was the son of a man named Cornelis might use the patronymic Cornelisz, Corneliszen, Cornelisen, or Cornelise.
Patroon: A title used for individuals authorized to establish plantations or colonies in Dutch New Netherlands. The patroon system of ownership was equivalent to a landowner being a feudal lord over his tenants. Also means employer.
Peel. A long handled broad shovel used for putting bread into an oven
Peever. Pepper seller
Per Stirpes. A method of dividing an estate so that children act as a group, rather than individually, taking what their deceased ancestor was entitled to
Perambulation of the Bounds. The Vestry had the responsibility of walking the bounds of the parish at Rogationtide - the three days before Ascension Day. The Incumbent, parish officers, prominent vestrymen and a good many schoolchildren employed for the occasion, armed with the authority of a wand of office, checked that boundary stones were in position and that no buildings encroached, unrated, on parish territory.
Phthiriasas. Lice infestation
Phthisis. Chronic wasting away, tuberculosis
Pillow beers. (Also pillow codds & pillow drawers) - Pillow cases.
Pipe Roll. The Great Roll of the Exchequer, containing yearly accounts of sheriffs, etc [named from the pipe-like appearance of the rolled documents]
Pleurisy. Inflammation of the lung, chest pain
Poll. List or record or persons, esp. for taxing or voting; one head or taxable person.
Porringer. Bowl for soup or porridge.
Progenitor. 1. A direct ancestor. 2. An originator of a line of descent.
Porter. Gate-keeper or door-keeper
Pott's Disease. Tuberculosis of the spinal vertebrae
Primary Record. A record created at the time of the event (birth, marriage, death, etc.) as opposed to records written years later
Primogenitor. The earliest known ancestor or forefather
Primogeniture. The right of the eldest child (especially the son) to inherit the estate of both parents
Puerperal exhaustion. Death from childbirth
Putrid Fever. Diptheria or typhus
Remitting fever. Malaria
Rickets. Disease of the skeletal system
Rower. Builder of small wagon wheels
Scarlet Fever. Disease characterized by a red rash and sore
Schepen: Dutch magistrate. The schepenen (plural) was
in charge of administrative, legislative and judicial matters. Can also
mean Alderman used in the south of Holland, or Flanders
Schout: Dutch court official who investigated crimes and made arrests. Sheriff
Scrivener. Scribe or clerk
Scrofula. Tuberculosis of the neck lymph nodes
Scots-Irish. The descendants of the Presbyterian Scots who had been placed in the northern counties of Ireland by British rulers in the early part of the 17th Century. Most came to America from 1718 until the Revolution. They settled first in PA, then moved south and then westward to the frontier.
Scurvy Weakness. spongy gums, hemorrhages under skin due to lack of vitamin C
Secondary Record. Or secondary source; a record created some time after the event
Seawan. Also called wampum. A form of coinage in New Netherland. Originally wampum referred to shell strings which were used as tokens of leadership or nobility in the Iroquois Confederacy. weesmeester: orphan master appointed by the courts to administer the inheritance of minors
Shakes. Delirium tremens
Shingles. Viral disease with skin blisters
Ship's Fever. Typhus
Shopps. House or building where goods are made or prepared for sale and sold.
Sic. Latin. thus; copied exactly as the orginial reads.
Siriasis. Enflammation of the brain due to sun exposure
Skomar. Skimmer; either of iron for taking the ashes from the hearth, or of other metal for use as a cooking ladle.
Sloes. Milk sickness
Sollars. Upper room in house etc. e.g. attic.
Spotted Fever. Typhus, cerebrospinal meningitis fever
Sprue. Tropical disease characterized by intenstinal disorders and a sore throat
Spytt. A spit. For roasting meat over a fire.
St. Vitus Dance. Nervous twitches, chorea
Standard. A chest; the upright stem or support of a lamp or candlestick
Stranger's Fever. Yellow fever
Stirk. Usually between one & two years old, also sterke & styrke (applying to a heifer).
Stupuet. A stew pan or skillet
Surveyor of the Highways. (Overseer of the Highways, Boonmaster, Stonewarden, Waywarden etc.). A parish officer established by the Highways Act 1555. He was unpaid and appointed from among the parishioners. Obliged to survey the highways three times a year and organise the statute labour that was provided by landholders to repair the roads, or else collect the money commutations.
Sutler. Accompanies troops in the field or garrison and sells food, drink, and supplies
Sweating Sickness. Infectious & fatal disease common
to the UK in the 15th century
Tallow Chandler. A person dealing in Tallow, possibly a Candle maker, using animal fat.
Tarletan. A thin, stiff, transparent muslin
Tenement. A holding of land and buildings.
Tithe. A tenth of the produce of land and stock (ie. payment in kind), allotted originally for church purposes - later commuted to a rent-charge (ie. payment in money) - finally commuted to a lump-sum redeemable by instalments up to AD 2000
Tithing. Derived from 'ten householders', each of whom lived on a 'hide' of land - historically there were then 100 tithings to a 'hundred'
Tithingman. A group of men or boys held responsible to the manor court for its members' good conduct. The elected representative of the tithing was the Tithingman.
Toft. A Messuage, or rather a Place or Piece of Ground, where an House formerly stood, but is decayed or Casually burnt, and not re-erected [Sir Thomas Gatehouse, 1774]
Tory. A resident of the American Colonies who remained loyal to England during the Revolutionary War (see Loyalist)
Trade Tokens. Tokens issued by traders in times of coin shortage, usually brass or copper.
Trammel. A series of rings or links, or other device, to bear a crook at different heights over a fire; the whole being suspended from a transverse bar (the crook tree), built in the chimney.
Treen Ware. Wooden ware - made from trees.
Trench Mouth. Painful ulcers along gum line, usually caused by poor nutrition and poor hygiene
Trevytt. A trivet.
Truckle Bed. Trundle bed with casters to run under a higher bed
Trug. A basket with fixed handle like an old american
woven wooden grape
Tunnel. A funnel
Turnout. An equippage, a carriage with horses, attendants, and equipment
Tussis Convulsiva. Whooping cough
Typhus. Infectitious fever characterized by high fever,
headache and dizziness
Virgate. Area of about 30 acres [name derives from the Latin word for a rod]
Virginalls. (pair of) Keyed musical instrument, popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, similar to a spinet but without legs, played on a table.
Visitation. Heralds visitations took place from 1530
onwards to check on peoples claims to bear arms. Ecclesiastical visitations
by archdeacons or bishops checking on the conduct etc of their parishioners.
Warranty deed. Deed in which the settler of the property guarantees a clear title to the buyer.
Waste. An uncultivated area of land
Water bailiff. An officer in seaport towns who was empowered to search ships for contraband etc.
Waynscotte. Wooden panelling used to line the walls of a room. The word also used for panelled chests, chairs etc.
Wheelwright. A person who builds wagon wheels
Whitcher. Maker of chests
Whitesmith. One who finishes and polishes; tinsmith
Winter Fever. Pneumonia
Worm Fit. Convulsions associated with teething, worms, elevated temperature or diarrhea
Wool. Burying in Woollen Act, passed in 1660 and reinforced in 1678, to support the woollen trade by making it an offence to wrap corpses or line coffins in any material other than wool. The only bodies exempt were those of people who had died of plague.
Woolstapler. A merchant who buys wool from the producer,
grades it, and sells it to the manufacturer.
Yeoman. Farmers who would work on their own land as either freeholders or tenants. Husbandmen would tend to have less land.
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