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"Antique" Words Found in Old Wills
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Abstract. Summary of documents, esp. deeds and wills.

Accomptant. Accountant

Administrator's Bond.  Bond posted by an administrator to guarantee the proper
performance of his duties

Amish. conservative division of the Mennonite Church

Annus. Year

Apoplexy. Stroke

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.


Backsyde. Back yard, outbuildings etc. attached to a dwelling.

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.

Barrister. Lawyer

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

Boniface. Innkeeper

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


Canon Law. A law of the church

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

Chiffonier. Wigmaker

Chilblain. Wwelling of the extremities caused by exposure to cold

Chin Cough. Whooping Cough

Chirugion. Apothecary

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

Consumption. Tuberculosis

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.

Corruption. Infection

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

Crowner. Coroner

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.


Dareman. Dairyman

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.

Defunctus. Dead

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

Domine. Minister

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

Duffer. Peddler

Dysentery. Inflammation of intestinal membrane

Dyspepsia. Acid indigestion

D.S.P. Died sine prole - died without offspring


Ecclescia. Church

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


Falling sickness. Epilepsy

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.

Filia/Filiam. Daughter

Filius/Filium. Son

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

Flauner. Confectioner

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


Galloping Consumption. Pulmonary Tuberculosis

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.

Gripe. Influenza

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


Haberdasher. A dealer in, or maker of hats and caps. Later a dealer in thread, ribbons and other small wares.

Hawker. Peddler

Hatchment. Funeral board with Arms painted on.

Hearth Tax. Tax on fireplaces, from 1662, abolished 1689.

Headborough. Constable

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.

Hibernia. Ireland

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.


Impressment. The act of seizing people or property for public service or use

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


Jail Fever. Typhus

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.


Keeler. A cooler, a broad shallow wooden vessel, where milk was set to cream or wait to cool

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


Lardner. Official in charge of pig food

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


Malster. Brewer of malted beverages (beer)

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




Oath of Abjuration. Sworn statement renouncing a former allegiance

Ordinary. Public house or tavern

Osler. Bird catcher

Outrider. Mounted attendant riding before or behind a carriage


Packman. Itinerant peddler

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

Paroxysm. Convulsion

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

Podagra. gout

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

Pox. Syphilis

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


Quearne. A handmill for grinding grain or seed

Quicksett. Hedge.

Quissions. Cushions.


Redemptioner. A colonial emigrant from Europe to North America who paid for his voyage by serving as a bondservant for a specified period of time after arrival

Relict. Widow.

Remitting fever. Malaria

Rickets. Disease of the skeletal system

Rower. Builder of small wagon wheels


Sawyer. Sawer of wood

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

Screws. Rheumatism

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

Sempster. Seamstress

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.

Spicer. Grocer

Spotted Fever. Typhus, cerebrospinal meningitis fever

Sprue. Tropical disease characterized by intenstinal disorders and a sore throat

Spurius. Illegitimate

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


Tainters. Wooden framework on which cloth was stretched after milling, so that it would dry evenly and without shrinking.

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.

Tripper. Dancer

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
basker

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


Vintner. Wine merchant

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.




Walloon. Walloons are from southern Belgium. The language of the Walloons is a dialect of French. Cornelis May of Flanders, Holland and about 30 to 40 families came to America in 1624 and established Fort Orange. This town is now known as Albany, NY.

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

Whitlow. Boil

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.


Yellow Jacket. Yellow fever

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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