11 July 2017

Genealogical Vocabulary Words and Phrases


This past month, client projects and researching my own family history had me looking up words and phrases I wasn't familiar with.  I thought I'd share a few of the more interesting ones with you.


Dilling - a baby born to older parents.

Recital - a general term used most frequently in deeds to describe the reason that a contract is being drawn.  It may indicate a relationship between the parties involved or a relationship with a previous owner.

Willow Bench - a share of a husband's estate enjoyed by his widow, besides that which was held jointly.

Purchased Court - a session not on a regular court schedule.  The costs of this session were paid for by either the plaintiff or defendant rather than the government.

Writ of Inquiry - an order to the sheriff which directs him to determine, with the help of a jury, damages which cannot have a dollar and cents value placed on them.

Eaton Code - in 1657,  this practical interpretation of biblical law was published in London.  Each household in New Haven, Connecticut was required to own a copy.

Writ of Venditioni Exponas -  an order to a sheriff to sell goods of a person who owes the court money.

Cohabitation Record - usually found in a county office which states the legal married status of emancipated slaves.  These records were made at the end of the Civil War.

Window Peeper -  the district tax assessor.

Nugging House - brothel.

Witness Corner or Witness Tree  -  a surveyor's mark.  A tree or rock on which is carved a reference plus the initials "w.c." to the corner of a tract of land.

Court of Errors - this was the highest court in the state of New York from 1784-1846, when it was abolished.  Its records are held by the New York State Archives.

Timber Right - to own the trees, but not the land upon which they grow.

Sufferer's Land -  land in Erie County and Hudson County, Ohio given to citizens of several Connecticut coastal towns whose property was burned by the enemy, with the assistance of Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War.  

Woods Colt  -  a child born out of wedlock.

Cordon Bleus - children of a relationship between a black woman and a Frenchman.  These children were usually wealthy enough to have been educated in France, but were not accepted by either black or white society.

In Terrorem Clause - the statement in a will which says that a person may or may not do a certain thing or he will be disinherited.

Every day I learn something new.  Have you come across words or phrases in your genealogical research that had you scrambling for a dictionary?
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