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Know What That Means?



terms-dowry-chestGenealogical terms can be a bit confusing as well as key words found in vital records. So to help out, here are a few with their meanings.

Bann – used on marriage forms in the 18th and early 19th century referring to the intent or promise to marry. Many times a future groom or his family had to put up some money or property to prove he was serious about marriage.

GRO – In the United Kingdom their vital records are housed at the ‘General Registrar Office’, so these civil records for births-marriages-divorces and deaths can be found here.

Posthumous – a child born after the death of the father.

Transcript – This is a typed version of an original handwritten document. Problems which might arise, there are mistakes either in the typing or understanding the handwriting.

terms-femaleFEME – this refers to a female, lady, girl. If written FEME Sole, it is an unmarried female.

Paternal Line – family lineage of descent traced through your father’s ancestry.

Maternal Line – family lineage of descent traced through your mother’s ancestry.

Free Man of Color – An African-American or a black man who was never a slave, or freed at birth or freed later in life. Those freed at birth or later usually had written documents to prove the fact.

Vidua – Another term for a widow.

Viduus – Another term for a widower.

terms-free-man-of-colorProgenitor – a relative who is a direct lineage ancestor (parent-grandparent, great grandparent, etc).

SMM – Refers to a surname / family name.

Dowry (also Dowery) – practice for centuries when land, money, goods, or personal property was brought by a bride (usually from her father) to her husband when the couple married. Done many times with the items placed in a ‘Dowry Chest’

Good Sister and Good Brother – Another term for a Sister-in-Law and Brother-in-Law.

Late – refers to a person no longer living, deceased. Late used with the decease’s name.

Parent County – The original county from which a new county is formed.

Photos: 19th century Dowry chest; an early 1800 female (FEME); and 1700s – a free man of color.

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