Definitions of Genealogical Words

banns – a public notice or announcement, usually in church, of an intended marriage.word picture

beneficiary – someone that benefits from something. It is often the person designated to receive proceeds or benefits from a will.

BMD – birth, marriage, death records.

census – a count of the population, usually includes various statistics about the population.

centenarian – someone who lives to be at least 100 years old.

Christian names – the first and middle name given to a child at birth or baptism. Also called the given name.

citation – 1) a formal reference to a source of information. 2) an official summons to appear before a court.

cite – to quote an authority.

codicil – a supplement to a will.

decedent – the deceased person.

deed – a legal transfer of title.

descendant – originating from an ancestor.

descendant chart – a chart that lists all the descendants of an individual.

dowry – the money or property that a woman brings to a marriage.

executor – the person responsible for carrying out the terms of a will.

hundred – an administrative subdivision that existed in southern English counties prior to the 1974.  Also used in Australia.

intestate – a person who dies without making a valid will.

issue – a person’s children or offspring.

JP – Justice of the Peace.

nee – identifies a woman’s maiden name, from the French word for born.

posthumous – after death. Sometimes children are referred to as posthumous, which means the child was born after the father’s death.

probate – a copy of a legally valid will, usually held by a regional court.

relict – the surviving spouse in a marriage.

Soundex – a filing system used in old US censuses where the family name was filed by the sound it made. It was used to cross-reference similar sounding names such as Smith and Smythe.

testament – written instructions in a will as to the disposition of property and the body of the deceased.

testator – the person who made the will.

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