Here I share some random information that might prove useful to others. First, a list of links to posts I’ve written:
- Glossary of Colonial Terms
- How to Care For Old Photos in Your Collection
- Revolutionary War Vocabulary
And some really random info that doesn’t merit its own page.
Alphabets and Handwriting
Alphabet Chart for Handwriting Styles
I found this in my files. I do not know where it came from or who compiled it. Click on the image to see a larger view or download a pdf.
American Colonial Alphabet
In the 18th century, there were only 24 letters in the alphabet; the letters i/j and u/v were used interchangeably. There was only one upper case letter for each, and there was no recognized pattern for using lower case letters.
Quill Pens and Writing
In the 18th century Americans used used quill pens, often home made. Toward the end of the 1700s, people purchased sharpened or unsharpened quills in bundles. The point of the quill pen, called the nib, wore down quickly and needed frequent sharpening.
Ink was made from crushed walnut or other nut shells and water or berries mashed and mixed with water.
Writers aimed for a graceful, flowing script. Elegant penmanship was sought after while poor handwriting was frowned upon. It was thought that one’s character–whether lazy, unreliable, competent, or hard-working–was reflected in one’s penmanship. Spelling, however, was executed phonetically.
From 1190 to 1752, the Julian calendar was used in England. In 1751 England switched to the Gregorian calendar.
These are terms you often find in deeds, court records, indentures, wills, etc.
- Agreeable to
- in accordance with.
- An assumpsit is an undertaking either express or implied, to perform a parole agreement. Thus, a debt due by assumpsit is a debt due because of an implied or express agreement (not in contract form).
- Literally, ‘that you take.’ Several writs and processes commanding the sheriff to take the person of the defendant are known by the name of capias.
- de bene esse
- Literally, “good for the present.” A technical phrase applied to certain proceedings which are deemed to be well done for the present, or until an exception or other avoidance (i.e., ‘conditionally’).
- land of the manor that was retained by the lord of the manor
- an old common-law form of action to recover possession of personal property
- a written agreement between two or more people, usually in two identical parts, each signed by one of the parties; a deed
- a half, usually a half-share of a deceased’s estate
- Next friend
- representative; someone who acts for the benefit of a person who is underage, or otherwise handicapped in the process of a legal cause. For example, a minor could not bring a suit to court, so a “next friend” would bring suit on behalf of the minor.
- term used for an individual’s land or plantation—a region, district, or place associated with a landowner.
- Quitam (or Qui tam)
- Literally, “who as well.” Latin abbreviation for “Who sues on behalf of the King as well as for himself.” An action under a statute that establishes penalties for certain acts or omissions that can be brought by an informer or and in which a portion of the penalties, fines, awards can be awarded the whistleblower. When a statute imposes a penalty, for the doing or not doing an act, and gives that penalty in part to whosoever will sue for the same, and the other part to the commonwealth, or some charitable, literary, or other institution, and makes it recoverable by action, such actions are called qui tam actions, the plaintiff describing himself as suing as well for the commonwealth, for example, as for himself.
- an action originating in common law by which a plaintiff, having a right in personal property claimed to be wrongfully taken or detained by the defendant, seeks to recover possession of the property and sometimes to obtain damages for the wrongful detention. It is also a procedure allowing the plaintiff a provisional remedy to take possession of the property prior to judgment on the action.
To replevy is to regain possession of property by a writ or motion of Replevin.
A Replevin Bond is a bond given by a plaintiff in a replevin action to cover losses to the defendant or court officer seizing the property in the defendant’s possession which is put up to pay defendant’s or the court’s costs in the event that the plaintiff loses the case.
- Scire facias
- a writ commanding a person “to cause it to be made known” why the other person should not have the advantage or restitution he is claiming.
Latin Versions of words often found in records:
Janner, Wintermonat = Januar
Hornung = Februar
Lenzmonat = Marz
Ostermonat = April
Weide – Wonnemonat = Mai
Brachmonat = Juni
Heumonat = Juli
Erntemonat = August
Herbatmonat = September
Weinmonat = Oktober
Winden – Wintermonat = November
Christ – Wintermonat = Dezember
In England the practice of giving a child two Christian names started in the 18th century and became widespread in the 19th.
In America a pattern for naming children, although not always followed, may help you identify relatives across generations.
The first son was usually named after the father’s father.
The second son was usually named after the mother’s father.
The third son was usually named after the father.
The fourth son was usually named after the father’s eldest brother.
The fifth son was usually named after the mother’s eldest brother.
The first daughter was usually named after the mother’s mother.
The second daughter was usually named after the father’s mother.
The third daughter was usually named after the mother.
The fourth daughter was usually named after the mother’s eldest sister.
The fifth daughter was usually named after the father’s eldest sister.
Source: Mary Marshall, Upper Cumberland Genealogical Society.
Latin versions of Christian names
William: Gulielmus or Willelmus