A2A: Access to Archives. This is a useful website resource for family historians looking references to ancestors in catalogues of the archives held in county record offices.A person who is appointed to settle the estate of a deceased person who died Intestate (without leaving a will)

Administrator: A person who is appointed to settle the estate of a deceased person who died Intestate (without leaving a will)

Advocate : This is a Scottish lawyer who is qualified to plead before the higher courts of law, he corresponds to a barrister in England.

Abstract: A summary of a particular record or document; usually contains only the most important information from the original document; may be used instead of original documents in genealogical research.

AGRA : Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives. The Association was founded in 1968 as the Association of Genealogists and Record Agents. Its two-fold aims are to promote and maintain high standards of professional conduct and expertise within genealogy, heraldry and record searching and also to safeguard the interests of members and clients. It was renamed in July 2001, to reflect more accurately the nature and scope of members’ work, experience and knowledge. Membership is open to well-qualified professional researchers who have been engaged as genealogists or researchers in archives for a number of years, and who must agree to comply with a Code of Practice when accepting membership. Details of membership and application forms can be obtained from the Joint Secretaries, AGRA, 29 Badgers Close, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 5RU, www.agra.org.uk

Ag lab : An agricultural labourer

Ancestor: One who sits above someone on his or her family tree eg: a parent or grandparent.

Ancestral File: A computerised file of individual and family records, created from records and pedigree charts submitted to the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City since 1979. The purpose of the Ancestral File is to help people co-ordinate their research.

Annuitant: A person who receives an annuity, a guaranteed payment made yearly, either for life or for a specified number of years.

Apothecary: A druggist or pharmacist.

App: An apprentice.


Baptism: The ceremony admitting a person, generally, but not always, a baby, into a Christian church by pouring or sprinkling water on them or in some churches, by total immersion.

Baptismal certificate: A document created by a church of a baptism that took place on its premises. It generally contains the name of the baptised individual, the date of baptism, where it took place, the clergyman’s name, and the names of the parents. This should not be confused with a civil birth certificate.

Bastard: A baby born out of wedlock. In the past known also by such weird and wonderful names as: Bantling, Base, Base-born, Bastardus, Begotten in adultery, Begotten in fornication, Born extra, By-blow, By-chip, By-scape, By-slip, Chance begot, Child of shame, Come by chance, In sin begotten, Love begot, Lovechild, Merrybegot, Misbegotten, Son of no certain man, Spuriosus, Supputed son, Whoreson and many more.

Banns: Hardwicke’s Marriage Act in 1753, stipulated that all marriages from 1754 had to be by banns or licence. Banns registers, if they can be located, can often help to determine which church a marriage took place at.

Bishops’ Transcripts (often known as BTs) : From 1598, all copies of parish registers should have been sent in regularly by the local incumbent to his bishop. However, very few have survived from as early as this date, and there were none sent in during the commonwealth period of 1649-1660 . The ones that are still available are usually found at CROs or DROs

BL, BRA and BRS : British Library, British Records Association and British Records Society

BALH: British Association for Local History

BMD: Births, marriages and deaths.


Chronology: A date-based approach to family history, addressing each event in a time sequence.

Civil Registration Certificates : These are generated as part of the compulsory registration of births, marriages and deaths in Britain. In England and Wales they are available from 1 July 1837, Scotland from 1 January 1855 and Ireland from 1864 although protestant marriages were registered from 1845.

CofE: Church of England, this is the established church of England, also known internationally as the Anglican or Episcopal Church. It is to the local parish records that family historians turn for research purposes.

Commonwealth Period : Between the years of 1649-1660 during the time of Oliver Cromwell’s rule 

Conveyances : Documents generated as part of transferring property from one person to another

Cordwainer : A leather worker

Costermonger : A trader selling fruit and vegetables from a barrow

CRO and DROs : County Record Offices and Diocesan Record Offices.

CWGC : Commonwealth War Graves Commission


Directories: Local directories are books not unlike a modern phone book. Some of these will have street by street listings of inhabitants, others will list tradesmen and business firms. They can be found at the larger reference libraries, county council archives, or county record offices.

DND: Dictionary of National Biography. The standard biographical dictionary with detailed biographies of some 40,000 British notables.


EIC:East India Company.


FHC: Family History Centre, a network of over 3,000 centres world-wide provides access to the materials of the Family History Library, which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The centres are found in association with a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

FHS : Family History Society

FFHS : Federation of Family History Societies

FSFHS : Federation of Scottish Family History Societies

FWK: Framework knitter (a knitter of socks and stockings)


GEDCOM:A file within family history software programmes, which allows you to transfer data from one programme to another, without having to re-type the it.

Genfile : A pocket sized system of family history record sheets produced by G W Research, 2 Burleigh Road, St Ives, Cambs PE27 3DF

GOONS : The Guild of One-Name Studies

GRO Indexes: General Register Office indexes. Civil registration for births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales began on 1 July 1837. The main indexes are in book form and can be viewed at the Family Records Centre (FRC), 1 Myddelton Street, Islington, London EC1R. They can also be consulted on microfilm or microfiche at some reference libraries, or at a county archive or record office. They are also available to view on various sites on the internet. Records for Scotland commenced 1 January 1855. Records for all Ireland run from 1 January 1864 to 31 December 1921. After this, births, marriage and deaths in Northern Ireland are held at the Customs House, Belfast.


Higgler:An old word meaning a dealer (eg: a coal higgler)

Hon John Co: In the past, an often-used name for the East India Company (EIC)

Huguenots : 16th & 17th century French protestants who fled their country as a result of religious persecution. A great many settled in Britain


IHGS: The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies founded by Cecil Humphery-Smith at Canterbury, Kent. www.ihgs.ac.uk

IGI : International Genealogical Index (created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Independent: A person who lives without the necessity of working, or having help from others.

Intestate: Said of an individual who dies without leaving a will which specifies his/her wishes for the disposal of the estate in question.

IRCs : International Reply Coupons


Journeyman:A journeyman is between an apprentice and a master of a trade.


Kirk:A church, in particular, the Church of Scotland.


LDS Church:The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)


Microfilm or fiche:A widely used means of preserving records of genealogical value, microfilm or fiche is a very durable media with an estimated lifespan of more than 500 years when stored in the proper environment. Repositories such as the National Archives and the Family History Library make many rolls of microfilmed information available to researchers for viewing.

MI’s : Memorial Inscriptions (generally found on gravestones)

Mormons: A name used for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


NIWM:National Inventory of War Memorials

Nonconformists : People who did not wish to worship in the churches of the established religions (eg: Quakers, Jews, Methodists and Baptists


Obituary:A news report written about a recently deceased person; generally includes some biographical information such as age, birthplace, occupation, names of surviving relatives, place of residence, etc.

ONS: The Office for National Statistics, this is the Government department that issues copy certificates of births, marriages and deaths.


Pauper:A person who is destitute, one who is forced to rely on some form of charity or public provision.

PCC and PCY : Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Prerogative Court of York

PRONI: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 66 Balmoral Avenue, Belfast BT9 6NY www.proni.nics.gov.uk

Probate : The official proving of a will

PRs : Parish registers


Recognizances: Records of bonds which ensured that defendants, prosecutors and defendants appeared in court when needed.

Relict: A widow.

RCHME : Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England


SAGRA: The Scottish equivalent to the English AGRA and serving the same aims. For general enquiries write to: 51/3 Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh, EH9 2HN, Scotland

SOG: Society of Genealogists. Founded in 1911 and based at 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA. www.sog.org.uk


Testament:A will.

TNA: The National Archives, formerly the Public Record office, found at Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU www.nationalarchives.gov.uk


Witness:A person who signs his name to (or makes his mark) a document, attesting to the correctness of the statements or information in the document or that the principal’s signature is genuine. Often found on birth and marriage certificates.


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