Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Liber, Folio et al

Genealogy is a great way to introduce you to or to review Latin vocabulary. When searching land records, you are likely to come across few terms. Here are translations for the most often used.

Every document that comes to a registry for recording is copied and placed more or less chronologically into a book, often referred to by its Latin name, liber. The pages of the book may be called folios. This blog will refer to book and page numbers to identify deeds, not liber and folio numbers.

Et al is an abbreviated form of the phrase ‘et alia,’ Latin for “and others.” If more than one person owned a piece of property, the registry clerks might index all the names on the document, but in some circumstances, only use the name of the first person listed on the deed, followed by ‘et al’ or ‘et alia.’

Et uxor is Latin for “and wife.” The grantors and grantees might be written as “John Doe et uxor” on deeds in certain times and places. You may find it shortened to ‘John Doe et ux.’ Today wives are identified by their full name, since they take a more central part in the transactions legally.

Latin phrases will appear in other genealogical documents, and you can use www.translate.google.com to help you. Familysearch.org and about.com have Latin word lists for genealogists. To find these sites quickly, just google ‘Latin for genealogists’.  If you have no Latin background, you may want to take the time and effort to study the twelve tutorials for beginners at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/latin/beginners. The examples in the lessons are from genealogical documents and are interesting themselves. Fair warning, with four years of high school Latin, I found the first three lessons more challenging than I would have predicted.

The web sites listed in the last paragraph will take you way beyond a simple deed which usually only used the terms I defined above. Now you will know where to look for definitions of church related terms used in baptism, marriage and death records in early England.

©2011, Susan Lewis Well

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