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Oxfordshire Family History Society

Transcribed Wills - Glossary


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Updated 25 Feb 2017.
The older the will, the stranger the spelling, and it would be impossible to include every spelling of every word.
Users are recommended to mutter to themselves various pronunciations and stresses of an unrecognised word.
"Brandian", for instance (given a long "i"), may turn out to be "Brand(ing) Iron".


The English Reformation may be regarded as happening around 1530, the Dissolution of the Monasteries beginning in 1536.
Prior to that (and afterwards, for "recusant" Catholics), wills would often include mentions of "our Lady St Mary", which later disappeared.
The diocese of Oxford was created and detached from the diocese of Lincoln in 1542.
The then county of Berks was transferred from Salisbury diocese in 1836, and Bucks from Lincoln diocese in 1845.

Word

Meaning

MoneyAll sums are in pounds, shillings & pence (sd), written (before decimalisation) as x/y/z for x pounds, y shillings and z pence
 A Pound was 20 shillings, a Shilling was 12 pence.
 A Sovereign was a gold coin worth one pound (1/-/-) -- also Half-sovereign (10/-).
 A Mark was 13 shillings & 4 pence (13/4), two-thirds of a pound.
 A Noble was 6 shillings & 8 pence (6/8), one third of a pound.
 A Spur-royal was a gold coin worth fifteen shillings (15/-)
 A Guinea (gn) was a gold coin worth one pound & one shilling (1/1/-).
     Bequests of 19 guineas (19/19/-) are due to the introduction of inheritance tax from the 20 level.
 A Crown was five shillings (5/-) -- also Half-a-crown (2/6).
 A Florin was two shillings -- a Victorian attempt at decimalisation.
 A Groat was four pence (4d).
 A Farthing was a quarter of a penny.
 An Angel was a gold coin (value unknown at present)
Weights & Measures
EllA cloth measure, rather variable but usually around 40 inches.
Stone14 lb
Quarter28 lb (¼ hundredweight) [or] 8 bushels (perhaps originally ¼ ton of corn)
Hundredweight (cwt)112 lb -- one twentieth of a ton.
Bushel8 gallons (dry measure)
Peck2 gallons (dry measure), a quarter of a bushel
Acre4840 square yards
Rood¼ acre
Perch, Pole or Rod5½ yards [or] 30¼ sq yds (1/160 acre).
Furlong220 yards ("Furrow-long" -- the distance a plough-horse could pull before needing a short rest.)
Yard LandA measure of land area, often about 30 acres. Occasionally it can mean a half-acre.
Furndell, Ferundel, FarundelA measure of land area, about 10 acres or ¼ of a yard land.
 
General
AdemptionCancellation of a bequest by destruction or sale of the thing bequeathed.
AdvowsonThe right of appointing a clergyman to a church benefice.
AmbryA recess, cupboard, pantry etc.
AndironsIron bars to support logs in a fire. Firedogs.
Angelsee Money.
AnticipationPayment in advance of annuities etc. Usually telling Trustees not to allow it.
ArmigerA person entitled to bear arms. An Esquire.
ArrasRich tapestry, wall-hanging.
AssartForest land reclaimed for agriculture.
Attestation ClauseDeclaration by witnesses that they were present, with their signatures.
BacksidePremises at the back of a house.
BailiwickThe jurisdiction of a Bailiff.
BaldHairless or featherless; an animal having white markings on face or head.
BandAn agreement or promise; Security given.
Barrow pigA castrated boar.
Beasts, BeasseCattle
BilletA small log used as fuel.
Boulting [Mill or Vat]Machine for sifting bran from flour - Vat containing the mixture.
BowerAn inner apartment or private room; a dwelling.
Brewing LeadLead-lined vessel for cooling ale.
Bro(a)chProbably a roasting-spit.
BulchynBull-calf.
Burd clothTablecloth.
BushelSee Weights & Measures.
CalamancoSatin-twilled woollen fabric with chequered or brocade design woven in.
Calivera 16C firearm - an improved form of arquebus with a standard calibre.
Cart lineSoft but strong rope to guide horses, in place of reins. At the time, made from hemp.
Catall(s)As Chattels, but more personal implications - clothes etc. Also alt sp of Cattle.
Chafing dishDish for cooking over hot coals.
ChaforneAs Chafing dish.
ChamberUsually a bedroom.
ChantryPre-Reformation, a chapel (usually endowed by a rich family) where Masses were said for the souls of the family dead.
Chantry LandsA Chantry could be endowed with lands, the rent going to the upkeep of the chapel etc. After the Reformation, the lands were sold off.
ChargerLarge flat dish, as for a joint of meat. Not a war-horse.
ChilverEwe-lamb, maybe for breeding.
CiverShallow tub -- see also Dough Keever
CloseSmall enclosed field or other area.
CofferChest for holding money or valuables.
Concealed LandsPre-Reformation, the monasteries owned a lot of land. After their dissolution, much of it remained "concealed" or undiscovered, so that the crown could not collect the rent. Much effort went into finding and dealing with these lands during Elizabeth's and James's reigns.
ConsolsConsolidated Annuities -- government securities.
ConygeareDomestic rabbit-warren (various spellings)
CovertureThe status of a married woman considered as being under the protection of her husband. Not a chocolate coating.
DemiseTransfer by lease.
DeodandA personal chattel which had directly caused the accidental death of a human -- forfeited to the Crown.
DiaperLinen (or cotton) cloth with a square or diamond pattern.
DistraintSeizure of goods etc in payment of an overdue debt. "Sending in the bailiffs".
Dornick aka DarnexStrong figured linen damask, originally from Doornik (Tournai) in Belgium.
Dough keeverShallow tub with a dished lid for mixing and kneading bread.
DowerThe right of a widow to claim a life interest in one third of her husband's lands (aka "thirds"}
Dung potA low cart for transporting manure to the fields.
EllSee Weights & Measures
Executor's YearExecutor has one year to administer the estate without paying interest to the beneficiaries.
EyotA small island (also Ait).
Farthingsee Money.
Fee SimpleUnconditional inheritance.
FeoffTo grant possession of a fief (qv) or property in land.
FeoffeeThe person invested with a fief (qv).
FiefLand held in return for feudal service etc.
Fine, FyneA fictitious law-suit used as a means of conveying property or barring an entail.
Fire boteTenant's right to cut wood for firewood.
FlitchSide of bacon.
Flock mattressA mattress stuffed with wool - cheaper (and harder) than feathers.
FreebenchA widow's right to an endowment out of her husband's lands - also Dower, Thirds.
Fryse/FriezeRough heavy woollen cloth.
Fulling-millA mill in which new woollen cloth was cleansed and scoured to thicken it.
Furlongsee Weights & Measures above. Also used in naming fields and land areas within them.
Furndell, Ferundel, FarundelSee Weights & Measures
GoodyWife of a yeoman - more generally, a respected elderly village-woman.
Groatsee Money.
Guineasee Money.
GarnerGranary, or more generally a store of anything.
GorgetA neck ornament.
Grograma coarse cloth of silk and mohair.
GrosgrainA heavy corded silk material.
Hallowtide, HallontideFeast of All Saints, 1 Nov.
HeiferYoung cow
Hemp cardscombs for preparing hemp for weaving etc.
HereditamentAny property that may pass to a heir.
HeriotA "renewal fee" due to the Lord of the Manor on the death of a tenant. Originally his best beast or chattel.
HiglerA trader, often one who travelled.
Hogg, HoggerelYearling sheep, as yet unshorn.
HollandLinen fabric, originally fine, later coarse and unbleached.
Holyrood Day14 September.
HomestallHomestead, Farmyard.
HotchpotA commixture of property in order to secure an equable division amongst children.
House boteTenant's right to cut wood for repairs to his house.
Hovel[ling]Shed, also wood for sheds and framework of ricks.
HundredweightSee Weights & Measures.
InkleA braided linen tape.
ItemLatin for "Also" (when used at the beginning of a bequest).
Joined/JoynedOf furniture, constructed with proper woodworking joints.
Joint TenantHas non-specific share in property which cannot be left by will but passes automatically to survivor(s). Cf "Tenant in Common".
JointureProperty transferred by husband to wife at marriage, for her use after his death.
Keever, Kiversee Dough keever, Wort keever.
KilderkinSmall cask. Liquid measure of 18 gallons.
KirtleGown or outer petticoat.
Land/Half-landOne (or half) strip of an open (shared) field.
Latten/LattyneBrass or similar alloy; sometimes tin-plate.
Laving basinWashing basin.
Lease of LivesA vague period or term of a lease involving the lifetimes of three persons, usually the purchaser and two young people, not necessarily relatives. If one died, a fourth life could usually be added for an extra fee.
LeasowePasture, Meadow.
LeyArable land under grass or pasture.
LibertyArea within which certain privileges (legal or ecclesiastical) may be enjoyed.
Life LandLand held under a Lease of Lives (see above)
LiquidateTo turn assets into cash; To pay debts.
LockramType of coarse linen cloth, originally from Locronan in Brittany.
MaltGrain (usually barley) sprouted and dried. The basis of ale & beer.
Marksee Money.
Martinmas / MartlemasFeast of St Martin of Tours, Nov 11.
MaserOrnamental goblet
MaslinMixed grain (especially rye & wheat).
Mazard bowlperhaps Mazarine Dish, a cooking dish set inside a larger dish, like a double-boiler.
Mead(e)Meadow.
Measvate or MasvatVat for infusion of malt and barley.
MessuageDwelling with offices and adjoining land.
Milch (cow)Cow kept for milking
MockadoA Flemish cloth imitating velvet.
MoietyA part -- usually half.
Month's mindCommemoration (by Masses) one month after death or burial.
Muncke corn, MuncornMixed grain.
NakerOne of a pair of small mediaeval kettle-drums, later probably a measure.
Noblesee Money.
NuncupativeWill made orally and unsigned, before witnesses who later swore to it pre-Probate.
Parcel-giltPartly gilded.
PartletFemale neck-covering or ruff. A kind of shirt covering the neck and upper chest.
PeasonsPlural of pease (pea)
PeckSee Weights & Measures.
PeculiarA parish or church exempt from the jurisdiction of the Diocese within which it lies.
per stirpesIf one of a group of legatees dies, only his/her share is divided among his/her own children, rather than the whole being reallocated.
PightleA small enclosure or croft.
Pillow-berePillowcase.
PosnetA small cooking-pot with a handle and (usually) three legs.
PosyA small bunch of flowers. A motto (eg engraved inside a ring).
PottingerSmall bowl.
Powdring TubTub for sale & pickling meat.
PressA cupboard or shelved recess.
PurpartyA share of an estate left to co-heirs which is apportioned to one of them when the estate is divided.
QuarterSee Weights & Measures.
Quarter-DaysDays (derived from ancient Church Feast-days) when quarterly payments such as rents and annuities were (and still are) to be made.
English Quarter-days are 25 Mar Lady Day (the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary); 24 Jun Midsummer; 29 Sep Michaelmas (Feast of St Michael the Archangel); 25 Dec Christmas Day. Scottish Quarter-days are different.
Queen Anne's BountyFund (started 1703) for helping to support C of E clergy in poor parishes.
QuernHand-operated stone mill for grinding corn, malt etc.
RelictWidow (or widower, but rarely so used).
RenunciationOfficial surrender of Rights.
SainfoinA leguminous fodder plant.
SallowA variety of willow, the timber having specialised uses.
SaltSalt-cellar - a container for salt.
SarsenetA thin tissue of fine silk.
Sart(e)sSee Assart.
SarumOld name for Salisbury.
SaucerSauce dish.
Save harmlessProtect or indemnify [someone] against harm (often financial)
SearcerFine sieve or strainer
Sert(e)sSee Assart.
Shepick, Suppick etcA pitchfork, hayfork.
SirUsed as an honorific for local priests (as well as for Knights and Baronets)
SitheScythe.
Solar/SollerAn upstairs room.
Spur-royalsee Money.
Staddle(-stone)Mushroom-shaped stone construct used to support hay-ricks etc, to keep ground-damp and rats out.
Stall (of bees)A hive or skep.
SteerYoung ox or bull-calf, usually castrated, 2-4 years old.
Stell, stele etcProbably portable enclosures for stock.
StoneSee Weights & Measures.
Stryke, Strick(le) etcMeasure of grain or malt; also a tool for levelling the top of such a measure.
Table-boardA table-top. Tables commonly came with separate trestles.
Tail maleLimitation of inheritance to males.
Tallow-chandlerDealer in candles etc.
TegSecond-year sheep.
Tenant in CommonOwns specific share in property which can be left by will. Cf "Joint Tenant".
TenementDwelling or habitation, or part thereof. A holding.
TheaveYoung ewe.
ThirdsSee "Dower".
TickingThe cloth casing of a mattress, stuffed with feathers, flock etc.
TodA measure of wool, about 28lb.
ToftHomestead.
TreenSmall household articles made of wood.
TrentalSeries of 30 Requiem Masses.
Tusser, TussoreFawn silk cloth.
Twill(y)clothWoven cloth.
WainscotOak panelling on an interior wall.
Wainscot chestAn oak-panelled chest.
WeaningNewly-weaned (farm) animal.
WetherCastrated ram.
WortMalt liquor - part of the brewing process.
Wort keever, Wort panWort tub for brewing.
XpianChristian.
Yard LandSee Weights & Measures.
YeltYoung sow.
YoteTo pour water on, to soak.
 

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