Genealogy Terms P - T

If you're just starting out, or have been researching for a while and have come across a word you're not familiar with, check our list below. If it's not listed, please feel free to send it on to us at and we'll research it's meaning and add it to our glossary.
Words starting the letters P through T:
Post (after).
Originally a parish was the ecclesiastical areas served by a church.
Parish chest
A triple-locked chest in which parish documents were kept.
Parish records
Transcripts of church records, which date back to 1538. The Phillimore series cover marriages from mainly southern areas. The parish coverage is given in the book "Index to Parishes in Phillimore marriages" by M. E. Bryant Rosie. These are complemented by various other transcripts done by the Register Society, which contain baptisms and marriages.
US and state governments encouraged settlement with various offers of free land in exchange for certain conditions, such as living on the land for a certain number of years and improving it with trees or structures. A key to westward expansion, the Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres of federal government land to those who'd settle and improve it for five years. This generated paperwork, including a land claim (or application) and the patent transferring the land to the claimant once the conditions were met.
Portable Document Format files are created, which allows you to view books and other documents as computer-based material. These can have search facilities, bookmarks, and include multimedia items.
Pedigree Chart
A chart that shows the ancestors from whom you directly descend.
Pedigree Collapse
A term created by Robert C. Gunderson to describe how marriages between cousins or other relatives, deliberate or unknowing, make family trees smaller than they theoretically could be. 
A searchable “database” of images or photographs – e.g. and
Not just for genealogy, this is a word formed from “iPod” (the popular music player from Apple Computer) and “Broadcasting” A method of publishing audio files to the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Search Google for “genealogy podcasts.”
Poll (or head) tax
Issued by colonial and antebellum counties and towns, this was a set, uniform amount that adult males were assessed beginning at age twenty-one (sixteen or eighteen in some areas) and continuing until they reached a set age, customarily fifty or sixty.
A process by which land went to the eldest son, and only went to daughters if there were no sons.
The process of executing the terms of a will or settling by the administrator.
The chief clerk in courts of law for certain jurisdictions; may house naturalization petitions and other court proceedings.
The Religious Society of Friends was founded in the 1600s and is one of the oldest Nonconformist denominations.
A release; an intention to pass title, interest, or claim that the grantor may have over the premises.
A land tax typical of the colonies of New York and the South, assessed by the ruler of the colony to increase revenue.
Relinquishment                           of Dower
Giving up the Dower, which was a 1/3 life estate in property, in favor of a "child's portion," which varied with the number of children, but had a monetary value and could be sold.
A person(s) who inherits a Future Interest.
Goes back to the owner.
Salvation Army
A non-military Christian organization, founded in 1865 by William Booth.
In Scotland, a legal document that records the transfer of ownership of a building or piece of land. Sasines are useful for family researchers because they may include information about other members of a family.
in the Census, a child was described as a scholar if he/she was over 5 and receiving daily schooling or regular tuition at home.
A heraldic term for the left-hand side of a coat of arms as seen from the back.
Soundex is a coding system used by the government. Names are given code numbers which indicate the "sound" of a name versus the actual spelling of a name. The government used this system in some of the Census records as well as the passenger lists of ships arriving in the U.S.A. This Sounde System enabled people to search for ancestors when several different spellings of surnames were recorded.
Stem family
All direct ancestors and descendents.
Were sometimes called mothers-in-law.
Is one related by virtue of a parent’s marriage to an individual with children by a former marriage or relationship. While there is no relation by blood, there can be strong ties of emotion and tradition between step-siblings.
Stranger in Blood
In the law of United States and the Commonwealth, a stranger in blood is someone mentioned in a will who is not related by blood to the testator. It is therefore the opposite of next of kin.
Written surveys or inventories of land belonging to an estate.
With a will.
(Time to Most Recent    Common Ancestor)
An estimate of the amount of time between two males and their most recent paternal ancestor, calculated using differences between the two haplotypes.
One-tenth of a person's annual income paid in produce or as a money payment for the support of the Church and clergy.
Broadly interpreted, any tax or assessment of one-tenth. Tithable may be synonymous with taxable. A tithing man was the constable. In colonial Virginia, the tithe was imposed on the personal property of males of productive age, as established by legislative act—variously sixteen to twenty-one years of age.
The process of copying an original document into another form.
The shipping of convicts to penal colonies.
The generic term commonly referring to the relational structure of family information.
twp Township
Updated: 16 May 2020
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