Genealogy Terms F - J

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 F through J:
Family tree
A graphic representation of the ancestral lines of a family or one person.
Fire insurance records
The 17th, 18th and 19th century records of insurance policies of companies operating in London, England. Family historians can find much information as these policies often contain information to individual's names, status, occupations, address of the policyholder, details of the property insured, and names of tenants.
Fleet marriages
In England, these were marriages pereformed at Fleet Prison up to 1754.
In the South this was usually a freed slave.
In New England, it usually meant a land owner, church member, entitled to vote.
In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, it usually meant a bachelor over 21 years of age.
Term used in a lawsuit, where the plaintiff is "next" or "best" friend of another person. This was a family member, not a parent, grandparent or brother or sister, but probably a son-in-law.
Gateway Ancestor
A particular ancestor who provides a link from one culture or time period to another.
It is the name given to a standard file format for genealogical information, such as those used in software programs. It is derived from "Genealogical Data Communication.”
Genetic Cousins
They are individuals whose DNA test results match one another. You may have cousins who aren't genetic cousins—that is, you and your cousin don't match on DNA tests because you didn't inherit enough of the same DNA from the same ancestor.
The study of family ancestries and history.
All the genetic material in the chromosome set of an organism. 46 chromosomes make up the human genome.
The genetic makeup of a particular individual.
Farm or plantation owner who hires others to farm their land.
Also referred to a retired man.
Gretna Green
Has been synonymous with eloping couplkes for hundres of years. Gretna Green was one of the first places over the border in Scotland to offer marriage ceremonies which were officiates by locals. If you have been unable to find marraige records for English ancestors try looking at these records to see if your ancestors used this opportunity to marry.
In Louisville, Kentucky in the 1800's, it was a liquor store before they started selling food.
Haplogroup A collection of related haplotypes with a common ancestor. The haplogroup (also called a clade) is usually defined by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation that arose in an ancestor hundreds or thousands of years ago, and is found in all of the descendant haplotypes.
An individual’s set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or DYS markers. Males who are recently related through their paternal line will have similar haplotypes and belong to the same haplogroup. The more diverse two haplotypes are, the more time has passed since their most recent common ancestor.
During the Colonial period of roughly 1619 to 1705, the British government offered 50 acres of land for every "head" (person) transported to the Colonies. Headright papers list the names of those people—the person who sponsored the transportation as well as those transported, i.e. his relative or an indentured servant.
The art of settling the rights of persons to bear arms, recording genealogies and blazoning coats of arms.
A payment to a manorial landlor on the death of a tenant.
17th century nickma,e for a farmer or ploughman whose showes were frequently repaired with large headed nails or bobnails, and patched or tipped with pieces of metal.
Hourglass Chart
This starts at the selected person and goes down through the descendants and up through the ancestors.
Once meant property owner and could be used for male or female.
Hudson Bay Company
The oldest merchandising Company in the English-speaking world.
A term for French Protestants in the 16th century.
An ancients territorial division of a shire or county introduced by the Saxons. The most probable meaning is of an area made up of 100 families or 100 fighting men.  By the 19th century in England, hhundres were phased out in favor of poor law unions and parliamentary divisions.
A farmer who does not own the land he farms.
International Genealogical Index.
Children whose parents are not married at the time of their birth are termed illegitimate.
Persons who have fallen in later life into a state of chronic dementia.
An ancestor who arrived in America after 1783.
The process of immigrating.
Terms such as Brother and Brother-in-Law were used interchangeably and somewhat unreliably. Likewise Sister and Sister-in-Law.
The process of creating an index normally by Surname or combined Surname and Forename to material such as the census. 
Males, under the age of 21 years. 
Females under the age of 18 years.
Refers to a man living in the home of another person, but not necesarily in an institution.
Without a will.
Irregular marriage
A legal marriage ceremony conducted by an ordained clergyman but without banns or license.
The supporters of Catholic King James VII of Scotland (or James II of England) and his heirs after his deposition in 1689, in preference to a Protestant monarchy.
Written after a man's name did not necesarily mean the same as his father, it might be an uncle or an older cousin.
Updated: 3 December 2016
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