Latin Words to Recognise

in old parish registers

see also

First, do not be in awe of old registers written in Latin. There are only a few words to learn to recognise! Something that looks like "baptize" is baptize, something that looks like "matrimony" is a marriage, and something that looks like "mortus" is a burial. "Gemini" .... sure... is twins. There are a few more, but you get the idea?
filius              son of               (I remember this as: ends in "us" = male)
filia               daughter of          (I remember this as: ends in "a"  = female)
                                         (the same often applies to male and female names)
et                  and
baptizavi           I have baptised
natus               born (male)
nata                born (female)
gemelli, gemini     twins
trigemini           triplets

nupsit              married
matrimonium         matrimony
licentiam           by licence
bannum              by banns

                                          Any word that looks like mortuary or obituary!
mortus              died
sepultavi           I have buried
dormit              sleeping
corpus              the body

parochia            parish
in comitatu         in the county of      (I remember this as "community")
in agro             in the county of      (literally in the field of)
ibidem              of the same place
extraneus           a stranger

So you see that when transcribing registers into a baptism database, we are just looking for key words such as "filia" (daughter) or "filius" (son), "baptizavi" plus the names. Don't worry about the latin grammar of names with "es" and "is" endings. You will recognise the names anyway. For example: "Baptizi Johannes filius Johannis et Joanna Smith". "I have baptized John son of John and Joan Smith".

Marriages have two surnames, and the word "matrimonium" or "nupsit" (married).
Watch out for "parochia" (parish) with a different place name ("John Smith of the parish of Littledean")

Burials have "sepultavi" or "mortus".

And bear in mind that a great number of clergymen didn't really understand Latin that well either, so they made mistakes. And when in doubt, wrote it in English and made it look like Latin !

If you want to refer to a really excellent booklet on Latin, look no further than
"Simple Latin for Family Historians" by Eve McLaughlin.
(£1.50 paperback, plus 35p post in the UK and £1.20 by airmail outside the UK).
(No apologies for the blatant advertisement. She deserves it!)

Eve McLaughlin, Varneys, Rudds Lane, Haddenham, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP17 8JP

see also:
Latin names
Old English and abbreviated names
Numbers and dates to recognise

How to transcribe registers

Copyright ©2000 Rod Neep