Parish register in latin

Before the early part of the 18th century all parish registers were written in Latin. Here a few of the basics to get you started.

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Latin terms are often encountered by people researching their family history. The Anglican Church has been recording births, deaths and marriages since 1583, so prior to the introduction of civil registration and census records in the mid-19th century, this is a rich seam on which to dig. But what happens when find that early records are written in Latin?

Don’t panic – it does not mean you’ve reached a dead end. Here are some of the most common latin phrases and numbers you are likely to encounter.

Numbers as in parish register dates:

Roman Numerals

I = 1
V = 5
X = 10
L = 50
C = 100
D = 500
M = 1000

Months

Translate as nearest English equivalent eg., Septembris – – 7th Month – September.

Other Terms

Ambo – both
Baptizat or similar – Baptism
Ecclesia – Church
Eodem – Same
Filia = daughter
Filius = son
Infer = Lower
In hac … – In this (here)…
Magna – Great
Month – Month
Matrimonium or similar – marriage
Nihil nisi lana – In Wool only
Parva – little
Sepultat or similar – Burial
Sui mano = by his own hand (ie suicide)
Super = Upper

For example:

Umfridus filius Guido Donkin – Humphrey son of Guy Donkin
Matilda filia Jacobus Key – Maud (usually) daughter of James (usually) Key.
Lucas Colby de Scagglethorpe in hac parochia et Agneta Cole ibid, copulati sunt
Luke Colby of Scagglethorpe in this parish married Anna Cole of the same place.

Further Reading

See p57-70 of McLaughlin – Further Steps in Family History, FFHS
Eileen A. Gooder – Latin For Local History – an introduction, Longman.
See also a printed Parish Register, SETTRINGTON (in YCL), for examples of the use of Latin.

By Tim Owston

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 11:42 am History & Genealogy