Category Archives: Legal definitions

Pennsylvania’s colonial inmates So earlier this week The Legal Genealogist set off to explore the use of the term “inmate” in U.S. census records. The blog post began: “When is an inmate not an inmate? Or, more accurately, when is … Continue reading

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A matter of definition When is an inmate not an inmate? Or, more accurately, when is an inmate not the kind of inmate we might expect? Not, that is, a prisoner. And the answer is: much of the time. In … Continue reading

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Chaining things together It was spelled out in the law: “the territory ceded by individual States to the United States, which has been purchased of the Indian inhabitants,” was to be divided into “townships of six miles square, by lines … Continue reading

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Not a hundred acre wood! She appears only a few times in the records of southern Maryland, in the middle of the 18th century. An estate file lists Isabella Wilson Buchanan as administrator of the estate of James and Mary … Continue reading

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An act of grace It was the summer of 1776, and all was not well in the heated politics of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s voting restrictions had kept the reins of the local government in the hands of a conservative few, and … Continue reading

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Of oldest and youngest sons (Note: This post originally ran in July 2012, but the issue arose again last week at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, so it bears repeating…) Okay, The Legal Genealogist has a confession to make. … Continue reading

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Missouri’s manslaughter law So… did you watch Who Do You Think You Are? last night? The Legal Genealogist did. In a room with most of the 200 genealogists attending the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Where else is a place … Continue reading

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Civil law meanings You can see it, right there. It’s the very last section of the law. And there, Louisiana’s law says, “When the substantive law of this state would be applicable to the merits of an action brought in … Continue reading

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Precursor to the Magistrate On the fifth day of June, 1891, J.D. Shaw appeared in front of a judicial officer in the Western District of Arkansas and swore out a complaint. “I do solemnly swear and believe from reliable information … Continue reading

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The prothonotary The story is told of President Harry Truman being introduced to a prothonotary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and, in typical Trumanesque fashion, asking the question. “What the hell is a prothonotary?”1 A somewhat less elegant form of the question … Continue reading

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