Category Archives: Legal definitions

A rare turn of phrase The Legal Genealogist often joins the rest of the genealogical community in whining about legal Latin. But the Romans are not the only ones we have to blame for obscure language in legal documents we … Continue reading

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The language of the law. Part Latin, part Anglo-Saxon, all confusing. Some of the most important types of records we ever come across as genealogists are estate records. All the kinds of documents that get created when someone dies: wills, … Continue reading

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Those 1890 statutes The Legal Genealogist is heading off to Oklahoma tomorrow, to speak at the Oklahoma Genealogical Society conference on Saturday and — with any luck at all — to track down some elusive Tillman County ancestors in the … Continue reading

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For the common law crowd Reader John Sparrow took one look at yesterday’s post about Black’s Law Dictionary and shot off a question. “Do you know if there are similar books for England and/or Australia?” he asked. “If so, could … Continue reading

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Best for genealogy Reader Pam Anderson had a great question after trying — and failing — to find a truly archaic legal term in her pocket copy of Black’s Law Dictionary. “On the Black’s Law Dictionary,” she asked, “any recommendations … Continue reading

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Excluding and including the Indian There is a curious phrase in the Constitution of the United States. It appears in Article I, section 2, and it appears again in the 14th Amendment. In Article I, the Constitution provides that Representatives … Continue reading

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Mama as guardian Yesterday’s blog about the man being named guardian of his sister’s children sparked the inevitable flurry of “but… but… but…” comments from folks who had seen cases where women had in fact been named as guardians of … Continue reading

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Why not the mother? Reader Jeanie Attenhofer was struggling to understand what happened when her third great grandfather died in 1828. He was killed, she said, along the Santa Fe trail — shot with his own gun (“he fell asleep … Continue reading

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Different degrees of violence In the Mississippi Territory, in 1817, a jury of 12 men tried and true returned a verdict of not guilty against Nathaniel Christmas. The court minutes reflect that the “Jurors return their verdict that the Defendant … Continue reading

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The one who was So yesterday The Legal Genealogist raised the spectre of a housekeeper who wasn’t keeping house at all. At least not the way you or I might think of the term and the way it might be … Continue reading

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