The language of the law. Part Latin, part Greek, part law French, even part Anglo-Saxon. And all confusing.

It is one of the most valuable combinations of letters on the planet, if you happen to be a court clerk or a lawyer.

And one of the most frustrating if you happen to be a genealogist, an historian or a researcher.

Just two letters to start off with — two little letters that provoke some pretty salty responses even from The Legal Genealogist.

The letters: E T.

The word, in Latin, meaning “and.”1

Reader Jill Schralla-Stephens is the latest to come up against these letters, in an index to deed books from Bertie County, North Carolina, that contained references to a whole series of deeds from her Bunch family:

1775 Jeremiah Bunch from King Freeman et als
1775 Nehemiah Bunch from Jeremiah Bunch et ux
1775 Frederick Bunch from Jeremiah Bunch et ux
1787 Jeremiah Bunch from Thomas Bazemore et al
1790 Jeremiah Bunch from Samuel Duning et ux2

Ugh. It’s enough to make you sit there whining “and … and … and what?”

So here’s the deal… there are a lot of and-this or and-that combinations that you’ll find in the law dictionaries — you do have your own copy of Black’s, right? — and a handful you’re going to come up against — like et al. and et ux — all the time.

Here’s a handy guide to the usual suspects until you do get your own copy of Black’s:

et al.: “An abbreviation for et alii, ‘and others.’”3

et alii e contra: “And others on the other side.”4

et alius: “And another. The abbreviation et al. (sometimes in the plural written et als.) is affixed to the name of the person first mentioned, where there are several plaintiffs, grantors, persons addressed, etc.”5

et allocatur.: “And it is allowed.”6

et caetera: “And others; and other things; and so on. In its abbreviated form {etc.) this phrase is frequently affixed to one of a series of articles or names to show that others are intended to follow or understood to be included. So, after reciting the initiatory words of a set formula, or a clause already given in full, etc. is added, as an abbreviation, for the sake of convenience.”7

et non: “And not.”8

et seq.: “An abbreviation for et sequentia, ‘and the following.” Thus a reference to ‘p. 1, et seq.’ means ‘page first and the following pages.’”9

et ux: “An abbreviation for et uxor,— ‘and wife.’ Where a grantor’s wife joins him in the conveyance, it is sometimes expressed (in abstracts, etc.) to be by ‘A B et ux.’”10

So the “et ux” reference in the deed index referenced means the wife of the grantor was joining in the deed.11 And the “et al.” or “et als.” references means there were others joining in the deed beyond the one individual named.12

And to find out just who the wife was, or who the other person or persons might have been, we have to go the original deeds.

Which, as good genealogists, we’re always going to do anyway, right?

Right.


SOURCES

  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 438, “et.”
  2. Edythe Smith Dunstan,
    The Bertie Index for Courthouse Records of Bertie County, North Carolina, 1720-1875 (n.p.: p.p., 1966), 21.
  3. Black, 438, “et al.”
  4. Ibid., “et alii e contra.”
  5. Ibid., “et alius.”
  6. Ibid., 439, “et allocatur.”
  7. Ibid., “et caetera.”
  8. Ibid., “et non.”
  9. Ibid., “et seq.”
  10. Ibid., “et ux.”
  11. Or, at least, the indexer thought so.
  12. Ditto.
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