Family History Glossary

Alien
A citizen from another country. In New Zealand term 'alien' refers to those immigrants not of British ancestry as British residents were automatically given citizenship to New Zealand.
Almanac
An annual publication including calendars with weather forecasts, astronomical information, tide tables, and other related tabular information. Often includes articles on particular topics.
Amalgamation
Consolidation or merger e.g. amalgamation of territorial authorities into that of a larger council.
Ancestor
A person from whom you directly descend e.g. grandparents, great-grandparents, great great- grandparents and so on.
Ancestry
Denotes all of your ancestors from your parents as far back as they are traceable.
Archives
A place or collection containing records, documents, or other materials of historical interest.
Assisted immigrant
A person whose voyage to emigrate to New Zealand was paid by the New Zealand government, with intention on them working in some specific capacity upon arrival e.g. labourers for roads and railways, domestic servants, agricultural labourers were all in demand. See also 'nominated immigrant'.
Bankruptcy
A debtor that is judged legally insolvent. The debtor’s remaining property is then administered for the creditors or is distributed among them.
Banns
Public announcement of an intended marriage, generally made in a church.
Biographies
A biography is a book written about a particular individual. You can also find resources which are compiled biographies, containing short biographies of many different people.
Birth records
A birth record is the official registration certificate, containing information about the birth of an individual.
Bibliography
List of resources relating to a specific subject.
Cemetery records
Records which provide details of people buried in a specific cemetery. See Burials & Cemeteries for further information.
Census records
A census is an official enumeration of the population in a particular area.
Christian name
A person’s first name - given to them at birth. Precedes their surname.
Church records
Church records and registers are the formal documents that churches have kept about their congregations and staff through the years. Churches normally record information about baptisms, marriages, and burials.
Church registers
Registers created by a specific church to record details of baptisms, marriages and burials that have taken place in the church.
Clergy
Priests or ministers who have been ordained into a specific religious denomination.
Conjugal
Of or relating to marriage or the relationship of spouses.
Conjugal rights
The rights and privileges arising from the marriage relationship.
Conjugal status
Marriage status of people e.g. married, bachelor, spinster, widow.
Coroner
A government officer who investigates by inquest any death thought to be of other than natural causes.
Corpse
The body of a deceased person.
Cremation
The act of incinerating a corpse.
Deceased
Someone who has died.
Descendant
Descendants are your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on - anyone to whom you are an ancestor.
Deed
Document transfering ownership and title of property.
Denomination
A group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organised under a single administrative and legal hierarchy e.g. Anglicans, Presbyterians, Catholics etc.
Dewey classification
Decimal system of classification - used in libraries (including Christchurch City Libraries) as a way of organising books and resources.
Diocese
A group of churches, often organised by regional area, under the jurisdiction of a particular bishop.
Directories
Directories come in all types: city, telephone, county, regional, professional, religious, post office, street, and school.
Divorce
The legal dissolving of a marriage.
Emigrant
A person leaving one country to reside in another country.
Emigration
Emigration is when a person leaves their home country to live in another country.
Estate
Assets and liabilities of a deceased person, including land, personal belongings and debts.
Family group sheet
A family group sheet is a form which presents genealogical information about a nuclear family - a husband, a wife, and their children. A family group sheet usually includes birth dates and places, death dates and places, and marriage dates and places.
Family histories/genealogies
Family histories and genealogies are books which detail the basic genealogical facts about one or more generations of a particular family.
Folio number
Number provided by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office on their Birth, death and marriage index microfiche. The number relates to a specific certificate of registration for a particular year, and is what you need to take to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office to get hold of the certificate you want.
Freeholder
The owner of a freehold estate (one that has no debt attached to it).
Full age
Someone who as reached legal age.
Funeral director
An individual whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals.
Gazetteer
A gazetteer is a book which alphabetically names and describes the places in a specific area. For example, a gazetteer of a county would name and describe all of the towns, lakes, rivers, and mountains in the county.
Genealogy/genealogical
Conducting research and gathering facts for a family tree e.g. dates of births, marriages, deaths, names and places.
Given name
A person’s first name or Christian name - given to them at birth. Precedes their surname.
Godparent
A godparent or sponser is an individual, chosen by the parents of a child, who vows to takes responsibility for the child’s religious education. Sponsors are usually present at a child’s baptism.
Grantee
Person purchasing, buying or receiving property.
Grantor
Person selling, granting, transfering or conveying property.
Guardian
person lawfully appointed to care for a particular person who cannot control their own interests (education, property, finances) - such as a minor, invalid or someone who is incapacitated in some way.
Heir
Person who succeeds to an estate upon the death of a relative; a person who has rights to inherit an estate.
Illegitimate
A child born to a woman who is not married to the father.
Immigrant
A person moving into a country from another country.
Immigration
Immigration is when an individual arrives into a new country to live.
Index
An alphabetised list of names, places or subjects, giving the page or pages on which each item is mentioned.
Industrial schools
Institutions for delinquent and/or neglected youth, both male and female.
Inquest
An official investigation or inquiry into the cause of a death, and usually held before a jury.
Interment
The act or ritual of burying a deceased person.
Intestate
A person who dies without leaving a will.
Inventory
An inventory is a legal list of all the property in a deceased person’s estate.
Issue
Children, descendants, offspring.
Land records
Land records are deeds - proof that a piece of land is owned by a particular individual.
Late
Denoting someone who is deceased i.e. the late Anna Smith.
Legacy
Money or property bequeathed to another in a will.
Legatee
Someone who inherits money or property from a person who left a will.
Legislation
The making of laws.
Lessee
Person leasing property from an owner.
Lessor
Owner leasing property to a tenant.
Lineage
Direct line of descent from an ancestor.
Local history
A local history is a resource looking at a particular town or area within a country.
Maiden name
A woman’s last or family name before marriage.
Majority
Legal age.
Manse
Parsonage or house belonging to a minister of the church (usually Presbyterian).
Manuscript
Manuscripts are unpublished documents. For family history purposes they relate to unpublished family histories or collections of family papers such as diaries, letters, deeds and certificates.
Marriage records
A marriage record is the official registration certificate, containing information about a marriage between two individuals.
Maternal line
Line of descent traced through the mother’s ancestry.
Matron
Older married woman with children; a woman who acts as a supervisor or monitor in a public institution, such as a school, hospital, or prison. 'Matrons' were in charge of single women coming to New Zealand on immigrant ships.
Microfiche
A card or sheet of microfilm on which printed materials are photographed, in a greatly reduced form. Used for preservation and storage of information - usually for books, scrapbooks and documents. You need a microfiche reader to view the pages.
Microfilm
A film on which printed materials are photographed at greatly reduced size for preservation and ease of storage. Often used for newspapers. You need a microfilm reader to use the film.
Military records
Personnel records of those involved in the military e.g. soldiers.
Militia
A citizen army; a military organization formed by local citizens to serve in emergencies.
Minor
A person under legal age.
Naturalisation records
Naturalisation records document the process by which an immigrant becomes a citizen of their adopted country.
Née
A woman’s last or family name before marriage.
Nominated immigrant
A type of assisted immigrant coming to New Zealand in the 19th century. The person was 'nominated' by a settler (usually a friend, relative or employer) who was already residing in New Zealand. If the nomination received government approval then the selected person was able to immigrate to New Zealand and the cost of the voyage was paid by the government accordingly.
Officiating minister
The priest or religious minister who has performed the duties required e.g. conducting a baptism, marriage or burial service.
Oral history
Interview with individuals, usually tape-recorded or videotaped, where they will tell personal stories, the story of their life or focus on a particular topic. Aim is to preserve the firsthand knowledge of events.
Orphan
A child whose mother and father have died.
Orphan asylum
An orphanage or home for children without parents.
Parish
A religious community attending one church; a political subdivision of a British county, usually corresponding in boundaries to an original ecclesiastical parish.
Passenger lists
Passenger lists or shipping lists are lists of the names and details of passengers that arrived on ships into New Zealand.
Paternal line
Line of descent traced through the father’s ancestry.
Pedigree
A person’s ancestry, lineage, family tree.
Pedigree chart
A chart showing a person’s ancestry.
Pension
A sum of money paid regularly usually as a retirement benefit.
Pilgrims
A religious devotee who journeys to a shrine or sacred place; travellers. Often used to describe early New Zealand colonists coming as a member of one of the organised settlement associations e.g. the Canterbury Association.
Posthumous
A child born after the death of the father.
Pre-adamites
A term used in Canterbury for settlers who arrived in the area before the first four ships i.e. before 16 December 1850.
Primary source
documentation created at the time of an event e.g. birth certificates, land deeds; an original unpublished form of information such as diaries and letters.
Probate
Legal process used to determine the validity of a will before the court authorises distribution of an estate; legal process used to appoint an someone to administer the estate of someone who died without leaving a will.
Probate records
Probate records are records disposing of a deceased individual’s property. They may include an individual’s last will and testament, if one was made.
Province
A regional area, subdivided from the national government (usually one step below the national level).
Relict
Something or someone who has survived. Often used as a term for a widow who has survived their husband.
Run-holder
Owner and manager of an area of land.
Secondary resource
Any document that describes an event, person, place, or thing but not created at the time; published information gathered from primary sources e.g. published books, biographies, newspaper articles.
Settlers
A person who has settled in a new region. Used to describe early European arrivals to New Zealand.
Shipping lists
Passenger lists or shipping lists are lists of the names and details of passengers that arrived on ships into New Zealand.
Sponsor
A sponsor or godparent is an individual, chosen by the parents of a child, who vows to takes responsibility for the child’s religious education. Sponsors are usually present at a child’s baptism.
Stepchild
Child of one of the spouses by a former marriage - not their natural child.
Stepfather
Husband of a person’s mother by a later marriage - not their natural father.
Stepmother
Wife of a person’s father by a later marriage - not their natural mother.
Surname
A person’s last name or family name.
Testator
The person who has written a valid will.
Transcript
A copy that has been made from an original document e.g. the church register transcripts are copies of the original registers.
Underage
A minor or person who is under the legal age for an activity such as voting, drinking or marriage.
Undertaker
An individual whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals.
Vital records
Birth, marriage, and death records.
Vogel immigration scheme
Refers to Julius Vogel - who was at different times Colonial Treasurer, Minister of immigration and Premier of New Zealand during the 1860’s - 1880's. He adopted a bold expansionist policy, which became known as the 'Vogel scheme', where thousands of assisted immigrants came to New Zealand, to construct roads, railways, bridges and telegraph lines. See his entry on Dictionary of New Zealand Biography for further information about his life and work.
Whakapapa
Māori genealogy.
Widow
A widow is a woman whose husband has died.
Widower
A widower is a man whose wife has died.
Witness
A witness is an individual present at an event, such as a marriage or the signing of a document, who can vouch that the event took place.
Will
A document where a person outlines how they want their property divided after death.
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