Summer — and winter! — camp for genealogists

So you were green with envy last week when everybody started posting about their wonderful experiences at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. Felt you had missed out on what can only be described as summer camp for genealogists. And you’ve been in the doldrums ever since.

Fear not.

There’s always another chance.

And two of the best are open to you to choose from this week!

Summer camp: GRIP

GRIPlogoRight now, you can kickstart your genealogical education by registering, even online still, for courses at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, held at LaRoche College. There’s at least one seat in almost every class that you can still sneak into — even the classes starting in just 10 days, as well as the classes starting in July.

The first set of GRIP classes — the next available summer camp for genealogists — begins June 28 and runs through July 3, 2015, and because of cancellations and schedule changes there’s at least one seat still available in every one of them.

But online registration for June classes ends tomorrow, Friday, June 19th, so if you’re tempted by any of these, you need to act fast.

Here’s the line-up:

Writing Your Immigrant Families’ Stories: From Research to Publishing with John P. Colletta, Ph.D. and Michael Hait, CG

You’ve researched your lineage back to “the shores”: now what? It’s time to write your ancestors’ stories! Using immigrant ancestors as examples, this course will teach you
• how to discover the facts,
• narrate the stories,
• and publish an account of your ancestors.

Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard with Thomas W. Jones, PhD., CG, CGL

Learn how to achieve genealogical proof by planning and executing focused research, citing the resulting sources, testing the evidence they contain, assembling evidence into a conclusion, and explaining it clearly. Jones has edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2002 where many proof arguments are published. The course scope and sequence follow the content of his book, Mastering Genealogical Proof.

Research in New York State: Resources and Strategies with Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS (formerly Green)

Land of the “Big Apple” and rural farms, New York is historic in its place in immigration and migration, and ethnic and religious survival. Learn how to access records and discover your ancestors who lived in the Empire State.

Problem Solving with Church Records with Rev. Dr. David McDonald, CG
The nature of Christian communities and churches through the centuries suggests that there is overlap in theological perspectives and outlook, with important similarities across denominational boundaries, and yet some very distinct differences within particular sects or traditions. Accordingly, traditions will be considered on a stand-alone basis and also in comparison with and in contrast to other bodies.

Advanced Research Tools: Land Records with Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL

Land genealogy is as important as people genealogy for overcoming family history research barriers. This course explores land distribution in the current United States by colonial powers, private land claims, federal land records at both the National Archives and the General Land Office, and local-level county or town deeds. Students will learn about the Public Land Survey System and the metes and bound system. Course content illustrates the use of land records to prove kinship. Use of software and Internet resources for finding land records, mapping, and deed platting is demonstrated.

Practical Genetic Genealogy with Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

DNA test results can be confusing and their application to genealogy unclear. This course is designed to provide the in-depth knowledge needed by those who wish to analyze results and further research goals for themselves, their clients, or a surname project. These three recognized experts in the field of DNA analysis will provide opportunities for practical, hands-on experience in analysis and correlation of DNA test results utilizing the latest tools and techniques and will give recommendations for further research.

Again, online registration for June classes ends tomorrow, Friday, June 19th.

You have a little more time to think things over if you’re looking at the July classes — the second available summer camp for genealogists — that begins July 19th and runs through July 24th, 2015. Courses with at least one seat available there include:

Intermediate Genealogy: Tools for Digging Deeper with Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA.

Stuart-Warren focuses on unusual resources, manuscripts, methodology, and analyzing records. She researches across the U.S. and brings her experience into the class room. She encourages students to bring their own family history problems for brainstorming and discussion. This gives a personal approach to the course which gives a solid foundation and fills in knowledge gaps.

Advanced Research Methods with Thomas W. Jones, PhD., CG, CGL

Participants will develop advanced genealogical research, analysis, correlation and compilation skills. Hands-on activities, using original records, will enhance this learning. Examples are drawn from American states and colonies and European countries. Before the course begins participants will complete two pre-course reading assignments. Four homework assignments, providing opportunities for advanced skill development, are optional.

Refresh, Rebuild and Recharge Your Genealogy Career with D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS.

The field of professional genealogy offers multiple opportunities to find career success. During the week we will examine the steps to building a career in professional genealogy, looking beyond client-based research to provide best practices for strategic planning, marketing, developing products, and related topics. Faculty includes those working in across various dynamics within the industry, including commercial entities, small-business owners, small-proprietors, non-profit and more. Sessions include lectures, workshops, discussions, and live interviews with working professionals. During the week each participant will draft a strategic plan to refresh, rebuild, and recharge his or her current (or developing) business. This course is designed for those considering a career in genealogy, as well as seasoned professionals looking for a “boost” in the current climate.

Practical Genetic Genealogy with Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, Patti Hobbs, and Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

DNA test results can be confusing and their application to genealogy unclear. This course is designed to provide the in-depth knowledge needed by those who wish to analyze results and further research goals for themselves, their clients, or a surname project. These three recognized experts in the field of DNA analysis will provide opportunities for practical, hands-on experience in analysis and correlation of DNA test results utilizing the latest tools and techniques and will give recommendations for further research.

Law School for Genealogists with Judy G. Russell, J.D., CG, CGL and Richard G. “Rick” Sayre, CG, CGL.

Understanding the laws that affected our ancestors is essential for kinship determination and successful research. This course explores laws concerning courts, estates, family law, immigration, legal research, military, and property laws. Judy Russell, aka “The Legal Genealogist,” has a blog by the same name in which she wittily explores timely issues and genealogical problems. Rick Sayre’s areas of expertise include federal records, military records, urban research methodology, technology and mapping tools for genealogists, immigration, the Ohio River Valley, and Western Pennsylvania.

Online registration for July classes ends July 10th.

Winter camp: SLIG

SLIGlogoIf summer camp just won’t work for you and your schedule this year, think about a winter camp for genealogists — the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) in Salt Lake City in January 2016. The course line-up for 2016 is amazing, and it’ll be one rare genealogist who can’t find something that’s exactly what’s needed.

And registration for the 2016 courses — some of which are bound to fill up in minutes — opens Saturday, June 20th, at 9 a.m. Mountain time.

You can find a detailed description of all of the SLIG courses online at the Utah Genealogical Association website where the registration link will magically appear on Saturday morning. But just to whet your appetite, here’s the list:

Intermediate U.S. Records and Research, Part II
Coordinator: Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA

Researching New York: Resources and Strategies
Coordinator: Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS

Research In The South
Coordinator: J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

Corpus Juris: Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy
Coordinator: Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Early U.S. Church Records
Coordinator: Rev. Dr. David McDonald, CG

Advanced Research Tools: Land Records
Coordinator: Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA and Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA

Beginning Genetic Genealogy
Coordinator: Blaine T Bettinger, JD, Ph.D

Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques For Genealogical Research
Coordinator: Angie Bush, MS

Solving Problems Like a Professional
Coordinator: Michael Hait, CG

Advanced Genealogical Methods
Coordinator: Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL

Writing A Quality Family Narrative
Coordinator: John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., FUGA

Problem Solving
Coordinator: Luana Darby, MLIS

Advanced Evidence Practicum
Coordinator: Angela Packer McGhie

There’s no time like the present — summer or winter — to build genealogical knowledge and skills. Hope to see you at GRIP, or SLIG… or both!

Posted in General | 1 Comment

In their footsteps

Any genealogist who has ever had the great good fortune to find and walk an ancestor’s land knows there are no words that can be found — and none that are required — to describe the experience.

You just soak it in.

So it has been for The Legal Genealogist in this quick trip in to Mississippi to find the land of my Gentry and Robertson ancestors.

As I turn my steps northeast today, heading home, I am a little frustrated at not finding certain evidence of where my Gentry third great grandparents are buried — but think it’s likely to be where their son George is buried, right down the road from our mid-19th-century land. There are a number of worn stone markers in that very old cemetery — and the location is just right.

But the land… just being there and seeing what they saw… that was good enough no matter that I didn’t find a single thing new in the paper trail. The physical trail was good enough.

On, or very near the Gentry land, some day lilies brightened the field in front of an old barn.


Not far away, the Pearl River makes its muddy way through Neshoba County (and other counties) — and my third great grandfather Elijah Gentry rode the Pearl River circuit as a Methodist Episcopal preacher before marrying and having a boatload of kids.


Down the road from their land is the White Oak Cemetery where, I suspect, Elijah and wife Wilmoth are buried. It’s a lovely quiet peaceful place filled with old stones.


Among the stones that can be read are those of some of my Gentry cousins — from a later generation.


It’s been fun, Mississippi. We’ll have to do this again some time…

Posted in General, My family | 7 Comments

There’s a reason why we cite sources…

The Legal Genealogist almost wept yesterday.

First, with joy, on finding for the very first time what looked like it might be a specific hint to the burial places of my third great grandparents, Elijah Gentry and Wilmoth (Killen) Gentry of Mississippi.

Then, with frustration, on realizing that the information was at best second hand — and the cited sources don’t support what was written.

Not that I reached that conclusion quickly, mind you.

TombstoneI didn’t give up on the hope that maybe, just maybe, the hint would pan out until I had walked every inch of the cemetery in Neshoba County, Mississippi, to which my attention had been called.

But — alas — there really are no tombstones for Elijah and Wilmoth in Sand Hill Cemetery… and I have no idea why the author of this one new reference work thought there were.

Now understand I really didn’t expect to find anything except, perhaps, modern tombstones erected by descendants in the last few years.

There is a truly excellent survey of Neshoba County cemeteries that was done in 1987 by the Neshoba County Historical Society which — I noted with enormous regret when I first found that survey years ago — didn’t record any stones for Elijah and Wilmoth.1

And just about a decade later, a revised and updated cemetery survey by local historian and librarian Theresa Ridout didn’t record any stones for the Gentrys either.2

The chances that two separate local surveys would have missed these graves… well… I’ve only been looking for a clue to their death dates and burial locations for, oh, a kazillion years or so, and have been stymied from the outset. So let’s just say I wasn’t holding my breath.

But hope springs eternal, and all that, and I admit that I did, momentarily, have my breath stolen away by the entries in this new reference work.3

Which flat out says that there are 41 gravestones of persons born in the 18th century who died in Neshoba County… including:

Gentry, Rev. Elijah, 1787 GA – 1865

Gentry, Wilmoth Killen, wf of Elijah, 1795 NC – 1870s

And both, it says, were buried at Sand Hill Cemetery.

Now to be fair to the author, she doesn’t say she went out and looked at all these tombstones herself. She cites other reference works and, for Neshoba County, she cites the Ridout book and the Mississippi GenWeb project — without more detail.

Would that either of those actually did say where Elijah and Wilmoth were buried.

But they don’t, and since the author didn’t cite a more specific source for these specific entries…

I am really really annoyed.

And I’m at a loss…

Unless the author is still around, and still reachable at the email address included in the reference work, and still responding to inquiries, and still has her notes underlying her research, I’ll never know why she thought the Gentrys were buried there.

And if she’d cited her sources, in detail, in the first place…


Things like this really drive home why citing our sources, fully and completely, is an essential part of the Genealogical Proof Standard.


  1. Neshoba County Historical Society, Neshoba County Cemetery Records (Philadelphia, MS: Gregath Co., 1987).
  2. Theresa T. Ridout, Our Links to the Past : 1833-1996 Cemetery Records of Neshoba County, MS (Philadelphia, MS: Neshoba County Public Library, 1998).
  3. I am assiduously avoiding dissing the author by name at least until after I see if she still has her work notes…
Posted in General, Methodology, My family | 13 Comments

For the ease of finding my ancestors’ land

Those who, like The Legal Genealogist, have ancestors from what are called the state land states know the pain of trying to identify a land parcel that is described as beginning at an oak, running to a maple, thence to a rock in the stream and so forth.

Finding a piece of property described under the metes and bounds survey system is, to put it mildly, a challenge.1

So it is a distinct pleasure to be in Winston County Mississippi, where my Gentry and Robertson ancestors lived in the 19th century, on tracts of land described in terms like “the West half of the South East quarter of Section twenty nine in Township fifteen North, of Range fourteen East, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Columbus, Mississippi.”

Because it is just so easy to take that description and go directly to that parcel of land.

Or as close to it as 21st century backroads can take you, at least.

That description happens to be the exact description of 79.80 acres of land patented to my third great grandfather Elijah Gentry on 27 February 1841.2

It was a cash sale — so there aren’t a lot of the kinds of documents you can get with a homestead. No proof of settlement, no affidavits, nothing like that. Just a patent and a receipt for paying for the land.

And, thrown in for good measure, the easiest way in the world to get to his land, in person, now that I’m doing a road trip in Mississippi.

Here’s the way it works.

The federal Bureau of Land Management has a website for General Land Office Records where you can search by an ancestor’s name for Federal land conveyance records in the Public Land States — patents, survey plats and more showing the transfer of the land from federal ownership to individual ownership.

If you navigate to the General Land Office Records, and click on the link for Land Patents, or navigate directly to the Land Patents search page, you can enter the information you have available and search across many records.

In my case, I was looking for land in a particular location. So in the location fields, I chose Mississippi and then Winston County. And I was also looking for a particular ancestor’s land, so I entered his surname — Gentry — in the Names box.

I could have included more information — the land description, for example — since I already had that, but the great joy of the website is that you don’t need a whole lot of information to do a thorough search.

In my example, there’s only one Gentry land patent in Winston County, for my third great grandfather Elijah Gentry, and clicking on that link took me to the patent details page.

And that’s where you’ll find the extra little goodie section that I used yesterday.

Scroll down to the bottom. You’ll see a section entitled Land Descriptions, with a map of the United States. There’s an unchecked box under the word Map in the left hand column.


Go ahead and check that box.

And magic occurs.

The map zooms in to Winston County, Mississippi, and overlaid on that is the exact area of Section 29 that was patented to Elijah Gentry.


You can easily see that it’s east of Louisville, the county seat of Winston County and north of Mississippi Highway 14.

Cool, huh?

It gets better.

On the left hand side of the map is a zoom bar where you can zoom the map in or out even more than it is now. Go ahead and start zooming in — keeping in mind that you may need to drag the map area itself to keep the Gentry land visible.

With just two more clicks of the zoom bar, you can begin to see local roads, and not just the state highway. You can see that the land is along Harold Ming Road, between Highway 14 and Yellow Creek Road.

With two more clicks of the zoom bar, you can see exactly where the Gentry land is today: just south of Yellow Creek Road, with the center of the tract right where Mack Eaves Road cuts east towards Obie Smith Road.


In other words… exact driving directions.

Along today’s modern roads.

To this location.


Where I stood, yesterday afternoon, soaking up the feeling of standing where my ancestors did, on land that they owned, more than 170 years ago.

Not every tract in the BLM GLO database is linked to an underlying map with this degree of detail. If you try the exact same trick with the land of my other third great grandfather William M. Robertson,3 the system returns a message that “Due to data limitations, we could not map the aliquots or lots of this land description. The township and section are shown.”

But when you know that the Robertson parcel is the south half of the east half of the southwest quarter of that section on the map, it doesn’t take much to place it pretty close to where Hull Road branches off from Yellow Creek Road towards the north:




Where I stood, yesterday afternoon, soaking up the feeling of standing where my ancestors did, on land that they owned, more than 170 years ago.

Thank you, BLM…


  1. See generally FamilySearch Research Wiki (, “Metes and Bounds,” rev. 24 Aug 2014.
  2. Elijah Gentry (Winston County, Mississippi), land patent no. 12322, 27 February 1841; “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records ( : accessed 14 June 2015).
  3. William M. Robertson (Winston County, Mississippi), land patent no. 13267, 27 February 1841; “Land Patent Search,” digital images, General Land Office Records ( : accessed 14 June 2015).
Posted in General, Methodology, My family, Resources | 18 Comments

STR-ing along

The Legal Genealogist is on the road, so the blog during this extended trip is featuring terms we all need to understand and use as genealogists.

Today’s term, for DNA Sunday, is STR.

It’s an acronym, short for Short Tandem Repeat, and it’s an important part of DNA analysis particularly for the YDNA direct-male-line testing so many of us and our kin are doing.

By definition, “A short tandem repeat (STR) in DNA occurs when a pattern of two or more nucleotides are repeated and the repeated sequences are directly adjacent to each other. An STR is also known as a microsatellite.”1

Hmmm… that’s not all that helpful, is it?

Try it this way: STRs are “short sequences of DNA, normally of length 2-5 base pairs, that are repeated numerous times in a head-tail manner.”2

Not clear, still?

How about this, from the Stewart Society’s genetic genealogy page: “STRs (short tandem repeats) measure the number of times a sequence of genetic code is repeated at a specific location on the Y-chromosome.”3

Still a little fuzzy? Think of it this way. All of our DNA — every single spot in every single location — is one of four chemicals (called nucleotides) — adenine, cytosine, guanine or thymine. Think of them as A, C, G, and T. When a lab computer reads our DNA, it’s detecting which of those four appears at a particular location.

An STR is when you get repeat sequences, say, GATC, again and again at that location. And how many of those repeat sequences helps us group people genetically, or separate them genetically, into families.


The chart above shows three participants in a hypothetical family YDNA project. One of the men has seven repeats, one has eight and one has nine. If all other markers are the same among them, then John is a genetic distance of one from David and two from Tom. David is a genetic distance of one from each of the others. Tom is a genetic distance of one from David and two from John.

Got it?

If not, just STR-ing along with me. We’ll get there eventually…


  1. ISOGG Wiki (, “Short tandem repeat,” rev. 20 July 2013.
  2. What is a Short Tandem Repeat Polymorphism (STR)?,” The Biology Project, University of Arizona ( : accessed 13 June 2015).
  3. “STR markers and SNP markers,” Bannockburn Genetic Genealogy Project, The Stewart Society ( : accessed 13 June 2015).
Posted in DNA | 2 Comments

No, actually, it’s not misspelled

The Legal Genealogist is on the road, so the blog during this extended trip is featuring terms we all need to understand and use as genealogists.

Today’s term is quot.

quotAnd no, actually, it’s not misspelled there, even though it sure looks wrong, doesn’t it?

The word quot, spelled just like that, without any “e” at the end, is a term from Scottish law, and it means a “twentieth part of the movable estate of a person dying, which was due to the bishop of the diocese within which the person resided.”1

So, you might ask, what’s the movable estate? Great question — and one you won’t find an answer to in Black’s Law Dictionary. It was simply personal property — everything not attached to the land.2

And why might we as genealogists care? Because if we know what the quot was, then even if we don’t have any other document saying what the value of the person’s personal property was, a bit of math — quot times 20 — gives us the total value of all the personal property that individual owned.

Just one more clue… at least if we have Scottish ancestors… who paid the quot.


  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 990, “quot.”
  2. See The Law Dictionary (http:// : accessed 7 June 2015), “movable estate.”
Posted in Legal definitions | 3 Comments

Getting SNP’y with DNA

The Legal Genealogist is on the road, so the blog during this extended trip is featuring terms we all need to understand and use as genealogists.

Today’s term, for DNA Sunday, is SNP.

Pronounced “snip.”

Dna-SNPIt’s an acronym, short for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism.

Which, all in all, is such a mouthful that it’s no wonder it got shortened to SNP.

By definition, it’s “a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), or guanine (G]) in the genome (or other shared sequence) differs between members of a species or paired chromosomes in an individual.”1


That helps a lot, doesn’t it? (She says, with tongue in cheek and a huge dose of sarcasm.)

Think of it this way: a SNP is “a change in your DNA code at a specific point.”2 And we look at those changes to “confirm haplogroup assignments, to learn more about … deep ancestry and to rule out false positive matches” with possible cousins.3

So SNPs help us figure out exactly where we belong — on what branch of the human family tree — and who else ought to be hanging out on that branch with us.


Something to get snippy about, for sure.


Image: SNP model by David Eccles, CC BY 4.0

  1. ISOGG Wiki (, “Single-nucleotide polymorphism,” rev. 5 Apr 2015.
  2. “Glossary: Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP),” Learning Center, Family Tree DNA ( : accessed 6 June 2015).
  3. ISOGG Wiki (, “SNP testing,” rev. 8 May 2015.
Posted in DNA | 2 Comments

71 years after D-Day

The Legal Genealogist is on the road, so the blog focuses on terms of use to genealogists and family historians.

Terms like sacrifice.

Because it is, today, 71 years after the D-Day invasion, when thousands of Allied troops stormed ashore on the beaches of Normandy and, through their sacrifice, enabled the armies of freedom to make the last push to defeat the Axis forces in Europe and bring an end to the Second World War.


Thank you to all who sacrificed so much that June day, 71 years ago today.

IMAGE: Carol Highsmith, National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, Virginia; Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Not only what we think

To keep readers from feeling bereft while The Legal Genealogist is on the road, the blog over the next week or so will continue to focus on terms — words and phrases — we may come across in legal documents that don’t always mean what we think they mean.

Words like today’s term of the day: quarantine.

quarantineWe all think we know what quarantine means, and — for the most part — we do.

It’s that time period during which people or animals who were — or were thought to be — infected with a contagious disease would be isolated away from others in order to prevent the spread of the disease, right? That, after all, is the basic dictionary definition.1

My own grandmother, as a child, had been quarantined with her family in the brand new State of Oklahoma just after her father had homesteaded as a successful bidder in the Big Pasture land sale there. The disease: smallpox.2 It was an horrific experience she never forgot.

The term has a somewhat more specific definition in the legal sense, from a maritime origin:

A period of time (theoretically forty days) during which a vessel coming from a place where a contagious or infectious disease is prevalent, is detained by authority in the harbor of her port of destination, or at a station near it, without being permitted to land or to discharge her crew or passengers. Quarantine is said to have been first established at Venice in 1484.3

But that’s not all it means, in a legal sense.

There’s an alternate definition in the context of real property — land — where we as genealogists may come up against it as well.

In that context, it means the “space of forty days during which a widow has a right to remain in her late husband’s principal mansion immediately after his death. The right of the widow is also called her ‘quarantine.’”4

Remember that, for generations, women living in common law jurisdictions — England, the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere — didn’t inherit from their husbands. They may have cleared the land, planted the land, lived on the land, raised kids on the land — but they didn’t own the land and it didn’t pass to them when their husbands died.5

Their rights were limited to whatever the law of dower gave them — usually a life estate in one-third of their husband’s lands.6 And, if they were lucky, that life estate would include the house (that principal mansion). But even if it didn’t, quarantine was the right not to have to leave that house for a time after the husband’s death.

Not quite the concept we have in mind when we hear the word, is it?

But one we need to know.


Image:, user Monado, CC BY-SA 2.0

  1. See Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary ( : accessed 4 June 2015), “quarantine.”
  2. Homestead Proof–Testimony of Claimant, 29 August 1908, Jasper C. Robertson (Tillman County, Oklahoma), cash sale entry, certificate no. 246, Lawton, Oklahoma, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management; Record Group 49, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  3. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 975-976, “quarantine.”
  4. Ibid.
  5. See generally Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986).
  6. Ibid.
Posted in Legal definitions | 6 Comments

The language of the law

The Legal Genealogist is on the road (yes, again) and the schedule for the next week or more is going to be brutal.

queen-of-heartsGreat fun — first with the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree and DNA Day, and then with the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Alabama.

But demanding of time and attention, for sure.

So guess what isn’t going to be attended to as diligently over that next week or more?

You got it in one.

But as usual I don’t want to leave my faithful readers with a blank space where words are wont to be so…

The terms of the day today are just about polar opposites. Well, I suppose in some cases maybe not so much, when applied to the same person, but…

A queen was (and is) a “woman who possesses the sovereignty and royal power in a country under a monarchical form of government. The wife of a king.”1

She was, according to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, by virtue of her marriage, not subject to many of the disabilities most married women suffered. She didn’t lose her legal identity but instead was

a public person, exempt and distinct from the king, and not like other married women so closely connected as to have lost all separate existence, so long as the marriage continues. For the Queen is of ability to purchase lands, and to convey them, to make leases, to grant copyholds, and to do other acts of ownership, without the concurrence of her lord, which no other married woman can do.2

And, alas, except for those with royal ancestry, it’s a term most of us will come across — if at all — in records of laws imposed on our ancestors.

But there’s another word just above that word in the legal dictionaries we may also come across on occasion. A quean was a “worthless woman; a strumpet.”3 And, yes, the term strumpet is also found in the law dictionaries: “A whore, harlot, or courtesan. This word was anciently used for an addition. It occurs as an addition to the name of a woman in a return made by a jury in the sixth year of Henry V.”4

That one, at least, offers the potential for some fun…


Image: OpenClipArt, user casino.

  1. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 979, “queen.”
  2. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book the First: Of the Rights of Persons, 9th edition (London: 1793), 208; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 3 June 2015).
  3. Ibid., “quean.”
  4. Ibid., 1128, “strumpet.”
Posted in Legal definitions | 1 Comment