B

Genealogy Dictionary

Banns
Publication or posting of the announcement of a marriage to take place in the near future. Reading of the banns announced to the community that a couple intended to get married and provided time for people to decide if they had reason to protest. In most Christian churches the banns were read aloud during church services on three successive Sundays.
baptism
A religious ceremony that recognizes or accepts a person into the religious community. Sometimes called christening. Comparable Jewish ceremonies include the bar mitzvah and the bat mitzvah.
baptizatus
Baptized.
baptizavi
I baptized…
Barrister
Lawyer, in England. (occupation)
beneficiary
A person who receives personal or real property through an inheritance either specifically named or implicit in a will.
bequest
A gift of real estate through a will. Also called a "legacy".
bibliography
A list of sources.
birth certificate
An official document recorded by the appropriate government agency according to local law. The document is certified by the appropriate authorities as being true and accurate (as filed).
In the U.S. laws provided for the recording of births by the county government but were sporadically followed until about the mid-1880s. Between 1900 and 1915 most states took over this responsibility. Counties will have a Registry of Births book that covers the timeframe they recorded births. See Vital Records.
bond
A written promise by a borrower to pay a lender a fixed amount of money as interest for a prescribed period of time and to repay the principal on a stated date.
Boro
Abbreviation for Borough.
Borough
A self-governing incorporated town, larger than a village. The term is common to the Northeastern United States.
Bounty Land
Public land given by the government to induce young men to join the military. This was a very useful bonus for men during the US Revolution and War of 1812 when the country was land rich but strapped for cash. See NATF 80.
Bounty Land Warrant
The document describing the gift of land due to a person entitled by military service, or to his heirs or assigns. The Bounty Land Warrant is identified by a warrant id consisting of three parts: 1) warrant number, 2) number of acres, and 3) year the warrant was granted (i.e., 179-160-50).
brother
A male sibling, half-brother, step-brother, brother-in-law, husband of a sister-in-law, or a Brother in Church. Sometimes it was also used to show close friendship ("he was like a brother to me"). If someone was called "brother" in a document, such as a will, it does not mean they had the same parents. This extended usage fell out of use during the 20th century.
bundling
The practice of allowing an engaged couple to sleep in the same bed before the marriage. The idea was to see if they were compatible, not to encourage sex. A wooden slat was usually set between the couple though that didn't always keep the two apart. This practice was common in New England.
Bureau of Census
In the U.S. the agency within the government responsible for collecting census records every ten years.

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