Birth Marriage and Death records in England & Wales – Key Dates

  • 1 July 1837 - Introduction of General Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in England and Wales


  • Pre-1875 - an estimated 6 to 10% of births NOT registered
  • 1875 more rigorous enforcement of compulsory registration
  • September quarter 1837 to June quarter 1911 -- only first two full forenames, subsequent initials, registration district and reference number
  • September quarter 1911 to present -- only first forename, subsequent initials, registration district and number but also includes mother"s maiden surname.


  • September quarter 1837 to December quarter 1911 -- only first two full forenames, subsequent initials, registration district and ref number
  • March quarter 1912 to September quarter 1962 -- if female was previously married, index shows maiden name and married name
  • March quarter 1912 to present day -- surname of spouse added 


  • 1875 enforcement of compulsory registration
  • September quarter 1837 to June quarter 1911 -- only first two full forenames, subsequent initials, registration district and reference number
  • September quarter 1911 onwards - only first forename, subsequent initials, registration district and number
  • September quarter 1837 to December quarter 1865 -- no age given
  • March quarter 1866 to March quarter 1969 -- age at death given
  • June quarter 1969 to present -- exact date of birth given



I would like to acknowledge that this work is not my own.  It is an amalgum of many other web sites visited that together have helped me to create this information.

The Census in England is taken every ten years and has been since 1801; the only exception being during World War II (1941). Most pre-1841 census were not kept and therefore only a few pre-1841 census returns have been found.

Census in the UK was conducted on the evenings of the following dates:

  • 1801 - 10th March
  • 1811 - 27th May
  • 1821 - 28th May
  • 1831 - 30th May
  • 1841 - 6th June
  • 1851 - 30th March
  • 1861 - 7th April
  • 1871 - 2nd April
  • 1881 - 3rd April
  • 1891 - 5th April
  • 1901 - 31st March
  • 1911 - 2nd April
  • 1921 - 19th June (Expected to be released by TNA in January 2022)
  • 1931 - 26th April (Destroyed during WW2)
  • 1939 - 29th September (WW2 National Registration)
  • 1951 - 8th April
  • 1961 - 23rd April
  • 1971 - 25th April
  • 1981 - 5th April
  • 1991 - 21st April
  • 2001 - 29th April








The first British census to ask detailed questions about individuals, the 1841 census contains a bit less information than subsequent censuses. For each individual enumerated in 1841, you can find the full name, age (rounded down to the nearest 5 for everyone 15 or older), sex, occupation, and whether they were born in the same county in which they were enumerated.


The questions asked in the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 census enumerations are generally the same and include the first, middle (usually just the initial), and last name of each individual; their relationship to the head of household; marital status; age at last birthday; sex; occupation; the county and parish of birth (if born in England or Wales), or the country if born elsewhere; and the full street address for each household. The birth information makes these censuses especially helpful for tracing ancestors born prior to the onset of civil registration in 1837.

Arrangement of the Census

Registration Districts

The census office organized the censuses by civil registration districts, which were subdivided into enumeration districts. The only exception is the 1841 census which was arranged by hundreds (administrative subdivisions of land). On the census films, each enumeration district includes a title page with the district number and a description of the area covered by the district.

Organizational Terminology

A number of organizational terms are given on a census page, here are a few.
  • Hundred (in the 1841 census)
  • Enumeration districts
  • Civil parish
  • Ecclesiastical parish
  • Page and folio numbers


Census Series Codes

Here are the department series codes used by The National Archives to catalog the census. The letters 'HO' stand for 'Home Office' and the letters 'RG refer to the 'General Register Office.' Both were government departments responsible for collecting census data at different times. These numbers are written on the bottom or side of each census page. They are used in census indexes, in combination with enumeration district numbers and page and folio numbers, to help you find a family or address in the census.
  • 1841 census: HO 107
  • 1851 census: HO 107
  • 1861 census (RG 9)
  • 1871 census (RG 10)
  • 1881 census (RG 11)
  • 1891 census (RG 12)
  • 1901 census (RG 13)
  • 1911 census (RG 14)

As census records are not released to the public until 100 years have passed, the 1911 census is the most recent one available.


The Census Form

Census returns are arranged in columns. Column titles are:
  • Place or street address
  • Name of each person living in the abode on the night of the census
  • Relationship to the head of the household
  • Age and sex, arranged by males and females
  • Profession, trade or employment
  • Where born


Markings Used in the Census

Most of the census records have various marks and checks on them. Some were made by the government workers in the process of compiling statistics.
The census collector drew a single diagonal line ( / ) after the last name in a family or household and a double diagonal line ( // ) after the last name in a building or housing unit. So a female servant (F.S.) or male servant (M.S.), who was not a member of the family with which he/she was residing, might have a single line before their name and a double line after the name.

Information Given

Relationships Given in the Census

Relationships are important when putting a family unit together. The most oft-used relationships in the census were:

  • Head
  • Wife
  • Son
  • Daughter  
  • Sister
  • Brother
  • Mother
  • Mother-in- Law 
  • Grandson
  • Granddaughter
  • Nephew
  • Niece  
  • Stepson
  • Stepdaughter
  • Servant
  • Visitor 

Ages in the 1841 Census

The census takers were instructed to give the exact ages of children but to round the ages of those older than 15 down to a lower multiple of 5. For example, a 59-year-old person would be listed as 55. Not all census enumerators followed these instructions. Some recorded the exact age; some even rounded the age up to the nearest multiple of 5.

Variations in Information

Enumerators recorded information in varying ways. Here are some of them.
  • Listing the given name first followed by the surname.
  • Listing the surname first followed by the first name.
  • Abbreviating the last name or place name as 'do.' This abbreviation is short for 'ditto' and means "the same as the above."
  • Abbreviating the relationship to the head of the household, such as Daur for daughter.
  • Abbreviating the name of county, such as Wilts for Wiltshire.
  • Abbreviating the condition, such as M (married), U or Un (unmarried), W (widow or widower).
  • Abbreviating the names of occupations, such as 'FWK' for frame work knitter, 'F.S.' for female servant, and 'Ag lab' for agricultural labourer.


Abbreviations of Occupations



Ag Lab

Agricultural Labourer
Annt Annuitant Labourer



Member of HM Land Forces, any Rank

Cl. Clerk
FS. Female Sevant
HP. Member of HM Forces on half pay
Ind. Independent, those living on their own means
J. Journeyman
M Manufacturer (as in Shoe m.)
MS. Male Servant
Navy Member of HM Naval Forces, inclding Marines.

Pensioners in HM Armed Forces


Shopman/Shop woman





















Whilst we would like to lay claim to the content on this page, it has been put together using snippets of many other similar web pages which can be found on the Internet. Although many, we would like to particularly acknowledge the Federation of Family History Societies web site for the basis of this text. 

Where do I start? 

Start with yourself, add your family, your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc., in fact, any relatives you can remember. Question older relatives, who can be invaluable in providing knowledge of ancestors you may not know of or have forgotten, remember though to always treat family stories with a 'pinch of salt'.  Your research may help to prove or disprove some commonly held beliefs about the origins of your family.

It is often useful to record these discussions, not only to double check your information later, but to have as a historical reference. 

Where do I go next?

In England and Wales people have been able to register births, marriages and deaths since 1 July 1837. Certificates of events occurring from this date can be obtained from local Register Offices or the Registrar General. You can search the General Register Office (GRO) indexes to these registrations at some local libraries and record offices who have copies in microform. Several commercial companies provide online digitised images of the index page for free, or for a fee . Free BMD is a web site that, as the name suggests, provides a free search facility for these indexes (see our Links page). 

What information can I expect on a certificate?

Birth ~ A birth certificate usually names both parents, including the mother's maiden surname. Knowing both parents' full names, you can search the indexes for a reference to their marriage.

  • Marriage ~ A marriage certificate usually supplies the names and occupations of the fathers of both parties.
  • Death ~ A death certificate usually provides the name of the deceased, the date, place and cause of death as well as the name of the person registering the death.
Simple steps like these can take your line well back into the nineteenth century.

My ancestry is Scottish or Irish. What do I do?

Civil Registration began in Scotland in 1855 and in Ireland in 1864. Certificates can be obtained from New Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh EHI 3YT (for Scotland) and from the General Register Office, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon, for Ireland. Registrations for Northern Ireland Northern Ireland from 1922 are at Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street, Belfast BTT 4HL. Before commencing this part of your research, however, you are strongly advised to read the relevant chapter in one of the many books available. 

How do I find out more about my ancestors' families?


A census is taken every ten years and the records become available for public scrutiny when they are 100 years old. We can therefore see, on microfilm or microfiche, those returns for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901. They are arranged under addresses, not names, and so to look at them on film or fiche you need to know where your family lived at those times to trace them. Details such as age, occupation and place of birth may be found on the census returns for 1851 and after. The 1841 census omits place of birth and relationships.

Where can I search the census returns?

A complete set for England and Wales is housed at The National Archives, Kew. Additionally, those pertaining to your area may be found at your local record office, library or family history society. Census indexes are also available online from commercial firms and images may be downloaded for a fee, your local library may provide this as a free service.

How do I get further back?

If you are researching prior to 1837 in England and Wales you will be largely dependent on the church (or parish) registers. These registers were introduced in 1538 and contain baptisms and burials (as distinct from births and deaths) and, of course, marriages. Although many early registers have been lost over the years, a surprising number still exist.

Where do I find parish registers?

Today, very few registers, other than those which are still in use, are held at churches. Many of the registers have been filmed and copies are widely available; ask at the relevant county record office or local studies library, or your nearest Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) Family History Centre. In addition to the registers, from 1598 parish priests had to send to their bishop an 'annual return', a copy of the register, known as a Bishops' Transcript. Those that still exist can be very useful in supplying entries omitted from the register or replacing a missing register.

What is this the IGI?

The IGI, or International Genealogical Index, is an index to about 800 million births, baptisms and marriages from around the world. The index is produced by the LDS, and is available in many libraries and record offices, and in the Church's own Family History Centres. It can also be found online at

How do I go about using Wills?

Wills and administrations, proved in England and Wales from 1858 are available at the Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP. Indexes can also be found at several record offices and libraries elsewhere. Before 1858 there was no national probate registry and research is more complicated as a result.

What else can I expect to find out about my family?

There are many other sources which you can search, far too many to list here. There are a number of useful books and magazines that may help, so ask at your local library. Keighley family history society publishes a selection of modestly priced books and CDs to help you with both your research. A complete list of our Publications and how to purchase them can be found on this site.

Join your local Family History Society.

They are groups of family historians who have an interest in a particular geographical area, such as a county, or live in that area. There are also special interest societies, for example a specific surname. You should definitely join your local society.

What benefits can I expect for my Membership?

Keighley & District family History Society holds regular meetings. Come along and join our activities, visitors are welcome. You may also find it useful to become a member of our society if we cover the areas in which your ancestors once lived.

Our members might be able to help with particular 'local research' problems, for example by visiting the churchyard to read and even photograph your grandfather's gravestone for you! Belonging to a family history society will also enable you to contact others who are tracing the same surname that you are, in the area where your ancestor lived.

How do I find someone already researching the same family as me?

Keighley & District family History Society publishes a yearly list of Members' Interests. By taking out a membership of our Society, you will be provided with the full details of each member. This will enable you to contact those who have registered similar interests as yourself.

You can also purchase international directories, such as the Genealogical Research Directory, or search the internet.

How do I record my information?

Today there are many reasonably priced computer programs to assist the Genealogist record their information. Many of these programs also produce report and charts which may be of use.

Regardless of what method you use, be sure to retain details of all sources of information and, where possible, obtain copies. It is also a good idea to scan and store copies of any data or certificates if you are able to do so. This data may be useful if you are using a computer program to store your information. Above all, be sure to regularly back up your data and perform virus checks.

There are many useful research aids available on the internet, many of which can be found on our Web Links page.


The following information was compiled in 2011 for the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS) and is reproduced here with permission.

It is a living document which is based on writings from the 1700 and 1800s that were available, as such it is not presented as being complete.  If you are able to add to the timeline please advise the Web Manager who will include the information here and update the author.





Based on writings from the 1700 & 1800s I was able to access.

Place names in brackets signify areas where disease especially deadly.

Not all epidemics listed nor all types of diseases included.  Diseases like tuberculosis, scurvy, syphilis, dysentery, infantile diarrhoea, enteritis,
respiratory ailments etc consistently took their toll especially in the crowded industrial centres & large cities





‘influenza’ in Summers, shift in late 1600s to Spring/Winter; smallpox already a killer disease; the Plague returned in force in 1665 but in smaller outbreaks in other years

1612 – 1651

The ‘new disease’ emerges in Britain.  Uncertain what it is – possibly typhus


Jan – June measles epidemic (London) followed by smallpox epidemic, mention of ‘hooping cough’; high diarrhoea in infants


Jan – June measles epidemic (London)


Influenza first identified in London written records – Europe wide epidemic


‘hooping cough’ again recorded


Early 1700s influenza occurs in Winter; later 1700s occurs all seasons.  Note the generational flare up of epidemics throughout the 1700s


Smallpox = 2000 deaths per year (London); 25% of all those infected; city disease most fatalities in children; basically a city disease therefore spread limited


Measles epidemic (London)


Measles epidemic (London)


Exceptionally cold winter; crops affected throughout that year




Smallpox epidemic (Manchester – 8000)


Measles epidemic (London); smallpox (London); influenza epidemic


Measles epidemic (London); smallpox epidemic (London) followed by severe influenza


Measles epidemic (York); general smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York


General smallpox epidemic severe in Halifax, Ripon, York


Smallpox.  Inoculation developed & gaining acceptance


Measles (Ripon) followed by whooping cough & scarlatina /diphtheria (Ripon)


Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (Ripon)


Scarlatina /diphtheria epidemic (York & Plymouth)


Whooping cough especially in London; measles epidemic


Measles epidemic; smallpox especially severe in York


Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon


Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon


Scarlatina /diphtheria especially severe Plymouth, Cornwall & Devon; smallpox


Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)


Intensely cold winter; scarlatina (London)


Severe typhus (London)


Severe typhus (London); measles epidemic


Scarlatina (Sheffield)


Scarlatina especially severe in London; smallpox


Scarlatina especially severe in London


Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic


Scarlatina especially severe in London & epidemic in Cornwall, Kidderminster, St Albans although present across country; typhus epidemic


Widespread Scarlatina epidemics rife throughout the 1750s Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)


Scarlatina (Plymouth, London, Kidderminster epidemic)




Measles epidemic


Smallpox (Manchester 19,839)


Influenza type epidemic


Measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic (Newcastle, Yorkshire)


Measles epidemic; Influenza type epidemic recorded in horses




Paving Act improved health in some cities


Measles epidemic (London)


Scarlatina epidemic (London)


Typhus epidemic in Chester; smallpox epidemic (Manchester 27,246)


Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire)


Scarlatina epidemic (Worcestershire); typhus epidemic


Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic; measles epidemic; smallpox epidemic (London)


‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley; smallpox


‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley


Laki volcano erupts (Iceland) volcanic winter follows; Typhus epidemic; dysentery; ‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley


‘Plague ague’ along the River Severn Valley


Measles epidemic; dysentery; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)


Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London)


Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic; scarlatina & ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year


Extremely hot summer; scarlet fever; ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); scarlatina epidemic; typhus 3124 deaths a year


Scarlet fever; ‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year


‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus epidemic (Liverpool 160 cases per month); typhus 3124 deaths a year


‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus among the well to do  across England; typhus 3124 deaths a year


‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year


‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year; croup/dipheria epidemic (London); scarlatina & diphtheria epidemic (Buckinghamshire)


‘the sore throat’ disease (London); typhus 3124 deaths a year


Typhus 3124 deaths a year


Measles epidemics more frequent & becoming more severe; typhus 3124 deaths a year; smallpox epidemic; measles followed & recorded as becoming more severe in its effects


Influenza like epidemic amongst cats


Influenza like epidemic amongst cats


Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic spreads from London to rest of country


Typhus epidemic; scarlatina epidemic


Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex); scarlatina epidemic (Middlesex) then rest of country (Suffolk, Northampton)


Severe measles epidemic (Middlesex)


Influenza (London, British troops in Ireland, Bath, Chester) – spreads along coach roads; scarlatina (Yorkshire Quaker schools especially hit)


Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)


Scarlatina epidemic (south west, Manchester)


Scarlatina severe outbreaks


Severe measles epidemic (London) exceeds smallpox as killer of children, adult deaths also significant especially London; Scarlatina severe outbreaks


Typhus epidemic; scarlatina (Nottingham, Suffolk)


Measles epidemic


Measles epidemic


Severe winter; measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic


Measles epidemic


Year Without A Summer’ Very poor harvest; famine, food riots, Welsh leave to to beg for food in England; general smallpox epidemic; 100,000 Irish dead


‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax, Leeds, Ripon, Huudersfield, Wakefield, Atley, Carlisle 1 in 10 died, Newcastle, it was milder but longer lasting, particularly affected servants to the well to do


‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax, Leeds, Ripon, Huudersfield, Wakefield, Atley, Carlisle 1 in 10 died, Newcastle, it was milder but longer lasting, particularly affected servants to the well to do; Measles epidemic in eastern counties


‘the Irish disease’ (probably typhus) London 1 in 14 died; severe in Halifax; smallpox epidemic (Norwich)


Measles epidemic south especially Exeter


Excessively high temperatures also excessive rains followed by the Great Drought; general ‘fevers’ epidemic; typhus (Manchester over 31,474)


High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought


High temperatures also excessive rains followed by drought


Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic


First record of cholera – Asiatic cholera (Sunderland, Newcastle on Tyne, Newburn) spread throughout Britain attacking all classes; epidemic (30,000); ‘malignant scarlatina’ countrywide (Plymouth, Staffordshire); Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic


Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic


Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic


Highly virulent strain of typhus (spotted typhus) epidemic


Excessively wet winter


Measles epidemic; typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 18,775; smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate)


Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); typhus epidemic (London, Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 15,666; in London 18,775


Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate); scarlatina epidemic; typhus epidemic (Manchester, Liverpool) deaths in north 17,177; in London 15,666


Smallpox epidemic (south west England & Wales extremely high mortality rate, Lancashire); scarlet fever outbreak continued for next 30-40 years in severe proportions; cholera epidemic (Dorset, Lancashire); typhus kills 17,177 in London


Typhus epidemic (London 14,846)


Typhus epidemic (London 16,201)


The Great Scarlatina epidemic


Excessively hot summer, drought – all diseases flare up across the country; ‘famine fever’/Irish fever (typhus) 500,00 to 1 million died between 1846 & 1848 Lancashire & Cheshire very badly hit, floating hospital ships o the Mersey Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Leeds, Hull, York, Sunderland all systematically saw dramatically increased death rates


Famine; typhus epidemic (30,320);


Good harvest, fall in food prices, employment rises; Typhus epidemic 21,406 epidemic ended with increase in employment & drop in food prices; cholera epidemic 62,000; scarlatina epidemic


Cholera epidemic (north, Newcastle 26,000, London 10,000); vaccination against smallpox made compulsory but not always done (see death rate for 1870)


Cholera epidemic (north, Newcastle 26,000, London 10,000).  John Snow's epidemiological study of this outbreak identified drinking contaminated water as the main mode of transmission of cholera.


Typhus epidemic (London) followed returning soldiers from Crimean War; diphtheria epidemic


Diphtheria epidemic


Diphtheria epidemic; scarlatina epidemic


Scarlatina epidemic


American cotton crop fails Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns


Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns


Scarlatina epidemic (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns


Scarlatina epidemic  (South West) followed by chronic measles epidemic; Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns


Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns


Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; whooping cough epidemic; cholera epidemic 14,000


Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns; cholera epidemic 14,000


Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London)


Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford)


Scarlatina epidemic; ‘relapsing fever/typhus (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford,); smallpox 23,100; decline of tuberculosis also decline in typhus


Smallpox 19,000






Severe scarlatina epidemic; smallpox




Whooping cough epidemic


Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic


Severe measles epidemic; scarlatina epidemic


Smallpox epidemic; hospital ships moored in Thames


Krackatoa eruption; Measles epidemic


Measles epidemic


Measles epidemic


Severe measles epidemic in Staffordshire


Measles epidemic; influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.  Medical opinion that this strain the same mutation that returned in the 1918 pandemic


Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.


Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.


Influenza pandemic between a third & a half of population ill.


Severe measles epidemic amongst infants (London)


Influenza pandemic 50 million die world wide


Influenza pandemic 50 million die world wide – London 23,000 deaths



The difficulty in matching the names given to diseases with the diseases themselves is complicated by the often descriptive nature of the name which could fit a number of diseases plus the local names given to various diseases eg. Puerperal fever was variously known as childbed fever, nursing fever & sometimes white leg fever although the latter was a completely different ailment.  The following diseases - typhus, scarlet fever, scarlatina, smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, infantile diarrhoea, relapsing fever, scurvy – are the ones covered in the list below.

Famine fever

typhus, relapsing fever

‘new disease’ (1663) typhus
Spotted typhus virulent typhus strain (especially 1830 – 34)
‘Irish disease’ typhus, possibly relapsing fever
Putrid fever typhus
Gaol fever typhus
Hospital fever typhus
Enteric fever typhoid
‘purpyles’ scrlatina/diptheria
Military fever scarlatina/diphtheria
‘New distempers’ influenza? Influenza type respiratory disease
‘Plague ague’ (late 1700s) unclear Malaria???
Chin cough whooping cough?
Convulsions whooping cough?
Kink whooping cough
Griping in the guts diarrhoea
Gripe diarrhoea or cholera symptons
Epidemic catarrh influenza? Bronchitis
Croup diphtheria
Consumption tuberculosis
Wasting sickness tuberculosis
Tertians malaria
Intermittents recurring fever
Agues fever
Great pox syphilis






On reading inventories which often accompany Wills, it can be very difficult to decipher many of the words, especially as some would be in local dialect and with odd spellings. Here are some of the words you may come across.


Acare (ackare, acker, accor, anakr) - acre
Addle - to earn
Ale - all
Andirons (end irons) - horizontal bars on 3 short feet with upright pillar in front.  They were placed on each side of the hearth to support burning wood
Apern (aporn apranne) - apron
Apparayle (apparel, aprel, reparele) - clothing
Aule - hall
Ax - to ask
Backsyde - the buildings and yard behind the house
Bacyn (basene) - basin
Auld - old
Bage - bag
Balandes (balances) - scales
Balde (bareyne) - barren
Ballies (balles, ballaysses, balwys, bellis) - bellows
Bearing cloth - christening robe or shawl
Bease (bese) - beasts
Beddys (beede) - bed
Bed hilling (berydynd) - bedding
Besse - bees
Bink (benk, binche, benche) - bench
Boetts - boots
Boke - book
Boket (bowkitt) - bucket
Bolokke - bullock
Bord close (bord hillings) - table cloths
Boute - without
Branches - chandeliers
Bruse - brush
Bucking cooler (bucking tub) - washing tub
Cafes - calves
Caples (caplyes, capuls, capolles) - horses
Caye - cows
Caytie (cetle, keytell) - kettle (an open cooking pot)
Charys (chers) - chairs
Chaunlor - candlestick
Chiste ( cheess, Kyste, chiest) - chest
Chechin - kitchen
Clock - cloak
Close - clothes
Deigest (dext) - desk
Ewre / Ewer (youre, owre, ure, yer) - pitcher for carrying water
Filids - fields
Foole (fawlie, foulle, foyle) - foal
Gakett - jacket
Galland - gallon
Geys, goys, gousse - geese/goose
Gonne - gun
Hallfer, heckfer - heifer
Hey, hye - hay
Hinde - farm worker
Hobby - pony or small horse
Hode - old
Husband - a husbandman, one who works the land
Husbandry gear - farm equipment
Husslements - minor household goods of little value
Jack - device for turning the spit when roasting meat
Koo, Kyne - cow(s)
Lathe, laithe - barn
Maunger - manger/feeding trough
Mazer - deep plate or bow
Meden - maid servant
Mester - master of the house
Mullock - rubbish
Nappery - household linen especially tableware
Nellys - nails
Pattens - overshoes or clogs which raised the wearer an inch or two above the mud
Peges - pigs
Pelowes - pillows
Pond - pound
Pullen - poultry
Rement, rayment - clothing
Saue - saw
Seeing glass - mirror
Selvar - silver
Sevand - servant
Sherne - churn
Sheytes - sheets
Soe - a large tub
Soope - soap
Sot sellares - salt cellars
Stewe - vessel for cooking
Stithie, stethe, stiddy - anvil
Tack - tenancy of land, a lease
Taverne - a cellar
Touled - towel
Tumbler - drinking cup with rounded bottom so that it could not be put down until empty
Tup - ram
Twilt - quilt
Unguents - ointments
Urchin - hedgehog
Waght - weight
Wenche - a girl, maidservant or baby girl
Wessing - washing
Woddinge - wooden
Woll - wool
Writings - legal documents
Wyesel - vessel
Yate - gate
Yoyne - young





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