Early Terminology Used in Colonial America.

I found the following terminology rather interesting in understanding life in the Colonial Days.

Ancient Planter-  Someone who came to Virginia prior to Sir Thomas Dale’s May 1616 departure and had lived in the colony for at least three years when applying for a patent.  Ancient planters were eligible for 100 acres of land and had a few other privileges.

Escheat:  the revision of land to the Crown or other granting party (in the case of Proprietary territories) when a patentee failed to leave heirs or was found guilty of a major crime.

Established Church:  The Anglican Church, which was the Virginia colony’s state church until the time of the American Revolution.

First (1st) Supply:  the first group of new colonists to arrive in Jamestown after the initial establishment of settlement.  They landed in January 1608.

Freedom Dues:  the allotment of corn and clothes usually provided to a newly freed servant who had completed his/her agreed upon term of service.

Headright:  an entitlement of 50 acres of land, awarded to someone who paid for his own (or another person’s) transportation to Virginia.

Hundreds:  a seventeenth century term used in reference to a large plantation .  Prior to the formation of county government, the leaders of Hundreds were authorized to settle petty disputes and perform other functions associated with leadership.

Indentured Servant: a person of either sex who agreed to work for a specific amount of time in exchange for transportation, food, shelter, and clothing. A guardian could sign a contract on a minor child’s behalf.

Old Style and New Style Calendar Dates:  An Old Style, or Julian Calendar was in general use in England until 1752.  With the Old Style Calendar, March 25th was the first day of the new year. (New Year’s Day).

Parish: The geographic area served by a church.

Plant: to clear, develop or settle upon unclaimed or vacant land, a requirement for validating one’s title, synonymous with seat.

Tobacco Note:  a certificate obtained from a tobacco inspector certifying that an individual had available a certain number of hogsheads of saleable tobacco. Tobacco notes were used as a medium of exchange, much like currency.

Vestry:  A small committee of elected church official’s who were responsible for overseeing the business of their parish.  Colonial vestries, always male, were responsible for maintaining church property, and during the early seventeenth century, for seeing that moral laws were enforced.  Vestrymen also were responsible for public welfare.

McCartney, Martha W. “Jamestown People to 1800, Landowners, Public officials, Minorities and Native Leaders,  Genealogical Publishing Company,  Maryland (2012)


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