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Making sense of old handwriting

Common Latin Phrases

Common Phrases used in Parish Records

Reading old parish records can be much easier when one understands and becomes familiar with the format of those records. Most christening, marriage, and burial records written after the Council of Trent follow the same pattern and include basically the same phrases. The following is a list of commonly used phrases found in old christening, marriage, and burial records.


Latin Phrase Meaning
idem, eadem; eiusdem same; of the same
dictus, -a the said
predictus, -a; prefatus, -a; anededictus, -a the aforesaid
infrascriptus, -a; subscriptus, -a undersigned
ut supra as above, as stated above [usually refers to the date]


Latin Phrase Meaning
Anno Domini milmo septingmo decimo octavo In the year of the Lord one thousand seven hundred eighteen
sexto Martii 1601 On the sixth of March of 1601
Die XXI ultimo On the twenty-first day in the previous month
Mortuus est die octavo Octobris anno predicto He died on the eighth day of October in the aforesaid year


Latin Phrase Meaning
Loci Londonie... In the town of London...
In situ Florentie... In the place of Florence...
Parochia... In the parish...
Diocesi... In the diocese...
Ecclesiae parochialis... Of the parochial church... 
Ibdem In the same place
Locus baptismi The place of the baptism
Domicilium/ii Residence/of the residence
Civis municipalis Citizen of the municipality
Tenens ibdem Tenant of the same place
Villa Monte Gomeri Town of Montgomery


Latin Phrase Meaning
parochus parish priest
sacerdos, sacerdotis priest
clericus clergyman
municeps magistrate
prefectus magistrate
bacallarius bachelor [refers to academic degree, not marital status]
vicarius vicar
frater friar, brother
Reverendus Pater Reverend Father
cum licentia with permission
ex licentia parochi by license of the parish priest
cum venia parochi with permission of the parish priest
loci... of the place...

Relationship / Legitimacy

Latin Phrase Meaning
viduus; vidua widower; widow
relictus; relicta widower; widow
filius legitimatus / filia legitimata legitimate child
filius/filia naturalis natural-born child
filius spurius / filia spuria illegitimate child
filius illegitimus / filia illegitima illegitimate child
filius/filia populi illegitimate child
ignoti parentis of unknown parentage/parents
filius inventus / filia inventa foundling [literally "found child"]
filius expositus / filia exposita abandoned child
patris ignoti of unknown father

Witnesses / Godparents

Latin Phrase Meaning
Testes/Testibus Witnesses...
Praesentibus testibus... Present witnesses...
Testes fuerunt... The (present/eye)witnesses were...
Patroni/susceptores fuerunt... The godparents were...
Praesens matrina... Present godmother


Latin Phrase Meaning
In quorum fidem... In confirmation whereof/of which (I sign)
His/Hiis testibus With these (people) as witnesses
Signum fecit He/she signed/made a mark
Manu propria (signed) in his/her/my own hand


Latin Phrase Meaning
baptisatus/-a est/erat/fuit (He/she) was baptized
baptisatus/-a the baptized
renatus/-a reborn (in baptism)
natus/-a est He/she was born
genitus/-a est He/she was born
nomen baptisati/-ae The name of the baptized
nomina baptisati/-ae The names of the baptized
baptisavi/baptizavi I baptized


Latin Phrase Meaning
ab formatione Santi/Sancti Concilii Tridentini (ab formae S C T) according to the format of the Holy Council of Trent
fiat licentia Let a (marriage) license be granted
Denuntiationibus praemissis tribus continuis diebus festivis With the banns (having been) published/announced on three successive festival/holy days
inter missarum solemnia in/during solemn mass
nulloque legitimo detecto impedimento And with no legitimate impediment (having been) detected
nulloque impedimento detecto And with no impediment (having been) detected
cum dispensatione apostolica with an apostolic dispensation
nomina nuptorum the names of the married
nupti erant (they) were married
conjuncti fuerunt (they) were married
mariti fuerunt (they) were married
connubio juncti erant (they) were joined in matrimony
copulati sunt in matrimonio (they) were joined in matrimony
contraxerunt matrimonium (they) contracted matrimony
uxorem duxit he took as (his) wife / he took to wife
in facie ecclesiae in the presence of the congregation
per verba de prasenti using words in the present (tense) [performing an actual marriage, as opposed to a promise to marry]
secundum Rituale Romanum according to Rituale Romanum [a book prescribing the form of Catholic ceremonies]
juxta ritum Sancti Matris Ecclesiae according to the order of the Holy Mother Church
testes fuerunt the witnesses were
nuptiae solemnizatae the solemnized nuptials


Latin Phrase Meaning
mortuus/-a est (he/she) died
sepultus/-a est/erat (he/she) was buried
tumulatus/-a est/erat (he/she) was buried
sepelivi I buried
nomen defuncti/-ae the name of the dead
nomen sepulti/-ae the name of the buried
Missa pro defunctis a mass for the dead [usually in the context of a funeral]
Missa defunctorum a mass of/for the dead [usually in the context of a funeral]
omnibus sacramentis provisis with all last rights (having been) provided
sacramentis totiis munitus/-a (he/she was) fortifed by the last rights
testamentum will
suum ordinaverat testamenum ante obitus he/she had put in order his/her will before his/her death


Paleography Introduction