Here's where I'm going to stick the miscellaneous stuff that won't fit anywhere else, like interesting factoids, tips on exploring your roots in this area, important announcements, and anything else I feel like putting up. Got an idea for something that should go here? Let me know!
Unusual / Unexpected Pronunciations:
I have learned that many of the place names and family names are pronounced much differently that I had been pronouncing them for years. Here are the ones I've gathered:
Surname, pronounced as Beech'-um, not as Bow'-shahmp.
Surname, pronounced as Bow'-in or Bow'n (the "ow" to rhyme with "snow", not "cow"). The "d" is usually not pronounced. Occasionally, though, heard as Bow'-din (again, though, with the "ow" to rhyme with "snow", not "cow").
Surname, pronounced as Bahz'-man, not as Boze'-man.
Place name, pronounced as Muh-no'-kin, not as Man'-i-kin.
Place name, pronouced as Mat-uh-puh-nye', not as Mat'-a-poh-nee.
Place name, pronounced as Muh-nye', not as Moan'-ee.
Surname, pronounced as Seers (or "Sears", like the store), not as Say'-ers.
Place name, pronounced as Wee-tip'-kin or as Wee-tip'-kwin (depending on who you ask ).
Place name, pronounced as Wye-cahm'-ih-co, not as Wih-co'-mih-co or (God forbid) Wee'-co-mee'-co.
Surname, pronounced as Winn'-der (as in, " 'Deed, he done thrown her out'n the winder"), not as Wine'-der.
Place name, pronounced as Wooss'-ter (the "oo" to rhyme with "book", not "boot"), not as War'-chess-ter.
Olde Somerset County's Parishes
Old Somerset County (which includes today's Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester Counties in Maryland, along with a portion of Sussex County in Delaware), was divided into four Parishes in the Anglican Church (Episcopalian). Each Parish was comprised of two Hundreds, which were early geographical boundaries.
SOMERSET PARISH: Manokin Hundred and Monie Hundred
COVENTRY PARISH: Pocomoke Hundred and Annemessex Hundred
STEPNEY PARISH: Wicomico Hundred and Nanticoke Hundred
SNOW HILL PARISH: Bogettenorton Hundred and Mattapony Hundred
If you are unfamiliar with the boundaries of Olde Somerset's Hundreds, check out the Eastern Shore Maps page on the Handley's Eastern Shore Maryland Genealogy Project web site. About half-way down the page, you'll see a clickable link with the words "Somerset Hundreds". Clicking on this link will show you a map outlining the geographic boundaries of all eight Olde Somerset County Hundreds.
Land and Probate Record Numbering
Land and probate records in Somerset and Wicomico Counties seem to have an odd numbering scheme, consisting of Libers numbered with a letter or series of letters. The earliest land records start with Liber B Number 1, and go on to CD, IK, IKL, EI, L1, L2, etc. Then, the records started being numbered with the initials of the clerk in office at the time. For instance, Liber LW indicates that it was recorded during Levin Woolford's term as clerk. Probate records are also numbered according to the initials of the clerk, such as EB - Esme Bayley.
Problematic Colonial Terms:
Some of the terms we come across in wills, deeds, and other documents may lead us in the wrong direction unless we are aware of how the meanings of these terms may have been different in colonial times.
brother / sister
May indicate blood relations, step-brother or sister, church brother or sister.
brother-in-law / sister-in-law
Any kinship through marriage; could be a step-child or step-parent, for instance.
Any relative not in the immediate family.
goodman / goodwife / "goody"
Social position one step below the "gentleman" or "gentlewoman".
A person whose passage to America was paid in return for an agreement to serve for a specified number of years.
Jr. or Sr.
This designation did not always imply a father-son relationship. It was used to distinguish individuals with identical names. The term may be dropped if one dies.
Mr. / Mrs. / Mistress
Titles of social position; Mrs. was used for both married and unmarried women.
mother / father
Could mean in-law.
"my now wife" or "my present wife"
This was a legal phrase and did not necessarily mean there was a former spouse.
Usually meant not adopted; did not imply illegitimacy.
nephew / niece
The Latin "nepos" or "neptis" means grandson or granddaughter. This term may occasionally have this earlier meaning.
One who serves; not necessarily socially inferior, such as an apprentice.