Latin Primer

When you reach the sixteenth and seventeenth century on your family tree you will encounter Latin in record keeping. This makes deciphering the records very challenging since Latin is rarely taught today and those that had in their youth have since forgotten it.

One of the first things you need to know about is numbers.
Below is a list of numbers in the different forms that they can come in.
Many church records use the Ordinal form with an 'o' at the end.
For example, septimo for the 7th, decimo for the 10th and vicessimo for the 20th.


1 unus 1st primus primo
2 duo, duea 2nd secondus secundo
3 tres, tria 3rd tertius tertio
4 quattuor 4th quatrus quarto
5 quinque 5th quintus quinto
6 sex 6th sextus sexto
7 septem 7th septimus septimo
8 octo 8th octavus octavo
9 novem 9th nonus nono
10 decem 10th decimus decimo
11 undecim 11th undecimus unidecimo
12 dudecim 12th duodecimus duodecimo
13 tredecim 13th tertius decimus tertio decimo
14 quattuordecim 14th quartus decimus quarto decimo
15 qundecim 15th quntius decimus quinto decimo
16 sedecim 16th sextus decimus sexto decimo
17 setemdecim 17th septimus decimus septimo decimo
18 odeviginti 18th duo devicesmus duodevicesimo
19 undeviginti 19th undeviceimus unodevicesimo
20 viginti 20th vicesimus or vigesimus vicesimo
21 viginti unus 21st viceimus primus vicesimo primo
22 viginti duo 22nd vicesimus secundus vicesimo secundo
23 viginti tre 23rd vicesimus tertius vicesimo tertio
24 viginti quattuor 24th viceimus quatrus vicesimo quarto
25 viginti quinque 25th vicesimus quintus vicesimo quinto
26 viginti sex 26th vicesimus sextus vicesmo sexto
27 viginti septem 27th vicesimus septimus vicesmo septimo
28 viginti octo 28th vicesimus octavus, dueodetricesimus dueodetriceimo
29 viginti novem 29th vicesimus nonus, undetericemimus undetericesimo
30 trigenta 30th tricesimus tricesimo
31 tiginta unus, unus et triginta 31st triceimus primus, unus et tricesimus tricesimo primo
40 quandraginta 40th quandragesimus
50 quinquaginta 50th quinquagerimus

Another way of expressing numbers centuries ago was to use Roman numerals.
They are written in combinations of the seven letters show below.
The letters can be written in capitals (XVI) or lower-case (xvi) letters.

I = 1
V = 5
L = 50
C = 100
D = 500
X = 10
M = 1000

If smaller value numbers follow value larger value numbers, add the values together. If a smaller value number precedes a larger value number subtract the smaller from the larger. For example:

VII = (5+2) = 7
IX = (10-1) = 9
XL = (50-10) = 40
MDCCII = 100+500+200_2 = 1702
MCMLXIV = 1000+(1000-100)+50+10+(5-1) = 1964

Common Roman Numerals

1 = I 14 = XIV 27 = XXVII 150 = CL
2 = II 15 = XV 28 = XXVIII 200 = CC
3 = III 16 = XVI 29 = XXIX 300 = CCC
4 = IV 17 = XVII 30 = XXX 400 = CD
5 = V 18 = XVIII 31 = XXXI 500 = D
6 = VI 19 = XIX 40 = XL 600 = DC
7 = VII 20 = XX 50 = L 700 = DCC
8 = VIII 21 = XXI 60 = LX 800 = DCCC
9 = IX 22 = XXII 70 = LXX 900 = CM
10 = X 23 = XXIII 80 = LXXX 1000 = M
11 = XI 24 = XXIV 90 XC 1600 = MDC
12 = XII 25 = XXV 100 = C 1700 = MDCC
13 = XIII 26 = XXVI 101 = CI 1800 = MDCCC

Dates and Time

In Latin records, dates are often written out.
Numbers usually end with an 'o' when used within a date.

For example: Anno Dominio millesimo sescentesimo nongesimo quarto et die decimo septimo mensis Maii.

Translation: In the year of (our) Lord one thousand six hundred ninety-four, and on the seventeenth day of the month of May.

Note: Sometimes i and j are used interchangeably, so you can have Maii and Maij, which both mean the month of May.

English Latin
January Januarius, Januarij
February Februarius, Februarij
March Martius, Marcij
April Aprilis
May Maius, Maij
June Junius, Junij
July Julius, Julij
August Augustus, Augustij
September September, Septembris, 7ber, VIIber
October October, Octobris, 8ber, VIIIber
November November, Nouembris, 9ber, IXber
December December, Decembris, 10ber, Xber
Days of the Week
English Latin
Sunday dominica, dies dominuca, dominicus, dies Solis, feria prima
Monday feria seconda, dies Lunae, lune
Tuesday feria tertia, dies Martis, martis
Wednesday feria quarta, dies Mercurii, mercurii, mercurinus, mercoris
Thursday feria qunta, dies Jovis, jovis
Friday feria sexta, dies Verenis, verneris
Saturday feria septima, sabbatum, dies sabbatinus, dies Satumi, sabbati
Phrases Indicating Time
Latin English
anno domini in the year of our Year
anno incarnationis in the year (since/of) the incarnation of the Lord
annus bissextus (bissextilis) leap year
anti, ante before
ante meridiem before noon (a.m.)
altera die on the next day
biduum space of two days, two-day period
cras tomorrow
die sequenti on the following day
die vero this very day
ejustdem die of the same day
eodem anno in the same year
eodem die on the same day
eodem mense in the same month
eo tempore at this time
hodie today
long tempore for a long time
mane in the morning
meridie noon
nocte at night
nudius terius three days earlier
nunc dies terius three days earlier
nunc temporis of the present time
perendi day after tommorow
pomerid after noon (p.m.)
post meridiem after noon (p.m.)
postridie on the day after, a day later
pridie the day before
pro tempore for (at) the time
triduum three day period
tunc temporis of former time
vespere in the evening

Latin Genealogical Terms

English Latin
birth nati, natus, genitus, natales, ortus, oriundus
burial sepulti, sepulutus, humantus, humantio
christening baptismi, baptizatus, renatus, plutus, lautus, purgatus, ablutus, lustratio
child ifans, filius (son of), filia (daughter of), puer, proles
death mortutuus, defunctus, obitus, denatus, decessus, peritus, mors, mortis, obiit, decessit
father pater
husband maritus, sponsus, conjus, vir
marriage martimonium, copulatio, copulati, conjuncti, nupti, sponsati, ligati, mariti
marriage banns banni, proclamationes, denuntiationes
mother mater
name, given name nomen
name, surname cognomen
parents parentes, genitores
premature birth abortivus
stillborn son or daughter anonymus, anonyma
stranger, foreigner ambo
wife vxor, uxor, marita, conjux, sponsa, mulier, femina, consors
widow vidua, relicta
widower viduas, relictus

Now that you have been exposed to a bit of Latin you can now test your knowledge against some entries from a Gisburn, Yorkshire parish register in the 16th century.

Anno Elizabethe Tricessimo primo
Willmus filius Johis Ellingthropp decimo septimo die Nouembris
Hericus filus Henrici Wilkinson de Horton secunda Februarij
Ellena filia Chri: Hornbie Junro quarto die Aprilis 1589
Deonis filius Eduardi Bruskay vicessimo die aprilis
Robertus filius Richi Fort terio die maij
Thomas filius Antho Carr decimo quinto die Junij
Rihus filius Johis Junior quinto die Augustij
Johis filius Tho: Cooke de Coate decimo die Augustij

In the Year of our Lord Elizabeth 31 i.e. The 31st year of Elizabeth I reign, 1589
William son [of] John Ellingthrop 17th day [of] November
Henry son [of] Henry Wilkinson from Horton Second [day of] February
Ellen or Ellena daughter [of] Christopher Hornbie Junior 4th day [of] April 1589
Deon? son [of] Edward Bruskay 20th day [of] April
Robert son [of] Richard Fort 3rd day [of] May
Thomas son [of] Anthony Carr 15th day [of] June
Richard son [of] John Junior [last name missing] 5th day [of] August
John son [of] Thomas Cooke from Coate 10th day [of] August

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Last updated: December 24, 2002