Switzerland, Vaud Terrier Records
This Collection will include records from 1234 to 1798.
These are digital images of feudal land records from the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland, now housed at the Archives Cantonales Vaudoises (ACV), where they are classified as "Series F." The volumes are arranged by bailiff (governor or custodian) or by district. The text is in French and Latin. Before 1536, during the period when the territory of the modern Canton of Vaud was ruled by the house of Savoye, the records are mostly in Latin. After 1536, during the period when Vaud was ruled by Bern, the records are mostly in French. After the Revolution of 1798, Vaud became an independent Canton and the feudal system was abolished.
Similar volumes that cover parts of the territory of Vaud also exist in the archives of the neighboring Cantons, in the archives of the cities and communes of Vaud, and in the archives of Turin, Italy (seat of the old government of Savoye). The ACV also has a few volumes of similar content that are not part of "Series F", not included in the present digital collection. The digital collection will eventually be indexed. Images are being added to the collection gradually, eventually expected to reach a total of about 1,600,000 images. The first group to be posted is classified as ACV Fc, covering the district of Aigle.
During the feudal regime, land was usually held "in fief". That is, individuals held land under the obligation to make annual payments of money, commodities, or other duties to a higher authority such as a lord or "Seigneur", a religious institution such as an abbey or a local church, a city, or some other institution such as a charitable hospital or a confraternity. The various Seigneurs and institutions needed to keep track of the amounts that were owed to them, and therefore compiled books (or sometimes long scrolls) listing this information. These compilations are the "terriers".
Most of the terriers consist of "reconnaissances", a sort of legal contract. The literal translation in English would be "recognitions". The individual property holders "recognize" or acknowledge that they owe specific amounts of money, commodities, or other duties to the "Seigneur" or institution, in return for holding specific properties. From these transactions, the other term for these volumes is derived: "Grosses de reconnaissances", literally "fat books" of reconnaissances.
The "reconnaissance" has a relatively standardized format, with many similarities to modern contracts. The names of the parties are given, along with the descriptions of the individual properties and the obligations that are attached to each one. The property holders acknowledge that they do owe, and legally should owe, the specific amounts, pledging all their assets to uphold and support the contract. There should be a specific date, the names of the witnesses, and a signature by the notary.
Most terriers have a "répertoire" at the front, either in the form of a simple table of contents, or an alphabetical index of some sort. For the purposes of the present digital collection, however, these "répertoires" are found at the end of the series of images for each volume. The images of the répertoires will show an R before the page number. Until indexing of this collection is complete, the répertoires for each volume are probably the best way to locate individual transactions. A few cases are known where the répertoire now at the front of the volume is evidently the index to some other volume. In a very few cases, only the répertoire remains, the entire text having disappeared.
The LDS Church has microfilmed parish registers for the Canton of Vaud from the 1560's up to 1821. Most of the filmed registers are from Protestant parishes. Many of the registers were filmed with multiple "répertoires" or indexes. However, due to gaps in the records, incomplete information, and illegible or damaged pages, the church records will not solve all genealogical problems. For the period when church records exist, the terriers provide an alternative source of genealogical information, supplementing and extending the church records. For the period when there are no surviving church records, the terriers are the main source of genealogical information. The terriers can also suggest the names of other parishes whose church records should be examined.
Many of the terriers show signs of damage from moisture, mice, and other accidents. The decision to digitize the terriers was made partly in order to prevent further damage from handling these volumes, some of which had become very fragile. In other cases, terriers were purposely destroyed, for example during a sort of popular rebellion in 1802 (the "Bourla-Papey" incident), in which roving gangs of disaffected peasants raided local archives, burning whatever feudal records they could find, reasoning that without the records, it would not be possible to continue the feudal system.
There are also cases where the terriers have suffered more mysterious damages. For example, all the pages relating to one village may have been removed from a particular volume. In such cases, all that remains may be the "répertoire" or table of contents of the volume, the whereabouts of the actual text now unknown.
This digital collection of feudal land and property records from the Canton of Vaud covers the years 1234 to 1798.
The terriers were created to keep track of money and commodities owed during the feudal era.
Handwriting varies, of course, ranging from clear and elegant to completely illegible, which in turn may lead to incorrect transcriptions. While many of the terriers were created with great care, and with the expectation that they would be permanent, legal records, the fact that they were created by human hands means that occasional errors should be expected.
Whether written in Latin or in French, these records contain many abbreviations. When a line is found over an m, an n, or a vowel, it usually means an m or an n has been omitted. There are also abbreviations or shorthand symbols for syllables ending in r, and for common word endings, both in Latin and in French. Comparison with parallel passages in other transactions in the same terrier will usually reveal the correct reading of the abbreviations.
Spelling is extremely variable throughout the period. The notion that there was one "correct" spelling of anything does not seem to have been widely held. Consequently, the main difficulty for the genealogist is not to decide which spelling is the "correct" one, but rather to determine if the different spellings do in fact all refer to the same person or family.
Given the possibility of errors, it is always prudent to examine as many terriers as possible. If multiple references to a particular person or family can be located, it becomes possible to spot the occasional slip of the pen, or at least to identify the cases where the terriers disagree on particular facts. And there were so many feudal authorities in the territory of Vaud that it was not uncommon for one family to have feudal obligations to half a dozen different "Seigneurs", each maintaining a separate series of terriers. The redundancy inherent in the feudal system, as implemented in Vaud, usually gives us multiple sources of information for each family.
When the "commissaire" who compiled each terrier found he had made a mistake, he usually did not cross out the wrong word, or attempt an erasure. Rather, he marked the incorrect word by enclosing it in a box of dotted lines, or by underlining it with a dotted line. Then he wrote the correct word. These corrections are easily overlooked! Words may also have been inserted, usually flagged by a symbol at the point of insertion, with the inserted material at the bottom of the page, marked by the same symbol.
For a list of records by event currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.
Slovak Church Books
Entries are usually arranged in chronological order and, after 1784, in a columnar format. Sometimes, baptisms, marriages, and burials are kept all for all villages in a parish each year. Other times, each village has its own section of baptisms, marriages, and burials, listed chronologically. Some records are on preprinted forms; most include indexes. The Family History Library has copies of almost all birth, marriage, and death registers for the following religions: Catholic (the majority religion), Evangelical Lutheran, Reformed, Jewish, Greek Catholic, and Orthodox. Filming of the records was done from 1991-2009. The images in this collection are from those films.
An interesting fact about Torun: Nicolaus Copernicus, who was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe was born in the city of Torun (Thorn) in 1473.
Although any person, regardless of class or wealth, may have left a will or might be mentioned in one, wills were made primarily by the middle and upper classes, mostly by males with property. Before 1882, a wife who died before her husband could not make a will except with her husband’s consent or under a marriage settlement created before her marriage. A widow, however, could make a will.
Before 1750, heirs often did not prove wills to avoid court costs. The will was often kept in case someone later objected to the distribution of the property. As a result, sometimes wills were probated decades after the testator’s death. Some archives have collections of unproved wills. Others may be among family papers.
Until 1833 real property could be entailed. This specified how property would be inherited in the future. An entail prevented subsequent inheritors from bequeathing the property to anyone except the heirs specified in the entail.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth holds the original wills proved in Welsh ecclesiastical courts and has published images online.
Probate records are used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. The probate process transfers the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title. The transfer is to an executor or executrix if the deceased had made a will, to an administrator or administratrix if the deceased had not made a will, or to a guardian or conservator if the deceased had heirs under the age of twenty-one or if heirs were incompetent due to disease or disability.
General Research Tips
- Use a listed age to approximate a birthdate, if that is unknown.
- If possible, compare bishops’ transcripts to the original parish registers. The transcripts were intended to be direct copies of the registers, but they often include more or different information than the registers.
- If listed, an occupation can suggest other records to look at, such as employment or military records.
- Indexes may contain human transcription errors such as altered spellings or misinterpretations. If the document was scanned, there also may be optical character recognition errors.
- The handwriting style shown in a signature may be used to differentiate and identify individuals.
- If searching by place, be aware that some listings may have reversed the parish and town in the place hierarchy.
- Use the marriage number to identify previous marriages.
- Of the three primary types of vital record—birth/baptism, marriage, death/burial—marriage records tend to provide the most information. It is generally a good idea to find this record as early as possible in the research process, as the information it provides can be used to locate many other types of record.
- Use the place of residence to locate census, land, and tax records for the family.
- Use the parents' birthplaces to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Use the birth record as a source for an individual’s parents. Birth records are most easily found with an estimated (or exact) date and place of birth.
- Individuals were often born in the same locations in which their parents were married.
- Birth records may sometimes list all the children born to a mother up to the date of the record. Use this information to find an individual’s older siblings.
- It was common practice in families to give their child the Christian name of a deceased older sibling. Pay careful attention to multiple mentions of the same name and event dates associated with that name.
- Banns list a parish of residence for both the bride and the groom. You can search for these individual’s baptismal or birth records in these areas.
- Couples generally married at or near the place where at least one of them was born.
- Witnesses and godparents were often relatives of the family.
- Use death dates to search for other records such as obituaries, grave markers, sexton's records, or civil death records.
- Sometimes the groom’s occupation is listed, which could help you find more records about him.
- The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
- The occupation of a deceased male might be given (especially after 1812) and can help identify your ancestor when there is more than one person by that name in the area. Knowing the occupation might also provide you the opportunity to find other records about your ancestor.
- For death records, the information in records is usually reliable, but depends upon the knowledge of the informant.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate probate and tax records.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
- Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
- Search the indexes and records of local genealogical societies.
- Some deaths were registered as "unknown."
- A child born before the parents’ marriage may be registered under the mother’s maiden name.
- Some children were registered as "male" or "female" if a name had not been selected before registration.
It is worth mentioning that a family sometimes might use to use the same Christian name over and over again until a child survived with it. This means that individuals need to try and capture all of the family members listed watching for deaths and that same name being given to the next child of the same sex.
Couples usually married in the bride’s parish. Typically, the English married in their 20s.
Burial registers may mention infant children who were not christened, including stillbirths. Christening records never record stillbirths.
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