Thursday, January 2, 2014

German Church Record Basics - Part 2 - Latin Records

This is Part 2 of German Church Record Basics - Latin Records. The church record books in Germany prior to about 1800 were typically written in Latin. After about 1800, they were written in German. The part covering the church book records in the German language can be found here: .

Here are a few sample German Church records in Latin:
Latin Birth/Baptismal (Natus/Baptizatus) Record
Latin Marriage (Matrimonius) Record
Latin Death (Mortus) Record

Latin Birth/Baptism (Natus/Baptizatus) Record - The key words you're looking for are:

filius - son of

filia - daughter of

conjugum - married
natus - born

eodum - same day
ejusdem mensus - same month

et anni - and year

civis - lives in

patrinus - godfather

matrina - godmother

uxor(is) -wife
After the father's or godfather's name, the record may list their occupation

Latin Marriage (Matrimonius) Record - The key words you're looking for are:

eodum - same day as the previous entry

ejusdem - same month as the previous entry
Honestus/Honesti - Honest
(used as a title)

nullo detecto impedimento - see no impediment to their marriage

Adolescentes - young person, likely a teenager
Solutus - single (unmarried) man
Soluta - single (unmarried) woman

filius - son of

filia - daughter of

legitimus - legitimate son of
legitima- legitimate daughter of

vidua - widow (woman)

viduus - widower (man)
defuncti/defuncta - deceased, followed by
the name of the deceased spouse or parent
relictus/relicta - male and female versions
of the word meaning they are the living child
or spouse of the specified deceased person
ex - from - then lists
the town they are from
civis - lives in the specified town
testes - witnesses

Latin Death (Mortus) Record - The key words you're looking for are:

Mortuus - death/died

extreme unction - last rites/anointing of the sick

filius - son of

filia - daughter of
adolesens - adolescent - teenager
natus - born

conjugum - married

uxoris - wife of

relicta - survivor of the deceased
spouse or parent that is named
vidua - widow (woman)

defunta - deceased
ejusdem mensus - same month

et anni - and year

annorum - years (old)

civis - lives (or lived) in

infans - infant

sepultus - burial
testibus - witnesses

cemeterio - cemetery

Finally, one you won't run into too often but I found it interesting
when I came across it while writing this blog post.

Vagabunda et pauper - vagabond and pauper


  1. To: Matthew Miller: Your examples of latin key words are great. Have you ever seen death records with Comm. S:M:E: animam following the date of the death? Thank you for any insight. Pat B.

  2. Patricia,

    Thank you for your comment and question! I haven't run across that phrase myself but doing a bit of searching, I believe it is an abbreviation for a prayer. Comm. is likely commorantes, which means living and animam means soul. This gives us living s.m.e. soul. I can't figure out what the s.m.e. stands for so far. The closest I can find is an abbreviation meaning they died without a male heir, but to me, that doesn't make sense in the middle of a prayer about a living soul. If you find the answer, please post an update and if I find it, I'll be sure to post another reply.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. Hi Matt,

    Great post! I have been trying for months to translate a particular latin word in a marriage register from Uberlingen, Germany from 1801. I cannot make out the first word in the husband's information. It isn't juvenis or viduus or solutus, as are most in the register. Any ideas? It appears to be drus or duus (it's on three or four letters long), perhaps... an occupation, though I don't see any others on the page.

  4. Email me the image at one of the email addresses found on this page: and I'll take a look.

  5. This is very helpful. Many that I’ve seen have married legitimate daughter and then a word that looks like lenante or levante. What is that?

    1. I wish I could tell you for certain what that word would mean. I can't find anything for lenante. I find that the Latin word "levante" means "east".

    2. I think it’s a word for sponsor. Most of the time I’ve seen Martina for godmother or patrons for godfather. When those words are not present I’ve seen levant which is very close to the Latin word levatus meaning to lift up, raise up, hold up, support, comfort. Godparents hold the baby up to receive holy water during baptism. Just my guess in the context of the record.

  6. That’s matrina and patrina-autocorrect strikes again.

  7. I have been researching the surname Vogelsang in German church records and have only found a few but find a lot for Singvogel. Since they mean the same thing, birdsong, can they possibly be the same family?

    1. I can't say that I've found that big of a variation in a surname before. Typically name variations are limited to spelling differences for the same or similar pronunciations. However, I would imagine that if someone moved from one town/area to another, residents in the new area could possibly start calling them by a variation this different from their original surname. For example, my great-great-grandmother's correct maiden name when she was born in Germany was certainly Ziegelmuller. However, I found a record in New York City clearly listing her as Ziegelmilch. This is a pretty big difference in surname, but you could still argue it is a variation based on a similar pronunciation. In short, I'd say it's possible they could be the same family, but there would need to be clear evidence showing people going by both names.