Glossary of Women's Words
You may find women referred to in old documents using these terms.
Administratrix: a woman assigned by the court to administer an estate where there is no valid will
Bondmaid: a female slave or indentured servant

Concubine: a woman who lives with a man to whom she is not married

Consort: companion; term for when the woman predeceased her husband
Dowager: a widow with a title or rank (the queen dowager) or property from her husband

Dower: a legal provision for a woman's support and that of her children after her husband's death; typically one-third of the husband's property; also known as "widow's thirds"

Dowry: property the bride brings to her marriage

Executrix: the woman named in a will to distribute the estate
Goodwife: the wife or household mistress 
Goody: a woman or housewife, especially an older woman 
Grass widow: a woman whose husband had deserted her; also used to refer to a woman who has illegitimate children or to a discarded common-law wife
Now wife: in a will, refers to the current wife (implying there was a previous wife)
Relict: a widow
Spinster: an unmarried woman regarded as beyond the age of marriage
Testatrix: a woman who leaves a valid will

Find your ancestors' court records with help from these resources at
Share |
Did you enjoy this article?
Please share it!
Recent Blog Posts »
Recent Articles »

Free Genealogy Downloads

Deciphering Old Documents and Handwriting Premium Collection

Learn how to decode handwritten documents you once found unreadable, and magnify old cursive and print with your own Magnabrite.
Only available in Nov., this collection has a retail value of $126.92, but is yours this month only for $49.99!


©  F+W All rights reserved.