In the past genealogy was practised mainly by the nobility in order to protect their position. At present genealogy is pursued for other reasons, such as its application to historical, demographic, hereditary-legal, social and medical-genetic purposes. In the modern view genealogy is a science, which describes the relationship between people, based on their biological and legal descent. Genealogists find out who is descended from whom.
Terms used in genealogy are among others: pedigree, genealogy, descendant table, ancestor table and lineage. Generations are labelled with roman numerals.
Other terms which occur in genealogical research and in the literature are explained in our information booklet.
A Pedigree is a pictorial presentation of family data.
E.g. in the form of a tree or with symbols as used in genetics.
A Genealogy is a presentation showing all persons of one and the same family, starting with the oldest known ancestor in the male line (generation I).
These persons may have different family names with variants.
The view that the birth of an illegitimate child (a child not born from a legal marriage) results in the start of a new family does not hold in all countries and must therefore be considered out of date.
The branches of a family are labelled A, B, C, etc., the sub-branches as AA, AB, AC, etc. (from branch A), BA, BB (from branch B), CA, CB (from branch C), etc.
Persons with compound family names are listed in the genealogy of the original name without later additions. Thus Boonstra van Heerdt is listed as Boonstra, van Heerdt tot Eversberg as Van Heerdt, Hooft van Iddekinge as Van Iddekinge, van Breugel Douglas and Clifford Kocq van Breugel as Van Breugel, Oetgens van Waveren Pancras Clifford as Clifford.
The Descendant Table is a presentation showing an ancestral couple or male or female ancestor (generation I) with all their children (generation II) and all their subsequent descendants in male and female line.
A descendant table therefore contains many family names. The labeling is the same as in a genealogy.
The Ancestor Table is a presentation showing the persons with whom the table starts, called probands, with all their direct ancestors in the male and female lines.
An ancestor table shows data of the probands (generation I; N° 1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 etc.), their two parents (generation II; N° 2 and 3), their four grandparents (generation III, N° 4 to 7), their eight great-grandparents (generation IV; N° 8 to 15), sixteen great-great-grandparents (generation V; N° 16 to 31), etc.
The Kekule ancestor numbering system is obvious: fathers have always twice the number of their child, mothers twice the number plus one.
A Lineage is one particular line from an ancestor table.
The patrilineal lineage starts with the father of the father of the father etc.
In the narrower traditional sense (= legal descent) it is called the lineage of a family.
The matrilineal lineage starts with the mother of the mother of the mother etc.
The name lineage continues with the family name (e.g. where the father is unknown or in case of adoption) or it continues with the name of a farm (e.g. where the husband of the heiress of a farm adopts the name of the farm).
Generation I is the oldest ancestor in the lineage shown.
Taking the probands as generation I, it is called a Line of Descent from a certain family or person.