Contemporary Definition

Definitions matter. When interpreting a word in any genealogical document, particularly one where the word conveys a relationship, a property right, or some occupation or status, make certain that you know the contemporary meaning of that work. The definitions of words can change over time due to common usage and practice. What’s meant by a certain job title can change over time. The definitions of some legal words remain relatively constant, but occasionally then can vary as state statute or contemporary law changes.

Meaning isn’t always set in stone.