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Ian Hilder’s ex­cel­lent re­ply to Lyn James’s query ( Q& A, Au­gust edi­tion) about the im­pli­ca­tions of her an­ces­tor Thomas Cary be­ing de­scribed as ‘se­nior’ and ‘the el­der’ omits one im­por­tant point that might be of wider in­ter­est.

Hav­ing looked at hun­dreds of wills and par­ish reg­is­ter en­tries for a lo­cal his­tory project I con­cluded that the use of ‘se­nior’ and ‘ ju­nior’ im­plies a di­rect par­ent/child re­la­tion­ship, while ‘el­der’ and ‘younger’ is a more gen­eral way of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween two peo­ple with the same name liv­ing in the same com­mu­nity.

The ‘el­der’ may not nec­es­sar­ily be re­lated to the ‘younger’, although it is of­ten the case that there is a fam­ily con­nec­tion. Where there are more than two peo­ple with the same name, the names are usu­ally fur­ther qual­i­fied by a de­scrip­tion of their oc­cu­pa­tion or re­la­tion­ship.

In Lyn’s case there is un­doubt­edly an­other – younger – Thomas Cary in the par­ish, and the vicar’s use of the de­scrip­tion ‘se­nior’ is highly sugges­tive of him be­ing Thomas se­nior’s son although, as Ian points out, that would need to be con­firmed from other records. Philip Eley Ed­i­tor replies: Thank you Philip. It’s help­ful to be aware that these terms may not al­ways sug­gest peo­ple re­ferred to are re­lated.

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