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.