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Death Record, Part 1

Click on any part of the record above for a description and to go to that explanation.  Or you can scroll down the page on your own.

Date of Death House Number Name of deceased Religion Sex Age at time of death Cause of death Priest who performed burial service


The parish priest kept a record of all deaths occurring in the parish. Before 1784 the records for all the villages in the parish were kept together. However, after 1784, records for each particular village were kept separately. They may have been bound in the same book, but a separate listing for each village was organized alphabetically by village, year by year.

 When searching for ancestors, never concentrate solely on one village, or even one parish for that matter. Although itís commonly thought that people never moved great distances outside their birth village, you will find people often marrying into families in neighboring villages and/or parishes.


Explanation of each column

1. Numerus Serialis or Nr. posit./ Nrus positionis (Serial Number or Position Number)

The priest numbered each record of death and burial sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.).  Each year the priest started over with number one. This was done to show that no oneís name could have been added or removed at a later date.  In this example, this was the first death in the village that year.

This simple information can be used by the genealogist to help cite information for your own family history. This extra citation will ensure your proper record keeping. Of course, it is not essential. However, if you would like this extra "protection", especially if the death record contains names in a foreign language, in particular a foreign alphabet, you may do this. Furthermore, by tracking the sequential numbering of the births, one can determine any missing pages or pages out of order (which sometimes happens when researching microfilmed copies that may have been microfilmed out of order).

On some forms, this information is not found as is the case in the example at the top of the page.


2.  Dies et Mensis Mortis et Sepulturae (Day and Month of Death and Burial)
Dies et Mensis Mortuus et Sepultus

You should note both of these dates and not just the death. Many genealogists concern themselves only with the actual death date. However, one should keep both. Sometimes you may find ripped pages or pages not properly microfilmed where youíll only find one of the dates. Make sure that you mark it correctly as either the birth or the baptism, depending on which one of the two is present.  In this example above, the death took place January 15, 1906 and the burial took place January 17, 1906.

Be careful when noting the month and year. Often the month and year is not written for each and every personís listing, only the date. Carefully backtrack to the last month and year listed. Do so carefully so as to not skip a month or year and mark the wrong one down. Be careful of this especially when researching at an archive where photocopying is not available. Unlike using microfilm at a local Family History Center, you may not easily have a chance to return to the originals to verify your note-taking.

The months will usually be in Latin. This should not be a problem if the month is written out as the Latin resembles the English. In older Greek Catholic records, you may find the month in Church Slavic. Again, this will be easy IF you can read the Cyrillic alphabet since the Church Slavic terms also resemble the English.   For a list of months in different languages, visit my page on months.


Note the confusion over the written number of the month, in the case of 7-bris, 8-bris, 9-bris, and 10-bris (or 7ber, 8ber, 9ber, 10ber). These are NOT the numbers correlated to the way we count months today! They are based on the old calendar where the first month of the year wasnít January, but March. This makes sense if you look at the Latin meaning behind these four months. Study the roots of these months:

                        "Sept" stands for Seven (7) in Latin.

                        7-bris is September, not July



                    "Octo" stands for Eight (8) in Latin. Think of the word "octagon"

                    "Novem" stands for Nine (9) in Latin.

                    "Decem" stands for Ten (10) in Latin. Think "decade" or "decagram"

                    8-bris  is October, not August

                    9-bris is November, not September

                    10-bris is December, not October


Poland adopted the Gregorian Calendar (the one we use today) in 1582. The Greek Catholic church records were kept in the Gregorian Calendar. This is different than record keeping in neighboring Russian Empire, which kept the Julian Calendar until 1918. Depending on the year, there is about a two week difference between the two calendars.

After the tsarís government ended, the newly formed USSR adopted the Gregorian Calendar. So, the day after January 31, 1918 was February 13, 1918. (In the mid 1800ís, the difference was usually 12 days.) As a side note,  some branches of the Orthodox church today still officially use the Julian Calendar. As you can see, this makes for easier research in Halychyna/Eastern Galicia than it does for our genealogical colleagues researching ancestors in the Russian Empire.


3. Numerus Domus (House Number)

Click here to see a detailed description, important usage, and often misunderstood column House Number.


4. Nomen Mortui (Name of Deceased)

This is the name of the deceased person.

A married person may include the name of his/her spouse. Look for the Latin term "uxor" which means spouse.

Catharina Dumanska leg. uxor Pauli Dumanski
Katarzyna Dumanska legit
imate wife of Paweł Dumanski (in Polish)
Kateryna Dumans'ka legitimate wife of Pavlo Dumans'kyi (in Ukrainian)

These Latin terms would then require the genitive case of the following name, so you must be careful about noting the correct name. See my section on language and names for more detail.


A womanís name may often carry her maiden name if she is married. Look for the Latin terms:

Anna de Majewska de "of"
Anna de domo Majewska or Majewskich de domo "of the house of"
Anna ex Majewski ex "from"
Anna nata Majewska nata "born (with the maiden name)"


In this example, it reads Angella Olejnik, born Brzezicka <maiden name>, wife of the left-behind Ignacy (Ihnat in Ukr.) the farmer.


If you donít see this information for a woman, you can not assume that the surname listed is her maiden name. More than likely it is the surname of her husband. Youíll have to search for a marriage record to determine the wifeís maiden name.


With a childís name is often included the name of the parents.   This example reads: "Maria Makarowska, legitimate daughter of Stefan and Anna Gieża, farmers."

Look for the Latin terms:
filius "son of..."
filia "daughter of..."
sometimes abbreviated for both "fil."

filius leg. legitimate son
filia leg. legitimate daughter
fil. leg. abbreviation for both

These Latin terms would then require the genitive case of the following name, so you must be careful about noting the correct name.  See my section on language and names for more detail.


Regarding geographic locations, the priest may have included information on the deceasedís birthplace and/or residence at time of death. Some other Latin terms to watch out for are:

habit. in + place name    residing in...   (habitat =he/she resides.  habitans = resident)
de + place name            from...
nat. in + place name      born in...        natus = (he was) born;  nata = (she was) born
oriundus (man) / oriunda (woman)       originating from


Other Latin terms that may be found in this column:
post delictus (for a man) / post delicta (for a woman) or abbreviated p.d.:    deceased
derelicto marito:        left-behind husband  (maritus = husband)
vidua post mortum:   widow of the previously deceased <husbandís name>
defuntus, defuncti:    deceased, of the deceased (for men)
defunta, defunctae:   deceased, of the deceased (for women)
coelebs:                   unmarried


Latin Ukrainian first names Polish first names
Helena, derelicto mariti Tadeusza Olena, wife of the left-behind Fadei Helena, wife of the left-behind Tadeusz
Marcin derelicta uxore Jozefy Martyn, husband of the left-behind Iosypa Marcin, husband of the left-behind Jozefa
Katarzyna derelicto marito Jana Kateryna, wife of the left-behind Ivan Katarzyna, wife of the left-behind Jan


Pay particular attention to the names of the spouses. Remarriage was very popular in the event of a spouseís death. Reasons based on financial, social and religious well being vary for the individual. The surname listed for the woman may be her maiden name, the surname of her first husband, or the surname of her current husband.  In turn, you must be careful of these names in the future. A woman may be referred to in future records of her childrenís and grandchildrenís births, marriages, and death records with her own maiden name, the first husbandís surname or current surname. A thorough study of all of the womanís ancestors, even of the entire village, is necessary in order to track this properly. Of course, as always, you must be aware of the possibility of priest error, or copy error when looking at the Bishopís Copies.

You may also find information pertaining to the deceasedís occupation.

Continue to Death Record, Part 2            Questions and Comments to Matthew Bielawa
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