Reference Centre, Genealogy 101

Answers to Genealogy FAQs - 'Junior' or 'younger'

The terms "senior" and "junior" were largely used to distinguish two individuals from the same immediate family, e.g. father and son, or, mother and daughter, respectively. Yes, I have seen the distinction used to differentiate two women in the same household who bore the same Christian name.

There is, however, an additional qualification that I have encountered in many records - the distinction between "the elder" and "the younger". In the majority of cases, this distinction has been used to differentiate between two people of the same parish bearing the same name but who were not father and son, e.g. uncle and nephew, or, two cousins one of whom was older or younger than the other. Again, I have seen this distinction also used to differentiate between women of the same name.

I have also seen both types of references used in the alternately occurring case. That is to say, I have encountered "the elder" with "the younger" representing provable father and son. Likewise, I have encountered "senior" with "junior" representing the family of an uncle and the family of that uncle's nephew. And, I have encountered the terms "the elder" and "the younger" used to distinguish between two sons of the same name in the same immediate family. The proof of this latter claim is contained in a Will (Archdeaconry Court of Canterbury, proved 12 Dec 1559) of a Carter family from mid-east Kent. The Testator of that Will, George Carter of Winchcombe, Crundale, Kent, England, having married twice, had two sons each named John, but borne by different wives. Mr. Carter used the term "the elder" to refer to his son by his first wife and "the younger" to refer to his son by the second wife. Both sons were living at the time the Will was drawn and were both still living at the time of their father's death and subsequent proving of their father's Will.

"And for lack of heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, I will the said mansion house and all other the premises to him willed to JOHN CARTER, the elder, my son, and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten. And for lack of heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, I will the said mansion house and all other the premises to RICHARD CARTER, my son, and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, and for lack of heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, I will the said mansion house and all other the premises to JOHN CARTER, the younger, my son, to be had to him, his heirs and assigns forever. And I will to the said GEORGE CARTER, my son, one piece of land called Hoodys with the appurtenances lying and being in the parish of Brabourne to be had to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

"Item, will to JOHN CARTER, the elder, my son, my tenements and lands with the appurtenances set, lying and being in the parish of Chilham to be had to him, his heirs and assigns forever. And also I will to the said JOHN 18 acres of marsh land lying and being together in Wallamb Marsh in the parishes of Wye Church and Saint Martens to be had to the said JOHN and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten and for lack of heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, I will the said 18 acres of marsh land to GEORGE CARTER, my son, to be had to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

"Item, I will to JOHN CARTER, the younger, my son, my tenements and three pieces of land with the appurtenances set, lying and being in and by Denwood Street in the foresaid parish of Crundale to be had to him, his heirs and assigns forever."

So, it would seem that nothing had been "carved" in stone regarding the distinction between "the elder" and "the younger" that would assist one in determining the relationship of the so named parties, except a fuller research of the individuals and their relationship to one another.

Return to Frequently Asked Questions about Research

Print Page