"Alower of Society debts" - one of my ancestors held this role in Colonial America. I can find a reference to the role of "tithingman" - but not this... seems self-explanatory, but I thought I'd check.

  • 2
    FYI for future reference, it is most helpful if you edit clarification into the question for other readers. In this case it appears unnecessary thanks to Pieter's excellent answer, though.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 5, 2020 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Presumably you are referring to an extract from the Essex Historical Records on Richard French, born 1675:

  1. Richard French, born in Topsfield, Aug. 18, 1676, called husbandman and yeoman in deeds, removed to Enfield, Connecticut, as early as 1699. He held no office in Topsfield, but his name occurs frequently on the Enfield records. He was chosen fence viewer, three times, surveyor of highways, three times, allower of town debts, twice, tythingman, four times, assessor, once, constable, once, and served on different committees a number of times. March 21, 1739, he was on a « Com tee to Dignify ye Seats in y e meeting house according to the rules fol- lowing : i. e. they shall adjust age usefullness Quallifica- tion and offices with the Last three years Lists " (History of Enfield, vol. 1, p. 388), He was also an u Alower of Society debts, May 12, 1632 " (Church Records, vol. 2). He was called Corporal, Dec. 15, 1730, and " Sargeant," March 10, 1734/5.

Given the other typos and the occurrence of both "allower" and "alower", plus the Middle English usage of "alower" as a synonym for the modern "allower*" (see below), let's take the meaning as being that of "allower".

n. 1. An approver or abettor.
2. One who allows or permits.

The position seems somewhat similar to a modern credit agency, as determining if a debt would be allowed.

it's also possible, in light of the Middle English definition below, that it refers to a type of factor, who would co-sign the debt for an additional fee.


From the Concise Dictionary of Middle English A-F:

Alowen, v. to assign, bestow, to give an allowance to, NED, Palsg.; allow, Sh.—AF. alower, OF. alouer, aloer; Lat. allocare, to place. (A- 7.)

With thanks to LegionMammal978 for digging up the original source for the OCR above.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Wow. Finding the actual ancestor in question seems to have gone far above the call of duty here. Well done.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 6, 2020 at 16:23
  • 1
    @shoover - It works in posts, but not in comments.
    – Bobson
    Aug 7, 2020 at 19:35
  • 2
    Than you Pieter. Just what I was looking for. I have chosen to keep the original language and phonetic spellings in my family history book - reading it aloud helps makes sense of how they spelled various words, though I think some readers will just skip over some of the text. Aug 8, 2020 at 18:46
  • 2
    @PieterGeerkens I apologize if I was being dumb with regards to sourcing. As shoover mentioned, the OCR was automatically generated from the corresponding page image (which could be considered to be the "primary source"), so I corrected the punctuation/formatting to match the image to make it more readable; I did not pull the changes out of thin air. Aug 11, 2020 at 5:03
  • 1
    @LegionMammal978: Thank you for that. Having the original printed source is ideal, and the only basis for making unannotated corrections to the OCR. Aug 11, 2020 at 6:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.