Welcome to Tuesday Tips! You may be asking what are Tuesday Tips? Well, Tuesday Tips are little tips I will give every Tuesday. My main goal with Tuesday Tips is to educate young or not so young genealogists about the small details often hidden or overlooked in a record.
This week’s question is “What is the plus next to my relative’s name?”

“Poland, Tarnow Roman Catholic Diocese Church Books, 1612-1900,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X5S8-J6X : 11 March 2018), Edwardus Fijotek, 28 Jan 1900; citing Baptism, Wola Lubecka, Wola Lubecka, Kraków, Poland, volume years 1865 – 1941, page 124, Tarnow Diocesan Archives, Tarnow; FHL microfilm 1,956,071.

Preview(opens in a new tab)

First, this plus sign is called a crutch cross or cross potent. They have historically been used in medieval heraldry and other religious organizations like the Teutonic Order or the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

So what does the cross mean? The cross signifies that the baptized died. Sometimes there’s a date accompanying the cross but most of the time there isn’t a date, the date shown next to the cross is the death date.

Württemberg, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1500-1985 . Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com

Both Catholics and Protestants used this symbol in their baptismal records. Do baptismal or birth records in your country or religion use the crutch cross? Or do you have a completely separate symbol? I’d love to know! You can Tweet us at @thehiddenbranch.

National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 04992 / 03