I am looking at some names in the "Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Vol. 1".

Throughout the passenger lists there are primarily "(X)" and "(O)"s inserted into their names at various locations, but usually in the middle. There are other letters though like in the following example. I am curious as to what the convention or specific meaning of these are as I have some dought it is an indicator for a middle initial as "X" is not a common letter for middle names.

Sample #1

The passenger lists start on approximately page 57 and I have quickly skimmed through the proceeding 56 pages and not seen anything jumping out on the convention nor at the end of the volume 1.

Does anyone know what the specific convention of the letter in parenthesis means and what the complete list is?

  • 1
    My first thought is that X indicates that they made a mark rather than signing but that would not give any insight into the other abbreviations in brackets.
    – PolyGeo
    Dec 26, 2014 at 5:09
  • 1
    I share the same thought about the X as PolyGeo, especially as it doesn't look like an X in the same font as the rest of the book, but more like a cross.
    – user104
    Dec 26, 2014 at 18:59
  • I'm only going on a vague recollection but if it is likely/possible that some of these people signed using a seal perhaps that is the meaning of the O.
    – PolyGeo
    Dec 26, 2014 at 21:14

1 Answer 1


I appreciate the lead from PolyGeo which led me down the path I needed to go down and this is what I found.

PA Archives: There are three sets of passenger lists: The "A" lists are the Captains' Lists of passengers being imported; "B" lists are Oaths of Allegiance to the King; and "C" lists are Oaths of Abjuration from the Pope. An individual being transported may be found on one or all of the three lists. These lists have been published in Pennsylvania German Pioneers: A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808 by Ralph B. Strassburger and William J. Hinke (Norristown: Pennsylvania German Society, 1934; reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co. and Picton Press). Volume III contains indexes to the names of passengers, captains, and ships. Volume II has facsimilies of all signatures on the original lists. and Microfilm copies of the original lists are available (3 rolls). These rolls are arranged chronologically by the list number, with Lists A and B together and all of the C lists located in order on a separate roll.

PA Germans: Generally only the names of the adult male passengers (age 16 and above) were recorded. Some of the later lists also name the women and children......Vol. 2 has reproductions of the original lists, including most of the adult male passenger's signatures (or marks) from 1727-1775 (some passengers signed with an 'X' or other mark, but their names are still listed)

That said I do an image search for the book and found a few examples as I was not able to find a way to access the specific images myself at this time that I as looking for but this gives me the base information.

This blog posting gave an informative run-down of their search and a copy off the Microfilm.

The following two examples shows people did the following:

  • Signed their own name.
  • Signed with one of their initials, which you can seems difficult or out of the ordinary for some based on their mark.
  • Signed their 'intent' with an "X", "+", or "++" or somewhere in their name.
  • I also found Theta Ѳ or Fita θ or Disambiguation/Average Ø like symbols and it is not clear what the difference is; except my theory is that on the "B" and "C" pages perhaps they are making a statement of something like *"I am signing this because I am required or expected to...".

enter image description here

From the time period samples I came across images I did not find any "seals" or "stamps" next to their names as I assume they would just sign in that case.

enter image description here

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