Tutorial 6: Examining French Death and Burial Records

In this Tutorial, you will again search for the pattern, phrases and the information presented, study, and write down what you see. reinforced what you’ve been learning on the dates, relationships, found in death/burial records, then determine where and what the important data is, and translate it on paper. Download my list of words commonly used in death records If you don’t have Microsoft Word, download this great fully functional free office program

Death records can be rather disappointing. Earlier ones, could contain just the name of the name of the deceased, age, and date. Sometimes, it will record the name of either a living or dead spouse. If the deceased person is a child, the names of the parents will be recorded..But sometimes it’s not.. Writing will be smaller and cramped, and more difficult to read. In later records more information would be added, and more in sync with the rest of the departments, provinces and country. In Quebec, death records for later years (1900s) would still be slim, while a death record from Belgium for the same years, could be loaded. You could find information not normally on other records, such as whether the deceased had been more than once..

Note about handwriting: The handwriting chart contains most but not all handwriting forms of letters. Even then, you might not be able to make out the letters. In that case, make your best guess 🙂

Now, let’s take a look at a death record from several different countries at different times, examine it, look for clue words, phrases and extractable information. The words and phrases underlined are the important information; unless specified, what’s in paranthesis are not necessary for your research. It possibly will help you understand a little more of what’s going on. They’re words often used in records, so you can consult the flash list later on for further study. Remember though, the main purpose here is finding the important information to enter into your family data chart or genealogy program.

Let’s Begin

This is a burial record from Saint-Lin in Québec. It is a very interesting but sad record of an unnamed and illegitimate baby . After perusing this document, can you guess what sex this person is? Look for the masculine and feminine indicators in key words.

As again, the date comes at the beginning of the document.

Le dix-sept avril mil huit cent quarante six
The 17(th) April 1846

inhumĂ© – burial

le corps d’un enfant nĂ© et dĂ©cède avant hier ondoyĂ© …illĂ©gitime

Phrases in paranthesis:

Nous prêtre soussigné avons inhumé

We the undersigned priest(s) have buried

de cette pariosse….

of this parish (in this case St-Lin)

à la maison et ce inprésence de Jean Baptiste Guidon et Alexandre Beaudouin

at the home and hereto the presence of Jean Baptiste Guidon and Alexandre Beaudouin

The corps/dead body of one/a baby born (male) and died the day before yesterday, baptized by 1) someone other than the priest, usually a midwife or witness or 2) shortly after death (perhaps by Jean Baptiste Guidon and Alexandre Beaudouin)

Extractable data:

Type of record: Burial

Date of Burial: 17 April 1846
Date of Death: 15 April 1846
Place of Burial: St-Lin, Québec
Name of person: unnamed illegitimate male child with unknown parents
opt: baptized after death and/or by witnesses..in this case Jean Baptiste Guidon and Alexandre Beaudouin

Now a Civil Record from Pont-Audemer, Eure, France

The pattern here is : The date or record, legal yadda, place of recording, official and witnesses with their titles, ages and occupation, more yadda. Name of deceased, occupation, residence, place of birth, date of birth, birthdate, parents’ names, name of spouse, and the day of death (in this case, the day before ), and more yadda

Important information:

Le jeudi vingt cinq août mil huit cent soixante dix

Thursday 25 August, 1870

déclaré que Marie Françoise Duclos, journalier, domicile à Cormeilles, née à Résenlieu, Orne le trente juillet mil sept quatre-vingt-dix fille de fues Jacque Duclos et de Marie Genevieve Du Coudray vieuve de Charles Avenel, est décédée (hier)

declare/states that Marie Françoise Duclos, day worker, resides at Cormeilles, born in Résenlieu, Orne, the 30 July 1790, daughter of both deceased Jacques Duclos, and Marie Genevieve Du Coudray, widow of Charles Avenel is deceased ..yesterday

Paranthesis are around some interesting tidbits and legal yadda that doesn’t matter. That is all for further study down the road. You can always come back to..Just concentrate on the main words and phrases..

Extractable Information:

Type of Record: (civil death, or church burial)
Place of death: Pont-Audemer, Eure, France

Date of Record: Thursday, August 28 1870

Date of Death: August 27, 1870

Name of Deceased : Marie Françoise Duclos

Occupation: Day worker
Date of birth: July 30 1790

Place of birth: RĂ©senlieu, Orne France
Place of residence: Cormeilles (Eure, France)
Age: None give, calculate between date of death and birth: 80 years old

Parent’s names: Jacques Duclos and Marie Genevieve Du Coudray, both deceased

Spouse’s Name: Charles Avenel- deceased

interesting fact: She died in a hospital

A Record during the French Republican Calender

Use the French Republican Calender Convertor

I am using a record from Saint-Denis-les-Ponts, in the department of Eure-et-Loire, France

You will be converting the date of this record to the Gregorian.
Remember, only look at the underline words for the information, you can go over the rest at a later date. You will find letters that resemble other letters. The key is to look for other words with the same letter for comparison.

aujourd’hui dix-huit nivose l’an deux de la republique française

(use convertor)Today 18 Nivose the year two of the French Republic

de cette commune

of this town

Laurant Camu, journalier..déclaré que maris magdeleine loche sa femme est morte ……
Laurant Camu, day worker, declares/states that Maris Magdeleine Loche his wife is dead

âge de trente une fille d’alexandre loche et sa mère maris pignard

age of 31, daughter of Alexandre Loche and her mother Maris Pignard

This is the only important information you need from this document. The rest you can shelve for further study

Extractable information:

Type of Record: Civil Record of death
Place of death: Saint-Denis-les-Ponts, department of Eure-Loire, France (not mentioned in record)

Date of Record: January 7, 1794

Date of Death: August 27, 1870

Name of Deceased : Marie Françoise Duclos

Occupation: Day worker

Date of birth: July 30 1790

Place of birth: RĂ©senlieu, Orne France

Place of residence: Cormelles

Take a look at this document from Marche-en-Famenne, Luxembourg, Belgium. The handwriting is very clear, readable and in a fill in the template format. Let’s see if you can use what you’ve learned so far. So have your pencil and notebook ready. The only important information is underlined AND inside the brackets. You can actually write out the whole thing. It’s that clear.

The pattern here is:
first the date of record, the official, town, canton, province, the informants, information about them, follow by name of deceased and information about him, people related to him, and date of death (i.e décéde hier). The last paragraph is negligible. Use your notebook.

Find, write, translate and Extract:

Type of Record: (Church burial or Civil Record of death)
Place of Death: (town, province, country)
Date of Record

Date of Death: (look for clue word)
Name of Deceased:



Place of birth:

Residence :

Names of Parents (and whether they’re dead or not):

Name of Spouses (and whether they are dead or not):

Words about deceased parents and/or spouses

How many different ways can one say the person is dead? You’d be surprised.

If a spouse or parents are deceased, usually the record will indicate it in either these ways: dĂ©cèse, ‘veuf(m), veuve(f) de “feu(m), feue(f)…(name of deceased person), mort (m) morte (f). de defunt (m), de defunte (f), des defunts (both parents are dead).

example: Philippe Morenier veuf de feue Marie Catherine Mahut = Philippe Morenier widower of deceased (or “the late”) Marie Catherine Mahut

de defunt is masuline, comes either before or after the father’s or male spouse’s name.

de defunte is female, comes before or after the name of the mother or female spouse listed

des defunts means both parents are dead, usually comes before the name of the first parent listed

Justine Morenier fille des defunts Leopold Morenier et Marie Catherine Mahut..(sometimes décès is added after the name)

Marie Catherine Mahut fille de defunts Henri Mahut et de Marie Catherine Berque

Before we move on to viewing the records, 1) download this list of handwriting samples, print out the chart for reference. Older French handwriting will look different from ours. Most of the time it’s smaller and crampier. Don’t panic! With all things, it takes study and practice. You can do it!

Answers: Type of Record: (Church burial or Civil Record of death)
Place of Death: Marche, canton of Le Nom , province of Luxembourg, Belgium

Date of Record: December 19, 1900

Date of Death: December 18, 1900
Name of Deceased: Alexis Joseph Doppagne

Age: 69 years

Occupation: day worker

Place of birth: Marche

Residence : Marche

Names of Parents : Joseph Doppagne and Marie Celestine Picard, both deceased

Name of Spouses: : widower of Marie Marguerite Thérèse Ducamp, husband of Barbe LeCarme (living)

How did you do?

Let’s move on to Tutorial #7 -Navigating the Departmental Archives of France tutorial