Tutorial 6: Examine French Death & 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.

Words about deceased parents and/or spouses

ex: “Marie Catherine Mahut fille de defunts Henri Mahut et de Marie Catherine Berque”

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:

décédé, (m)

décédée (f)



de “feu(m),


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

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.

Saint-Lin, Quebec, Canada

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



le corps d’un enfant et décède avant hier ondoyé* …illégitime

The corps of a baby/infant born and died the day before yesterday baptized* …. illegitimate

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

* baptized by someone other than the priest, usually a midwife or witness or 2) shortly before or 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

declare that Marie Françoise Duclos, day worker, lives in Cormeilles, born in Resenlieu, 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)

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: Résenlieu, 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

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

You will be converting the French Revolutionary date of this this record to the Gregorian one.
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.

Saint-Denis-les-Ponts, Eure-et-Loir, France

aujourd’hui dix-huit nivose l’an deux de la republique française
(use convertor)Today 18 Nivose 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: Résenlieu, Orne France
Place of residence: Cormelles

Below is a 20th century 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.

Marche-en-Famenne, Luxumbourg, Belgium
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.

How did you do? Are you feeling more comfortable with understanding the documents? How much were you able to make out? Don’t beat yourself up if you struggled with it. These exercises are training yourself to look, recognize, find, translate and extract your genealogical information

Extractable Information:

Type of Record: Civil Record of death
Place of Death: Marche, 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)

Let’s move on to more challenging records with the Tutorial #6 – Baptism Records