Making  French  Genealogy  Easier

Examining Godparents in Baptismal Records

In this tutorial, we are going examine the newly christened infant’s names of godparents & extract any genealogical information that can be found in French parish baptismal records

First, why are godparents so important in French genealogy? In a baptismal record, you’ll find names of other family members. 1) Most of the time they will provide their relationship with the infant, especially if there are multiple family members with the same first name.. Secondly, you could find the names of the godparent’s parents. Thirdly, a place of residence or place of birth, and finally, a profession might be included. Every scrap of important extractable information you obtain, helps solve questions of family members and history ( you already knew that).

I used to just locate godparent’s names, tap them out into my family tree and that was that. No further thought. Then I came across a baptismal document that just shouted at me, filled with godparents genealogical info. An example.. la marraine Jeanne Dubois, daughter of Jean Dubois, son of Charles Dubois. Incredible, is it not? Voila, you have a family tree.

In this sample baptismal document we will focus only on Louis Debray’s godparents names and any other extractable info following.

  • godfather (le parrain): Louis Debray
  • occupation : a laborer, (laboureur)
  • relationship to infant: uncle (oncle)
  • ??? of Brittany (fr. Bretagne) requires further study
  • godmother (la marraine) Marie Louise Berrier
  • relationship: first cousin (cousine ? germain)
    • Marie’s father’s name: Pierre Berrier
      • Pierre’s occupation: journalier
  • all (everyone) of this parish (tous de cette paroisse)

the role of naming babies after godparents in French Catholic tradition

If there’s no extra information on the godparents besides their name, this chart will you help identifying family members in the baptismal document.

Traditionally, the christened name of a male child most likely will be:

  • First male child – given the first name of the paternal grandfather
  • Second male child – given the first name of the maternal grandfather
  • Third male child – given the first name of father’s eldest brother

Traditionally, the christened name of a female child most likely will be:

  • First female child – given the first name of the maternal grandmother
  • Second, Third, female child – given the first name of mother’s sisters, aunts or paternal close female members

The Godparent traditionally would be 16 or older. But occasionally, a Godparent could be as young as 11.

You cannot copy the content of this page

Protected by Security by CleanTalk