Making  French  Genealogy  Easier

Tutorial 2 – Recognize Key Phrases in French Records

In this tutorial, you will use the flash list, learn to locate and recognize patterns and read some basic words and phrases frequently used in baptismal records of French-speaking countries. The following will have excerpts from several baptismal records taken before 1793. The purpose here is to 1) recognize the type of record, and 2) locate and recognize phrases and words 3) extract only the vital information you need, not read the whole of the document, 4) and, finally, examining records, and pull out the relevant information..

Note about handwriting styles.

  • The French use maiden names instead of the married one for women.

Understanding Church Baptism records:

Before 1793, baptismal (baptême) records were the only offical documentation for a person appearing in the world. It had taken place at sometime, and it was recorded by representatives of the Catholic Church. A child could be baptised the same or following day, or several years after birth. The Protestant Churches also recorded their baptisms in much the same way.

Unless specified, I will be using examples from records of France

Finding the phrasing for family members in a baptismal/birth record is one of the more easier tasks to learn as it mostly requires the use of fils/fille. The extractable information usually contains: Date of baptism, sex and name of child, names of parents, names of witnesses, possibly their relationship to child, and hopefully places of residence or birth of parents

Examples here:
Jules Nicolle fils de Elie Pierre Nicolle et de Julie Joséphine Dubois
Jules Nicolle son of Elie Pierre Nicolle and of Julie Joséphine Dubois

Julie Joséphine Dubois fille de Hubert Dubois et de Julie Félicité Paris
Julie Joséphine Dubois, daughter of Hubert Dubois and Julie Félicité Paris

In viewing examples of early 1700s record:

Underlined words tells us what kind of record
Bolded words means extractable information

Example- limited information:

Aujourd’hui, lundy, quatorze jour de février, mil sept cent trente un
Today, Monday, 14 day of February, 1731

prêtre curé, baptisé une fille
Priest baptized a girl

neé (feminine indicator) du legitimate mariage de Robert Paris et de Estienne Morin
born of the legitimate marriage of Robert Paris and of Estienne Morin

age de trois jours, nomme de Anne.
Age of 3 days, name of Anne

Extracted Information

Type of Record: Baptism
Date of Record: Monday, Febuary 14 1731
Date of Birth: Febuary 11, 1731
Place of Baptism: (not mentioned in document)
Name, Sex, Age of Child: Anne, female, 3 days old
Names of Parents: Robert Paris and Estienne Morin (legitimate marriage)

Another Example with a little more Information:

Marie Anne, neé dujour l’hier du legitimate mariage de Hubert Mongnet et Marie Le Breton –
Marie Anne born yesterday of legitimate marriage of Hubert Mongnet and Marie Le Breton

aujourd’hui mercredi, seize 9bre mil sept cent soixante quinze baptise
Today, Wednesday 16 November 1775

baptisé par prêtre curé (name of priest)
baptised by parish priest

par Georges Mongnet et Marie Anne Mongnet, parrain et marraine
Baptism by Georges Mongnet and Marie Anne Mongnet, godfather and godmother

Extractable information:

Type of Record: Baptism
Date of Baptism: Nov 16 1775
Date of Birth: Nov 15, 1775
Name, Sex and Age of Child: Marie Anne Mongnet, female, 1 day
Names of Parents: Hubert Mongnet and Marie Le Breton,
Names of Godparents: Georges Mongnet and Marie Anne Mongnet

Another example – expanded information:

L’Ans Mil Sept Cent cinquante neuf, dix-huit d’avril,
The year 1759, 18 of April

_ prêtre curé de la paroisse de St Contest
Parish Priest of the parish of St Contest

baptisé un fils age de un jour
baptized a boy age of one day (this will be how you calculate the birthday from record date)

du et en legitimate mariage of Jean Vachon à Vire
born of and to legitimate marriage of Jean Vachon born in/at Vire, ,

et de Perrette Le Herchier née à Blangy
and of Perrette Le Herchier, born in/at Blangy

ses père et mere
his father and mother

nomme de Pierre
name of Pierre

par Pierre Le Herchier et Catherine Verger ses parrain et marraine,
by Pierre Le Herchier and Catherine Verger, his godfather and godmother

l’oncle et la tante de l’enfant
The uncle and the aunt of the baby

Extractable Information:

Type of record: Baptism
Place of Baptism: Saint Contest (Calvados, France)
Date of Record: April 18, 1759
Date of Birth: April 17, 1759

French Belgian, Luxembourgish, and French Canadian Records

Baptismal records from these counties follow the same patterns, give the same kind of varied information, but most of parishes from early 1600s-mid 1700s will be written in Latin. Because of the fluctuating control between the French and Germans, Unfortunately, some Luxembourg records will be in German.

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: décés, ‘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, comes before the name of the first parent listed

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

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

**Note Before we move on to viewing the records, 1) Check out my tutorial “Examining French Handwriting” . There are samples of letters and letter combinations that are difficult and frustrating to decipher. Not only because the letters are shaped differently in the old ‘French Handwriting” , the handwriting can be sloppy and scrunchy.

. Don’t panic! With all things, it takes study and practice. You can do it!

In the next tutorial, you will examine the difficult handwritten letters and all their letter variations,

Go To Tutorial 3 – Examining French Cursive Writing

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