Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Townships of Pontiac, Gatineau Counties, plus the Township of Hull

Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers, the area around the Gatineau hills of Quebec, north and west of Ottawa, was the home of the Anishnabe Algonquin First Nations people. Between about 1800 and 1900, western Quebec was settled by British, American, Irish Protestant, Scottish, Irish Catholic, French Canadian and Germanic families. The Germanic settlers had a strong presence in this region. To my knowledge, there were few Loyalists or Huguenots.

Prior to 1845, people and goods were transported primarily by barge along the Ottawa River, which separates Quebec and Ontario. The steamboat that operated on the Ottawa River between Montreal and Ottawa could not manage the rapids between Carillon and Grenville, so in 1854, the Carillon and Grenville Railway, a short 12-mile-long portage railway, was organized.

Prior to 1845, when they purchased land, finalized business deals or wrote their wills, the settlers of western Quebec likely dealt with notaries from Montreal, and perhaps those in Vaudreuil and Rigaud. The section of this compilation that lists notaries begins in 1845, since the Judicial District of Hull was a late-comer among judicial districts across the province.

Today, this region is well served by two superb archives and four regional genealogical societies. Contact details for all these places can be found in the attached compilation.

BAnQ Gatineau – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

LAC – Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa

OGS – Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

SGO – Société de généalogie de l’Outaouais

Gatineau Valley Historical Society

Pontiac Archives (genealogy society, located in Shawville, QC)

See: Townships of Pontiac and Gatineau Counties plus the the township of Hull

The contents of this 23-page compilation are as follows:

Page 1  the settlers (including farmers, businessmen, militia officers, politicians)

Page 3  the counties in 1791

Page 4  the townships in chronological sequence

Page 11 regional cemeteries

Page 13 Outaouais region (a list of cities, towns, villages)

Page 14 description of notarial records

Page 15 the notaries

Page 22 area archives and genealogical resource centres

 

 

France, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal, United States

Research Help for French Louisiana Sources

There were strong ties between Quebec and Louisiana in the 18th century. Louisiana was then part of New France, having been established by the French to block the British from expanding their influence westward in North America.

Many settlers who went to the southern part of the United States originated from the same regions in France as the French Canadians and the Acadians. But few Quebec historians or genealogists have focused on the links between the families of New France and those who settled in Louisiana.

An example of someone with personal links to both places was Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, Marquis de Vaudreuil (1698-1778). His father was of noble descent, from the Languedoc region of France, and Pierre was born at Quebec, where his father served as governor-general of New France. Pierre served as governor of Louisiana from 1742 to 1753, and he was the last governor-general of New France, between 1755 and 1760.

Historian Mélanie Lamotte wrote an article about primary sources in North America and France for the early modern history of Louisiana when she was studying at the Cambridge University in the U.K. She currently teaches at Stanford University, and her  Stanford website describes this article, “A Guide to Early Modern French Louisiana Sources” as providing “much-needed guidance on identifying and using French Louisiana sources. It lists the sources available and investigates their nature, details of access, state of preservation, as well as their state of digitization. It also suggests potential uses and interpretations that might be gleaned from such source material.”

You can download Lamotte’s 26-page guide from either of these two sites:

http://stanford.academia.edu/M%C3%A9lanieLamotte

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/260104/Lamotte-2016-Collections_A_Journal_for_Museum_and_Archives_Professionals-VoR.pdf?sequence=1

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Researching the New France Archives

If your ancestors date back to Nouvelle France, as Quebec was known in its early days as a colony of France, you will be happy to hear about this wonderful New France research portal created by Library and Archives Canada. The New France Archives site can be found at http://nouvelle-france.org

The project brings together results from four archives in France and Canada: LAC – Library Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, A.N.O.N – Archives nationales d’outre-mer (France), Archives nationales (France) and BAnQ – Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It also accesses digitized documents in several other governmental and private archives centres.

Researchers with French Canadian, Acadian, Franco-American, Franco-Manitoban, Cajun, and Huguenot heritage will be able to use this one search engine, and voilà. The collection may not help with genealogy questions, but it will give access to a vast array of documents dating from New France.

First, spend some time on the home page learning how to search. Then explore the list of themes and LAC’s online exhibition, New France, New Horizons.

You can use the basic or advanced search and you can search in English or French, but a search in French brings much better results.

For example, I searched for the words “traiteurs+en+fourrures+France” (fur traders France, although the word traiteur now generally means caterer,) and found links to some 2000 documents stored in Canadian and French archives. A search for “commerçants en fourrures” or “commerçants de fourrures” also brought hundreds of results, but a search for “fur traders” only brought a handful. Try using Google translate before you put in your search term.

The results were in French, but a box appeared in the upper right hand corner, offering to translate into English. The page then looked like this:

new france archives results fur

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Using the BAnQ’s Pistard to Research Your Ancestor’s Life

Some family history researchers complain that Pistard, (pistard.banq.qc.ca), the online search tool for documents stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), is too complicated difficult to use because it is only in French. I beg to disagree.

The site offers its own online translation tool, users can buy their own French/English dictionaries or they can use online translation tools such as Google Translate. As for the complaint that Pistard is too complicated, I think that is a myth. Pistard by BAnQ is easy to navigate in both the normal search option and the advance search option.

Remember, Pistard is not an online database of marriages, baptisms and deaths. At the BAnQ, there is an online search engine addressing such events, and it is a good one. See http://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/ressources/bd/

Nor does Pistard address notarial acts including marriage contracts, land purchases and sales, after-death inventories or guardianship of minors after the death of both parents. BAnQ has a superb online search engine addressing notaries. See http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/ You can search each notary’s index of acts and, when there is an asterisk beside the notary’s name, the acts have been digitized. (Ancestry.ca also has a collection of Quebec notarial records. For hints on using it, see the blog Genealogy a la carte, Oct. 6, 2016, http://genealogyalacarte.ca/?p=16520)

Pistard does include archival resources including letters and other text documents, diagrams, land surveys, photographs, drawings and items on microfilm. It includes an online database addressing issues that were dealt with by judicial courts, judicial appointees by Governors or Lieutenant-Governors of New France or by Intendants of New France and appointees of the latter who acted on behalf of the King of France on subjects such as fraud, breach of contracts, unpaid debts, illegal transactions such as the sales of liquor to first nation people, or simply the removal of a fence.

Let me give a couple of examples using, with her permission, several ancestors of my friend and fellow genealogist Claire Lindell. Two of her pioneer ancestors were Claude Jodoin and Julien Fortin. I searched for each name in Pistard.

Jodoin was a neighbour of two farmers in the Seigneurie de La Chevrotière. When these two farmers argued about the location of a fence between two farms, the regional Justice of the Peace had to settle the issue.

Jodoin in Pistard EN
This is a screen shot of the search result for Claude Jodoin, translated by the BAnQ

The second case I have selected deals with the children of Julien Fortin and Suzanne Quenneville. It appears that, after the death of both parents, their daughter Marie was placed under the care of a Jean-Baptiste Lachaise and/or a Pierre Charbonneau. This one is not clear: only the actual document could clarify the reason the judicial system had to solve the issue.

Fortin Pistard
A search in Pistard for Julien Fortin brought up this result, and I then applied the BAnQ’s online translation tool. 

 

The online description of each document posted on Pistard is only a recap of the real document, which is stored in one of the 12 branches of the BAnQ across Quebec. In some cases, Pistard will link you to an image of the original document and a brief description of the case. If not, you can obtain the complete file through an email request.

For each query on Pistard, search results indicate the Cote (Shelf)  #, the Judicial District or Region and the Dossier (file) #. Then, through an email to the repository where the document is kept, you can obtain a download within a few days, for free.

A few months back, I had a telephone conversation with a clerk at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal. I asked her, if you receive an email in the English language, will you reply in English? She replied yes, adding that she was then working on a query from Australia. The person said his ancestor, who had been a Quebec Patriot during the Rebellions of 1837-1838, had been deported to Australia. The BAnQ clerk sent this researcher numerous documents about his ancestor at no charge.

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives

The attached 43-page PDF addresses the Archives communales de France, also known as the Archives municipales de France. This is the second most important group of archives in France for tracing the families of New France and Acadia. The 95 Archives départementales de France are the number one source of information addressing French Canadians, Acadians, Franco Americans, Franco Ontarians and others. (See also, Researching Your French Ancestors Online, posted May 13, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/)

There are some 400 municipal archives. I have selected the 124 largest, including archives that offer online access to some files, or at least an online description of the contents.

In 1792, the Assemblée législative de France (The Legislative Assembly of France) took away the responsibility for issuing birth, marriage and death registers from the curés (priests) and gave these duties to local mairies (city halls). At about the same time, a new civil register of France was created addressing acts of birth, marriage, divorce and death. This register was named the Registre de l’état-civil, and the documents were issued by the city halls.

Subsequently, when many cities and towns created their own archives communales (municipal archives), these local municipal archives were assigned responsibility to safeguard the civil registers.

After the creation of the 95 Archives départementales de France, a great number of the local archives communales (municipal archives) turned over their actes de l’état-civil, or copies of these records, to the regional archives départementales. Other municipal archives did not do so. As a result, some of the files found in municipal archives of France can also be found in the regional archives départementales, while other dossiers cannot be found anywhere else.

The majority of genealogy societies in France work closely with their local archives communales. Many of these genealogy societies share the same building or adjacent building to the archives communales of their region.

Here is the link to the PDF: Archives communales de France – 2018-09-04 Rev

Genealogy, Quebec, Research tips

Searching the BAnQ for books and documents

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), the Quebec provincial library and archives, is making some changes to its online search tool that will impact you if you are looking for some books about history.

Pistard pistard.banq.qc.ca will continue to be the primary search tool if you are searching for documents owned by BAnQ. For example, Pistard is the place to search for records of non-criminal offenses such as unpaid purchases of goods, as well as letters and various documents, maps, diagrams and photographs. You can also find documents that were issued by Judicial Districts of New France, Quebec under British Military Rule, Quebec under Lower Canada and Quebec under Confederation.

What the BAnQ has removed from the Pistard search tool is published books which are not owned by BAnQ. You must now look for such books through the Catalogue cap.banq.qc.ca

A search for the name Bagg through Pistard, for example, brings up a list of 24 documents, several of which are plans (diagrams) of property that belonged to a member of the Stanley Bagg family. You can view images of some documents returned by a Pistard search by clicking on the word Coll. on the far right-hand side of the list of results. You can also try researching this database directly from Google by searching, for example, the words Pistard and Bagg together.

One result from Pistard refers to the records of notary Stanley Clark Bagg, but it just describes the collection. To see the index of his notarial acts, you must search on http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/

A search for the name Bagg through the Catalogue brings up 123 results, only one of which is a book that refers to the family – an archaeological report on the house of Abner Bagg, built in 1821.

If you wish to borrow the excellent book by John Francis Bosher, Négociants et navires du commerce avec le Canada de 1660 à 1760, you would now (2018) conduct your online search through the BAnQ Catalogue.

If you want to borrow the English-language version of the same book by J.F. Bosher, Men and ships in the Canada Trade, 1660-1760A biographical dictionary by J.F. Bosher, the online search process is also done through the new BAnQ Catalogue.

The publisher of these two books, Canada Environment – Canadian Parks Services, has discontinued the sales of the English-language version of this superb book. According to the policy of BAnQ in regard to Canadian authors and Canadian publishers, once a book has been removed from the marketplace, BAnQ will digitize that book and the digitized version can be viewed at two of the 12 repositories of the BAnQ: the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal; and BAnQ Québec – Archives nationales du Québec at Université Laval in Quebec City.

You must reserve such digitized books by email. Only the person who has ordered a book by email can have access to these precious and discontinued books. I did so about a month ago, but I have yet to visit the Collection nationale. At my next visit, I will be reminded politely by one of the librarians or technicians that I have not yet reviewed that book on one of the four library computers reserved for such services.

I will explain other aspects of searching on Pistard in future posts.

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

The Seigneuries and Townships of Beauce, Bellechasse, Dorchester and Lotbinière

(Note, this is my last post until September. I have many more compilations ready to post then. Meanwhile, happy summer! Jacques)

The region south of the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and the U.S. border is a tranquil area of forests and farmland. The main highway hugs the shore of the broad St. Lawrence, crossing tributaries such as the Chaudière River, and the land rises gently to the south into the Appalachian Mountains. Today, this area is known as the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec.

The region has a long history of human habitation. Before the 1600s, the people of the Abenaki First Nation lived here. The French founded Quebec City in 1608 and started to grant large tracts of land called seigneuries to aristocrats and military officers. Each seigneury was long and narrow so it could border the St. Lawrence River, the only transportation corridor. Most of the early Europeans were men, including soldiers and fur traders, and the population remained small. In 1663, women arrived in the colony, chose husbands and started families. The population of New France grew quickly.

In 1759, the British defeated the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, and a new era of British rule began. Chaudière-Appalaches saw many new settlers arrive from England, Scotland and Ireland, and for the most part they got along well with their French-speaking neighbours. Today, the area remains primariiy French-speaking.

This 59-page guide in PDF format is designed to help you find the records of people who lived in this region. Click on this link to access the PDF:

The_Seigneuries of Beauce Lotbiniere Dorchester and Bellechasse

Contents:

  1. 1 Information on the seigneurs who owned much of the land, including the Lotbinière and Taschereau families.
  2. 5 Descriptions and histories of the region’s seigneuries.
  3. 20 Descriptions of the area’s townships, which were established by the British and date from the 1790s and 1800s. This guide includes links to the churches and cemeteries in these townships.
  4. 27 Descriptions and history of the counties in the region, including when they were created and how they were named and settled.
  5. 30 Towns that changed names over the last 240 years. If the town where your ancestor lived had different names over the years, this will help you identify it.
  6. 44 A list of regional cemeteries in each county or municipality.
  7. 45 Notaries prepared a variety of legal documents for their clients, including land transfers, wills and business agreements. The list of notaries shows where each one worked, the years he practiced and the location of his records at the archives today.
  8. 59 Contact information for the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City.
Genealogy, Loyalists, Quebec, Research tips

The townships of the Eastern Townships and the seigneuries of the Upper Richelieu River Valley

Today, Quebec’s Eastern Townships and Richelieu Valley areas feature fertile farmland and forests, lakes and rivers, wineries, ski hills and cycling trails for tourists, but at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, these areas were being newly settled by former colonial soldiers, British families, new immigrants from Scotland and Ireland, and Loyalists from south of the border.

This extensive guide to the settlement of these areas includes a description of the counties and townships in southern Quebec where these people settled. It does not attempt to cover any of the First Nations people who lived here before the European settlers arrived.

Quebec’s Eastern Townships and the Upper Richelieu Valley

Here are the topics you will find in this 120-page PDF:

Page 1   Biographies of the governors, land surveyors, missionaries and seigneurs who were influential in this area. Also geographical information about the Eastern Townships and a map of the area in 1792.

Page 6   An alphabetical list of the townships and counties of southern Quebec, with a brief history of the settlement of each area. Places highlighted in the Eastern Townships include Acton, Barford, Brome County, Bury, Compton, Drummondville, Magog, Megantic County, Missisquoi County, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Sutton, Stanstead and Thetford Township. The list of places in the Upper Richelieu Valley begins on p. 68 and includes Lacolle, and Saint-Valentin.  Where place names or jurisdiction have changed, I have indicated the old and new information. I have included links to a variety of web pages including archival sites, cemetery lists, and information about area churches.

Page 72   A list of links to cemeteries in these areas.

Page 75   A list of judicial districts and information on some of the notaries who worked in these communities. This section includes links to the more detailed articles I have written and published on Genealogy Ensemble about important notaries in these areas such as Louis Chaboillez and Peter Lukin.

Page 109   A list of repositories, including branches of the BAnQ, Bishops University and Protestant church archives.

Page 114   Links to some of my own articles on topics such as the saddlebag preachers and the German presence in the Eastern Townships.

Page 115   A list of authors, historians, genealogists and archivists who have contributed to our understanding of the history and people of the Eastern Townships.

Most people do not combine the Eastern Townships (better known in Quebec as les Cantons de l’Est, or l’Estrie,) with the Upper Richelieu River Valley. The Richelieu River lies to the west of the Eastern Townships and connects Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River. I did so because, following the British Conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham, British officers, British and Scottish soldiers, and Loyalist families fleeing the United States after the American Revolution began to emigrate to the shores of the Richelieu River.

They settled along the length of the Richelieu, from the fortified town of Sorel on the St. Lawrence River to the village of Lacolle at the U.S. border, populating towns such as Chambly, St. Johns (also referred to as Dorchester in the 1780s and later renamed Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the original name under French rule), Abbotsford, McMasterville, Otterburn Park, Mount Johnson (Mont-St-Grégoire), the Seigneury of Sir John Johnson, the Seigneury of Gabriel Christie, Henryville, Christieville, Odelltown, Clarenceville, Noyan, Fadden Corner and hamlets along the western sector of Missisquoi Bay.

One reason people chose to live in these areas was that much of the land in Quebec was owned by a few landowners called seigneurs. This system of land ownership, based on feudal principles borrowed from France, continued until the middle of the 19th century. The  Loyalists especially, who had owned their own land in the Thirteen Colonies, did not wish to settle on seigneurial lands and pay a rent yearly to a seigneur whom they had never met. So Governor Frederick Haldimand decided to create the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Governor Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) who replaced Haldimand (second term as governor) supported Haldimand’s decision.

 

 

France, Genealogy, Huguenot, Quebec, Research tips

Huguenot Family Lineage Searches

This week’s compilation, “France Huguenot Family Lineage Searches,” is designed to help you find your Protestant ancestors in 16th to 18th century France. It includes links to books and societies that can help you find your ancestral name in France prior to the French Revolution, and it focuses on Protestant aristocratic families. Click on the link to read the pdf document:

France Huguenots Family Lineage Searches

This guide complements the compilation published May 20, 2018 on Genealogy Ensemble on finding Huguenot families in France, “How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France”  https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/20/how-to-search-for-huguenot-ancestors-in-france/

In the past, a great deal of research was done on the Huguenots who came to Canada, however, many of the researchers who contributed to this field are now retired or have died. For example, Huguenot Trails (a periodical published by the Huguenot Society of Canada) addressed the Huguenot families who settled in Canada. This periodical stopped publishing in 2002, and the society closed its doors in 2006. The lead authors were Ken Annett and René Péron.  See my post, “Huguenots – Index of Names,” March 6, 2015  https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/03/06/848/  This article consists of a list of family names that appeared in “Huguenot Trails.”

Another fine piece of research is Fichiers Huguenots en Nouvelle France, by Michel Barbeau (http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/index.htm). This database includes only the Huguenot families who settled in New France prior to 1759.  See also, Huguenot Family Names in Nouvelle France, Québec under British rule, Lower Canada, Québec under Confederation – Various Authors. This and other reference works can be found at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal or at the Collection nationale (same building, different collections.)

Here are some other compilations I have prepared in the past on the Huguenots:

“British, Irish, Scottish, Loyalist, American, German, Scandinavian, Dutch, Huguenot Families in Lower Canada and Quebec 1760,” April 8, 2015

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/04/08/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-huguenot-families-in-lower-canada-and-quebec-1760/

This compilation is a list of villages, towns and townships in Quebec where various groups of people settled. Many of these places have changed names or disappeared over the years.

 

French Protestant Churches in Quebec,” Nov. 22, 2015

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/22/french-protestant-churches-in-quebec/

This compilation includes an article by Huguenot researcher René Péron, the names of Protestant ministers who served these French-speaking congregations and a bibliography for further reading. It includes brief histories of 187 churches, including Anglican, Baptist and other denominations, in which Protestant Quebecers have worshipped between 1600 and today. Finally, this extensive compilation tells you where to find the parish records of these churches.

 

The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada,” April 4, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/04/the-trail-of-the-huguenots-in-europe-the-u-s-a-and-canada/

This short post is a quote from a book in the library of the Quebec Family History Society in Montreal, The Trail of the Huguenots in Europe, the USA and Canada, by G. Elmore Reaman, that points to the important role the Huguenots played in New France. According to worldcat.org, this book is available in more than 1000 libraries around the world. It is also available online, https://archive.org/details/trailofhuguenots00ream

 

Huguenot Refugees,” April 2, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/02/huguenot-refugees/

This post links to several databases and websites.

 

Register of Abjurations,” Feb 3, 2014

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/03/register-of-abjurations/

This post covers records of renouncements of faith by Huguenots in New France.

 

France, Genealogy, Huguenot, Research tips

How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France

Many people know that the Huguenots were French Protestants who suffered persecution and left France around the 1600s to live in other countries where they felt more welcome. But not many genealogists know that it may be possible to trace their Huguenot ancestors in France. Doing this search online is possible but difficult, so the PDF document below is designed to help.

The Huguenots were members of the Église réformée de France (Reformed Church of France).  Some historians estimate that Protestants accounted for 10% of the population of France in the 16th century. That changed following the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris. Over the next 200 years, the Huguenots left France for England, Sweden, Switzerland, Prussia, Ireland, South Africa, Dutch East Indies, and other countries. A few families settled in New France (Quebec) and Russia. Today, the descendants of these Protestant families can be found around the world.

This research guide has been created in two sections:

1600-1685 – Protestant families in France: where they lived. This section is a general overview of the regions of France under the Old Regime, prior to the French Revolution of 1789-1799. It is only a reference tool since family lineage searches in France are not conducted by regions or provinces under the Old Regime, but under modern-day Départements

The 93 départements of France in which Protestant families resided during the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries (1565-1721) A département is like a state. Since the end of the French Revolution (1789-1799), France has been divided into 95 such states, and each département keeps its records in its own regional archives. There are no archives for Bretagne, Normandie, Aquitaine, Aunis or Bourgogne, nor for any of the more than 40 ancient provinces of France that existed prior to the French Revolution.

Before you search for your ancestor, you need to know where the family originated in France. All online family lineage searches in the 95 archives départementales of France (Regional Archives) are done by communes, meaning villages, towns, townships or cities.

From 92 of the 95 archives départementales of France (regional archives), you can look for your ancestor’s commune and then search church registers (registres des paroisses) from 1535 to 1789 or thereabout, civil registers after 1789, tables décennales (civil registers from 1789 onward by 10-year periods), notarial records. Notarial records are some of the oldest online documents you can access online.

Other online databases on the archives départementales de France will probably not help you in determining the places of origin of your Huguenot ancestors, because these date from after the French Revolution.

I have prepared a research guide to the archives départementales of France (See Jacques Gagne, “Researching French Ancestors Online,” Genealogy Ensemble, May 13, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/) In that PDF, I have described the documents which can be viewed online for free. If you are looking for Huguenots, concentrate on the Parish Registers (Church Registers, Registres paroissiaux or Registres de paroisses) from as early as 1535, and Notarial Acts (Actes des notaires.) A few of the notarial acts are from the 15th century, but most from the 16th or 17th centuries.

A third option deals with Protestant Church Registers (Registres protestants or Registre pastoral or Registres des Pasteurs), These are the few Protestant church registers that have survived.

Another option for searching the Archives départementales de France is, once you have determined the name of the ”commune” your ancestor resided in, go through the index of family names within the ”commune” section of the search engine and see if your family names are listed, even if the church registers are Catholic.

If you don’t know where your ancestors resided, for each of the 95 archives départementales of France, I have included websites indicating where certain families lived.

Don’t forget that not all members of a particular family became a Protestant. Some family members may have stayed with the Catholic Church.

Finally, just to add one more complication, your family name in France would have had a different spelling than the modern one. My family name in America is Gagné, but the same family in France is Gasnier or Gagnier: same pronunciation, different spelling. When I research online in France, I enter Gasnier or Gagnier as the family name, never Gagné.

Huguenot Families in France 1565-1721

A note about sources:

Much of the information I have compiled about the Huguenots of 16th, 17th and 18th-century France comes from old books that have been digitized. Over a 12-year period, whenever I came across a book dealing with the Huguenots of France, I would extract the names of the communes in which these families resided and add the names of those communes to my database.

I also discovered a database with the names of the Archives des consistoires de France, in which the communes are listed, as well as the Protestant Seigneurs, the Protestant pastors and the names of some of the Protestant families affected by court decisions.

In addition, to these books, I looked at Michelin maps and Larousse dictionaries. They helped me find out, for example, that the town of Bergerac is part of modern Dordogne, a département within the south-west region of France. This region was home to many Protestant families in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

You will find about 15 to 20 regional online databases of Protestant communes in 16th to 18th century France, but only for certain regions. A national listing of the modern départements of France in regard to the Huguenots of past centuries does not exist online.