The Notaries of Quebec who Served among Loyalist, British, Scottish, Irish, Germanic and American Families during the British Military Period in Lower Canada
Beginning with the French regime (1635) and continuing after the British conquest (post Plains of Abraham,1759,) the people of Quebec were privy to a judicial system that guaranteed the setting down in writing of marriage contracts, wills and testaments, after-death inventories, business engagements, leases, sales, purchases of houses or farms, etc. Transactions of all types were recorded by notaries within the three judicial districts of New France: Quebec City, Montreal and Trois-Rivières.
Many of the post-conquest documents are available at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) online or on microfilm.
After the British conquest of 1759, Governor James Murray at Quebec City, Thomas Gage at Montreal, and Ralph Burton at Trois-Rivières began the process of interviewing notaries who had been previously appointed under the French regime by Governor Pierre de Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal.
The majority of French-born notaries elected to return to France while most of the native-born notaries decided to stay. These native-born notaries were interviewed once again by the Chief Justice and Attorney General.
This research guide to British military period notaries in Lower Canada will guide you directly to the relevant BAnQ webpages containing biographies of these individuals, along with descriptions of the contents of their respective fonds.
Click here to see the attached pdf research guide: Notaries Loyalists British Scottish research guide
Here are some of the many expressions you will encounter among notarial acts written in the French language:
Abandon – Action in which one renounces, relinquishes, or dispenses with a property, farm, house, barns, farm equipment, farm animals.
Acceptation – Action in which one agrees to accept the final transfer of rights or assets
Acte de dernières volontés – (final wishes) See Testament
Acte soussigné privé – Agreement reached by two parties (persons) without the intervention of a court official (public officer)
Adoption – Adoption
Contrat de mariage – Marriage contract
Curatelle – Judicial acts – Authority given to an adult individual by the justice system (Regional Court House) or by an assembly of family members in order for the selected person to be the administrator of all assets, funds and capital for those who are not capable of managing their own assets
Inventaire – After-death inventory
Jugement – Acte judiciaire – Judgement, verdict, decision, ruling, pronouncement
Partage – The allocation to a group of people (family members, in most cases) of assets, funds, capital, lands, farms, houses, barns, farm animals
Testament – Wills and testaments
Tutelle – Authority accorded to a person by law or by the wishes of a testator or by an assembly of family members in order for that person to be the guardian of a emancipated minor and for the chosen person to be the overseer and administrator of all assets and funds obtained through a will from the minor’s parents.
Please note: Some of the notarial acts can be viewed online, others can be accessed on microfilm or microfiche at various repositories of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). At the BAnQ, all files downloaded are free. All dossiers requested by email are also viewed for free. See details at the conclusion of this research guide.
In addition, some notarial acts of Quebec can be viewed online at Ancestry.ca (Ancestry.com), Généalogie Québec (Genealogy Quebec) or FamilySearch.org. The latter is free to anyone who completes the online membership request, giving access to all databases stored there.
The notaries included in the attached research guide are those who, throughout their careers, dealt with Loyalist, French, British, Irish, Scottish, German, Scandinavian and non-Loyalist American families in various regions of Quebec and Lower Canada. The selection process was carried out at the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, the Collection nationale du Québec (Bibliothèque nationale du Québec) and BAnQ Vieux-Montréal (Archives nationales du Québec).
You may encounter a Restriction de consultation (legal restriction) to certain notarial acts. Legal access restrictions are usually found among the notaries who served the elite families of Quebec during the British military period or the Lower Canada period. For example, if you count the fur barons of Montreal among your ancestors, you may encounter legal restrictions on many of the notarial acts that refer to them. Many of these restrictions were still in effect in 2019 and only direct family lineage descendants can access some of these notarized documents, such as wills (testaments), business transactions, after-death inventories and estate settlements. Over the years, some family members might have lifted such restrictions imposed when the acts were first recorded.
An asterisk after a notary’s name denotes an association with, or professional services rendered to, British governors such as Jeffery Amherst, James Murray, Guy Carleton, Frederick Haldimand, Lord Dorchester (Guy Carleton), or with British generals, British administrators, Lieutenant Governors or Chief Justices. These include Conrad Gugy, Thomas Dunn, William Gregory, William Hey, George Suckling, P.A. Irving, Hector Theophilus de Cramahé, Henry Hamilton, Henry Hope, Alured Clarke, Adam Mabane, Walter Murray, Samuel Holland, François Mounier, James Cuthbert, Benjamin Price, Francis Massères and others.