Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips

Royal Notaries of New France and in Quebec under the British

For family researchers looking for ancestors in Quebec, notarial acts are much more than marriage contracts or wills. A notarial act can offer a detailed overview of all the members of a particular family through documents such as notarized after-death inventories.

In order to pinpoint where and when an ancestor settled within a particular region of Quebec, notarized land grants and land purchases, sales and leases can provide family lineage researchers with answers to their research stumbling blocks.

If your ancestor was a business person, notarial acts can describe the types of business activities your ancestor carried on, and the names of his partners or competitors.

All types of transactions that seigneurs carried on with their tenants in New France, between 1612 to 1760, and under British rule, from 1760 to 1854, were recorded by notaries. These records are a must for those with ancestors in rural districts of New France and British Quebec up to 1854.

In order to find the notarial documents relevant to your family’s activities, you first need to know the name of the notary who prepared these documents. Unless the notary’s acts have been digitized, you will need to scroll through his index to find the dates and act numbers so you can find the documents themselves.

In New France, there were three types of notaries: public notaries, also referred to as regular notaries; seigneurial notaries, appointed by the owners of vast territories called seigneuries; and royal notaries. In most cases, royal notaries were well-educated individuals who were considered to be of high integrity, and to have exemplary behaviour in family relationships and with business associates.

This is the group of notaries we wish to introduce to family history researchers in Canada and in the United States.

Royal notaries were appointed by representatives of the French Crown in New France, known as indendants. An intendant was an administrator appointed by either Louis XIII, Louis XIV or Louis XV, kings of France from 1621 to 1760, and by the kings of England during the reigns of George III and George IV.

The French intendants who appointed royal notaries were Louis Robert (1663-1665), Jean Talon (1665-1668 & 1670-1672), Jacques Duchesneau (1675-1682), Jacques de Meules (1682-1686), Jean de Champigny (1686-1702), François de Beauharnais (1702-1705), Jacques Rondot (1705-1711), Michel Bégon (1712-1726), Claude Thomas Dupuy (1726-1728), Gilles Hocquart (1731-1748) and François Bigot (1748-1760).

Following the British conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, the authorities who appointed royal notaries in British Quebec were: Governor James Murray (1760-1768), Lieutenant Governor in Montreal Thomas Gage (1760-1763), Lieutenant Governor in Trois-Rivières Ralph Burton (1760-1766 and 1763-1766 in Montreal), Governor Guy Carleton (1768-1770 & 1774-1778 & 1786-1796), Lieutenant Governor Hector de Cramahé (1770-1774) and Governor Frederick Haldimand (1778-1784).

One of the best experts on royal notaries was André Vachon, a university professor, author and archivist. Born in Quebec City in 1933, he was archivist at the Archives de la Province de Québec (the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec) from 1956 to 1961. For nine years, he was a professor at Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke, and from 1971 to 1976, he was curator at the Archives nationales du Québec. He was also historian and managing director of Les Presses de l’Université Laval.

From 1967 onward, Vachon wrote 15 books, one of which should be considered of exceptional value to family lineage researchers. It is called L’Histoire du Notariat Canadien (The history of the Notaries in Canada)

In addition, Vachon contributed a series of excellent articles that were published over many years by the Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française. These are available online through Erudit, the largest French-language research platform in North America. Many of his texts addressed the subject of notaries in New France from 1621 to 1759, as well as notaries under the British regime.

For more details on Vachon’s career and the Andre Vachon Fonds at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, see http://pistard.banq.qc.ca/unite_chercheurs/description_fonds?p_anqsid=201402101331371539&p_centre=03Q&p_classe=P&p_fonds=840&p_numunide=835866

The following articles, researched and compiled by Vachon and his associates, describe most of the royal notaries of New France and those who served as royal notaries under the British regime in Québec.

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1955/v9/n3/301728ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1956/v9/n4/301791ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/cd/2013/v54/n1/1014289ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n2/301835ar.pdf

https://www.erudit.org/revue/haf/1957/v11/n1/301806ar.pdf

If you want to find out which notaries served your ancestors in Quebec, the websites of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) are the best places to look. These sites list notaries who were described as royal notaries or as public notaries (regular notaries) or as seigniorial notaries.

Archiv-Histo (Parchemin) (https://archiv-histo.com/assets/publications/2015-Notaires-liste-Chrono-Tablo.pdf ) provides a research tool on the notaries who served in New France. There were 206 notaries working in New France from 1634 to 1759, and 2,086 notaries served in Quebec from 1760 to 1899.

 Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaires/) offers readers a tool to research notaries by regions of Québec who served during the 19th century and a few within the 18th century in all regions of Quebec. These regions can be found on the left side of the front page under the heading of Par region.

These regions were:

>> Montreal Region

Island of Montreal plus Saint-Hyacinthe – Richelieu River Valley – Iberville – Joliette – Terrebonne – Beauharnois – Longueil – Laval – Labelle – Bedford

>> Quebec City Region

City of Québec plus Montmagny – Saguenay – Beauce

>> Central Region of Quebec (Mauricie et Centre du Québec)

City of Trois-Rivières plus Arthabaska County – Drummond County – St. Maurice County

>> Eastern Townships (Estrie)

City of Sherbrooke plus St. Francis Judicial District (Sherbrooke, Stanstead, Richmond, Compton, Wolfe Counties) – Bedford Judicial District (Missisquoi, Brome, Shefford,Counties plus the Upper Richelieu River Valley (Missisquoi Bay)) – Megantic County

>> Western Quebec (Outaouais)

District of Hull-Gatineau plus Gatineau County – Pontiac County – Labelle County – Papineau County under Hull-Gatineau District

>> Lower St. Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent)

Regions of Rimouski and Rivière-du-Loup plus Kamouraska District, Gaspé County, Bonaventure County

>> Saguenay – Lac-St-Jean

Regions of Chicoutimi (Saguenay today) plus Roberval, Alma

>> North Western Quebec (Abitibi-Témiscamingue-Nord-du-Québec)

Abitibi County, Témiscamingue County

>> St. Lawrence Lower & Upper North Shores

Baie-Comeau & Sept-Iles regions from Tadoussac to the Labrador Border along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River

Please note: All articles by André Vachon and his associates on the Érudit site, as well as the content of Parchemin (Archiv-Histo) and of the BAnQ are in the French language only. Try using Google Translate, or another online translation service.

See also:

Jacques Gagné, “Finding Quebec’s Early Notarial Records,” Genealogy Ensemble, Jan.1, 2017, https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/

Jacques Gagné, “Notaries of Lower Canada, 1760-1848,” Genealogy Ensemble, April 29, 2018, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/04/29/notaries-of-lower-canada-1760-1848/

Compiled by Jacques Gagné

gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca 

 

Genealogy, Quebec

Finding Quebec’s Early Notarial Records

Many people living across North America today had ancestors in the colony of New France or in the British colony of Quebec prior to 1800. The legal documentation of their business transactions, property transfers, wills and marriage contracts were prepared by notaries.

Notarial acts written after 1800, plus a few from the late 18th century, are available on microfilm at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and are in the process of being digitized. You can search the BAnQ website (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaries/), while a growing number of notarial documents can be viewed on familysearch.org (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Quebec_Notarial_Records) and on Ancestry.ca (http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=61062&geo_a=r&o_iid=41015&o_lid41015&_sch=Web+Property).

But most acts of notaries prior to 1800 are only available through a database called Parchemin, and you will have to visit a branch of the BAnQ or go to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa to consult this database.

Parchemin is a collection of hundreds of thousands of records prepared by the notaries of early Quebec, from the first French settlement of North America until December 31, 1799. During this two-century period, more than 275 notaries practised in New France and in Quebec following the British conquest. The collection of original documents takes up hundreds of meters of shelf space, and is mainly preserved at the BAnQ.

The Parchemin database was built with software designed specifically for notarial documents. It displays like a computer directory, providing access to personal data, as well as to other information regarding the nature of the transaction.

The Parchemin database was developed by Archiv-Histo with the financial support of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, and other government programs.

You can search the Parchemin database at the LAC archives in Ottawa, Ontario, and at various BAnQ locations across Quebec (see list below). Parchemin is also available at some municipal and university libraries in Quebec which are not listed here because they are accessible to residents and students only.

Future posts will identify many of these early notaries and describe the work they did.

https://archiv-histo.com/assets/publications/2015-Notaires-liste-Chrono-Tablo.pdf

Where to access Parchemin by Archiv-Histo

Ontario

  • Bibliothèque et Archives Canada – Library Archives Canada

395, Wellington Street. Ottawa (Ontario) K1A ON4 – email:
BAC.CCG-CGC.LAC@canada.ca

Québec

Gaspé

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

80, boulevard de Gaspé, Gaspé (Québec) G4X 1A9
1-800-363-9028 poste 6573 – emaill : archives.gaspe@banq.qc.ca

Gatineau

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

855, boulevard de la Gappe, Gatineau (Québec) J8T 8H9
(819) 568-8798 – email : archives.gatineau@banq.qc.ca

Montréal

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

Édifice Gilles-Hocquart
535, avenue Viger, Est, Montréal (Qc) H2L 2P3
(514) 873-1100 – email : archives.montreal@banq.qc.ca

  • Société généalogique canadienne-française

3440, Davidson, Montréal (Qc), H1W 2Z5
(514) 527-1010 – email : info@sgcf.com

Québec

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec – Pavillon Louis-Jacques-Casault – Campus de l’Université Laval – 1055, avenue du Séminaire, Québec (Québec) G1V 4N1
    (418) 643-8904 – email : archives.quebec@banq.qc.ca

Rimouski

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

337, rue Moreault, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1P4
(418) 727-3500 – email : archives.rimouski@banq.qc.ca

  • Société de généalogie et d’archives de Rimouski

110, rue de l’Évêché est, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1X9
(418) 724-3242 – sghr.ca/fr/contact

Rouyn-Noranda

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

27, rue du Terminus Ouest, Rouyn-Noranda (Québec) J9X 2P3
(819) 763-3484 – email : archives.rouyn@banq.qc.ca

Saguenay :

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

930, rue Jacques-Cartier Est, bureau C-103, Saguenay (Québec) G7H 7K9 – (418) 698-3516 – email. archives.saguenay@banq.qc.ca

Saint-Hyacinthe :

  • Le Centre d’histoire de St-Hyacinthe

650, rue Girouard Est, St-Hyacinthe (Québec) J2S 2Y2
(450) 774-0203 – infos@chsth.com

Salaberry-de-Valleyfield

  • Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Salaberry

16, rue Saint-Lambert, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (Québec)  J6T 1S6
(450) 763-2398 – email : shgs2011@hotmail.fr

Sept-Îles

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

700, boulevard Laure, bureau 190, Sept-Îles (Québec) G4R 1Y1
(418) 964-8434 – email : archives.sept-iles@banq.qc.ca

Sherbrooke

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

225, rue Frontenac, bureau 401, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 1K1
(819) 820-3010 – email : archives.sherbrooke@banq.qc.ca

  • Société généalogique des Cantons de l’Est

275, rue Dufferin, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 4M5
(819) 821-5414 – email: sgce@abacom.com

Trois-Rivières

  • BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec

225, rue des Forges, bureau 208, Trois-Rivières (Québec) G9A 2G7
(819) 371-6015 – email : archives.trois-rivieres@banq.qc.ca