France Région du Grand-Ouest
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the north-western region of France contributed the greatest number of immigrants to New France, Acadia and the Great Lakes Region of Upper Canada.
Most of these immigrants were Catholic, however, some were Protestant.
The Protestant presence in the north-western region of France began in 1523-1527 in the cities of Angers, Le Mans, and Rennes. From 1553 to 1560, Protestant churches were organized in Anjou, Aunis, Bretagne, Poitou, Saintonge, and Touraine within this region of France.
The following research guide will help you navigate the morass of resources available to genealogists researching Protestant ancestors from Normandy, Poitou and beyond. It contains information in both English and French.
Click on this link to read the 116-page PDF research guide:
The Protestants of North-West France
This guide includes: France Huguenot Family Lineage Searches in various archives in France; French Protestant records on FamilySearch.org; a description of Protestant Church Registers at various regional archives in France; the region; the authors (books about Protestants in north-west France, including collectif, or various authors); Protestant historical societies (national); Protestant historical societies (regional); Online resources including theses; Archives (France); Archives départmentales; Libraries; Old Protestant newspapers; Publishers; Protestant genealogy (regional); links to other articles on Genealogy Ensemble.
Protestant Church Registers at various regional archives in France
(Archives départementales & Archives communales de France)
Protestant pastoral church registers began around 1560 in many regions of France. At the regional archives of the Charente-Maritime, Protestant pastoral church registers began in 1561. At the Archives départementales du Calvados and at nearby Bibliothèque municipale de Caen, fonds contain Protestant baptisms and marriages from 1560 to 1572, in addition to an index of Protestant families and places of residence.
Documents which are normally found among the Collection communale et Collection départementale (archives originating from fonds) were researched and compiled by archivists at various Archives départementales (Regional Archives) and Archives communales (Municipal Archives.) These Protestant church registers can be found among the Parish registers (Registres paroissiaux) of an appreciable number of Archives départementales.
Protestant Church registers are described online at various archives as Actes pastoraux or Registres pastoraux. These are the acts of baptisms and marriages written by Protestant pastors (pasteurs Protestants) during the period described as Période du Désert, between the years of 1665 and 1787.
A second collection of church registers, addressing Protestant families and covering 1793 to 1820, is described as Actes de catholicité because Catholic Priests would baptize the children of Protestant parents. Also available online at most of the 95 Archives départementales de France are the civil registers described as Tables décennales, a regrouping of civil registers by 10-year periods from 1793 to 1912, or later at a number of départements (states). Among these Tables décennales you will find Protestant families (from 1822 onward) later at most regional archives (Archives départementales) of France.
Many of the regional archives (Archives départementales) will feature online information from fonds referred to as Familles protestantes du 16e et 17e siècles (Protestant families of the 16th and 17th centuries). In most cases these fonds were obtained from regional Protestant museums, historical and archeological societies, municipal archives and genealogical societies.
A few regional archives have listings of Protestant families of their own regions from the Société de l’histoire du protestantisme français (SHPF). This society, organized in 1852 and based in Paris, features a growing online database, in partnership with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, addressing the Protestant families of many regions of France from the 16th century onward. See: https://www.//shpf.fr/collections
The following are French language expressions you may come across as you research the Protestants of France in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Archives des consistoires de France – Protestant archives at the Archives nationales (France) Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)
Assemblée de nouveaux convertis – A description of former protestant individuals who left the faith in order to join the Catholic Church – It does appear that in some rare cases, that the contrary to the above also addressed former catholics who joined the protestant faith.
Assemblée protestante – Protestant church or temple
Assemblée de religionnaires – Protestant church or temple
Chapelle protestante – Protestant chapel
Communauté protestante – Protestant community
Communauté réformée – Protestant community
Culte protestant – Protestant faith
Culte réformé – Protestant faith
Demi-fief de Haubert – A person of the nobility (Bourgeoisie) who was the owner of a Seigniory which dates back to the Knights (Chevaliers) time period of ancient France.
Église réformée – Protestant Church of France
Exercice du culte – Liberty of action in regard to a place or places of worship
Familles protestantes – Protestant families
Familles réformées – Protestant families
Lieu de prière – Place of worship
Lieux de prière -Places of worship
Lieu d’exercice – Faith place name
Lieux d’exercice – Faith place names
Nouveau converti – New convert (Male)
Nouveaux convertis – New converts
Nouvelle convertie – New convert (Female)
Nouvelles converties – New converts
Placet au Roi (roi) – Written directives issued by various kings of France which reflects the will (power) of the Crown of France
Réformé – Protestant individual
Relaps – A person who no longer attend regular church services
Religion réformée – Protestant faith
Religionnaire – Protestant individual
Religionnaires – Protestant individuals
Synode – Synod
Synodes – Synods
Temple protestant – Protestant temple
Temple réformé – Protestant temple
Temples protestants – Protestant temples
Temples réformés – Protestant temples