Methodolgy

You May Now Purchase Recordings of Our French Genealogy Lectures

Learn French Genealogy

Many of you, Dear Readers, expressed regret at not being able to take our online French genealogy courses offered a few months ago with the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (which has, sadly, ceased operating). Each of those two courses consists of four lectures of an hour and a half each; to take them was rather a big commitment. Now, you can purchase the recordings* of the eight lectures separately, enabling you to learn at your own pace and to select only the lectures that you think you may need, in whatever order you prefer to hear them.

The lecture titles are:

Series 1 - First Steps in French Genealogy

  1. The History and Development of French Parish and Civil Registrations - The purpose, structure and requirements of the registration of population data changed over the centuries of the Ancien Régime, through the Revolution and into modern times. What information was written, how and why, are covered, as are the non-Catholic registrations of populations such as the Jewish and Protestant peoples.
  2. Birth and Death Registrations - While French death registrations normally provide very little information, birth registrations, particularly from the mid-nineteenth century onward, are often a rich source of detail. How to find, interpret and use this information is explained.
  3. Marriage Registrations - French marriage registrations often run to two full pages in the registers, with a wealth of information. Their format is explained and examples are examined.
  4. Online Resources and How to Use Them - There are dozens of French websites of use to the genealogist, most of which are free to use. However, most are in French. This session discusses them and gives guidelines for the non-French speaker in how to navigate them.

Series 2 - French Notarial Records

  1. History and Definitions - The course begins with an explanation and history of notaires and notarial records and with a discussion of their importance to French families. The six degrees of relationship, so important in French inheritance law, are explained. The case study family is introduced.
  2. The Death Inventory and Wills - The structure and format of the death inventory is explained and discussed, followed by a discussion of French wills. Examples from the case study are examined, showing how such documents not only reveal much about a life but can also provide much genealogical information.
  3. The Marriage Contract - Marriage contracts have been common in French families for centuries. Why this is so is explained, as are the main types of contract. The structure and format are explained and examples examined. Because an entire family is usually involved, these contracts can be of enormous genealogical value and should never be ignored. Two marriage contracts from the case study family are examined.
  4. How to Find Notarial Records Online - Finding notarial records is complicated. This session explains how they are stored, how the indices to them are structured, and how to find the record sought. The unique case of Parisian notarial archives is also explained.

The price for each recording is $15. This includes the syllabus.

The recordings are MP4 files and can be played with Quicktime and a number of other programmes.

The files are quite large (70 to 90 MB) and will be shared with you via DropBox, so you will need to be able to access DropBox.

To purchase a recording, write to us at TheFGB(AT)protonmail(DOT)com .

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

*We are most grateful to the VIGR Director and eminent genealogist, Michael Hait, for the suggestion and permission to make our lectures available in this way.


Filae Launches an English Version

Filae languages

Sound the fanfare, Filae.com, one of the two major French commercial genealogy websites, now has pages in English. Click on the French flag in the upper right hand corner and a blended US/UK flag will drop down. Click on that and away you go.

Filae English

For those of you who have been intimidated by the French, you may now jump in and explore many, many French genealogy resources, all of them pretty well indexed.

Enjoy!

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Italians in Nice and Marseille

Nice

Something must be afoot among those of Italian descent who stumble upon ancestors born in southern France, particularly in Nice or Marseille. We usually receive a trickle of queries on the subject but they are increasing of late, not quite to flood level but, shall we say, to the level of a mighty river in full flow. What is the cause, Dear Readers? We cannot say but we can explain the presence of some of  these Italians in southern France that seem so bemusing to you.

Succinctly, both cities are on the Mediterranean Sea; Marseille, a major port,  has been French since the fifteenth century, while Nice, on a beautiful bay, was a part of the Duchy of Savoie from the fourteenth century and did not join France definitively until 1860. The culture and language of Nice were so Italian that, after 1860, a serious process of francisation was considered necessary by the authorities.

The Wikipedia article explaining that delightful word does not do justice to the concept; it limits it merely to language. We find that francisation is so much more than simply replacing a word with its French equivalent, something the sainted Fowler abhors; it is making someone or something French. Vessels can undergo francisation, wherein they are not merely sold but are treated as if they were built in France. We think a case can be made that the new, French, birth registrations created for naturalized citizens may be said to be a form of francisation. In the French mind, places, people and objects, can be transformed, by francisation,  into someone or something completely and originally French. We asked our friend, the scholar Monsieur B. about this. Over a glass of pinot, he explained the ever so precise French definitions of pays, état, et nation, country, state and nation. "Le pays est le territoire": a country is a geographical term, a place defined by its territory.  "L'état est l'administration": the state is the administration and institutions. "La nation est le peuple" : the nation is the people. The francisation of Nice would have been, he explained, across all three and, therefore, thorough and absolute. A century and a half ago the character of Nice changed dramatically as the city and her people became French, while Marseille, though as polyglot as any great port, has been very French for six hundred years.

Their close neighbour, now Italy, has had intertwined histories with both cities. Turin and Nice were part of the same duchy for hundreds of years, for example, trading comfortably with one another. Marseille has consistently been a place of refuge for Italians, some of whom we wrote about here. In the late nineteenth century, more than ninety thousand Italians migrated, often temporarily, to Marseille, seeking work. Thousands more spread across the region. So, many northern Italian families have branches in Nice and many migratory Italian families had one or two children born in Marseille.

To research Italian ancestors who lived in and near these cities, different procedures are necessary for each. Those of you with established skills in French genealogy will find Nice more complicated but not impossible. We have explained Nice research and given more history here and here . We have written about Marseille Marriage records online, and about our visits to the Municipal Archives of Marseille and the Departmental Archives of Bouches-du-Rhône. Should you be able to visit this last for your research, a number of different record series contain information on Italians in and around Marseille:

  • Police surveillance records
  • Census returns, including in some towns, special censuses of Italians
  • Tenement inspections by public health officials
  • For those who remained and took French nationality, they may appear in the naturalization application files

You may also want to search for a name in the naturalization files of the Archives nationales. These include refused applications. The French commercial genealogy websites, especially Filae.com, have indexed the official publication of announcements of naturalizations (so, only those granted). 

Lastly, if you lose track of them again, be aware that many Italians in France migrated on to Algeria. To research these, you will want to go to the website of the Archives nationales d'outre-mer.

The research can be very rewarding, helping to track a family's movements between France and Italy, and finding births and marriages in French records that could not be found in Italian records.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


Is It a Surname or a Place?

French names

Rural France abounds with villages (villages), hamlets (hameaux),  and properties (lieux-dits) that have charming or peculiar names, as the case may be. Most were attached to a parish before the French Revolution, then to a commune afterward. They are notoriously difficult for the researcher to locate. Some, such as La Bachellerie, occur all over France. Some, such as Bleigeat, seem to occur nowhere except in the imagination of an immigrant in Louisiana who gave it as his place of birth (though it really does exist).

We have discussed how to use the Cassini maps and the hundreds of online Napoleonic era maps to find some of them. We have shared Professeur B.'s lecture on micro-geography and lieux-dits. We have also given an example of the case of a tricky place name found on a Natchitoches document that required help from French archivists for clarification. There are numerous websites that attempt to list all such names in France that you could try.

What to do when these place names turn up as part of a surname? We are not referring to surnames that are also place names, such as Bourges, or Paris, or Loire. Nor are we referring to "dit names", which are nicknames that, over time, became family names, such as Le Bon, or Le Sage, or Le Grand. ("Dit names" exist in France but are found much more often in Québec.) We also are not discussing here aristocratic names that are compilations of titles and locations. We are referring to the recording of a place name near to a surname in a register and the confusion that it can cause the researcher.

For example, a child whose name appears to be Léonard Farge du Piager was born in Saint-Martial-de-Gimel in Corrèze in 1813.

Du PiagerArchives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

 

His parents are Jean Farge and Marie Puyrobert. Is his surname Farge du Piager, and the officer simply shortened his father's version of the name, or is his surname simply Farge and he is of a place called Piager, (which must be within the boundaries of Saint-Martial-de-Gimel to appear in this birth register)? In the search for that ever elusive comfort, certainty, you might try reading a few pages of the register. In this example, you will find that the name of each child has such an extension and the words are different. This suggests that the officer is indicating in their names where they were born, as the form offers no way to do so. Seeing this practice, you could then check one of the many lists of Corrèze's lieu-dit names for the village to verify that this is what the officer is doing.

In another town, in the same department, Espagnac, the recording officer tried to solve the problem of indicating the place, La Rivière, by putting it in the margin in the birth register.

La RivièreArchives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

 

This would only cause confusion to the researcher when initially reading down the margin, assuming that the place names were surnames, as those are usually what one finds in the margin. Eventually, the penny would drop and one would see that these are not surnames of a few remarkably prolific families but place names of scattered communities.

Again in Espagnac, a different approach was tried a bit later. Here, the officer put both the surname and the place name in the margin of the birth register. In this case, it is immediately clear that the children are not all with grand monikers as the name in the registration is different from that in the margin. In the margin, the child's name appears to be Antoine Borie du Coudert, but in the registration, it is simply Antoine Borie.

Borie du Couderc

Archives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

To verify that the surname is not Borie du Coudert, you could check the table annuelle at the end of the register for the year. It shows that the name is Antoine Borie, tout simple.

Espagnac naissances 1818Archives départementales de la Corrèze, http://www.archives.cg19.fr/recherche/archiveenligne/

To verify that it is a place name, you would have to check maps and lists of place names for Espagnac, as well as read through more of the register to determine the officer's procedures.

We hope that this brings no disappointment, that none of you are having to let go of a name that seemed grand but is more plain and honest. If so, try to remember that some of these place names bring no glory. Du Marais, for example, means "from the swamp".

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


A French Stumbling Block on Your GPS Road

Paris-Vienne 1902

A few years ago, we attended the excellent online study session run by "Dear Myrtle" on the book "Mastering Genealogical Proof" by Thomas W. Jones. We published our own little booklet on trying to align French documentation with the Genealogical Proof Standard. After the second session, we wrote:

      • Civil, as opposed to parish or religious, documentation in America went from almost nothing in the earlier years to documents with an increasing amount of information. In many places, birth, marriage and death records were not kept until the mid-nineteenth century. Remoter places without churches or other religious establishments had no parish records either. In France, in spite of a few revolutions, there has been a steady recording of births or baptisms, marriages and deaths or burials since the sixteenth century.
      • In America, each state, once it decided to record information about individuals, determined what to record and how. There can be at least fifty different types of birth registration, and many more when the differences at the county level are taken into consideration. In France, the department is merely an administrative division, not a separate state with its own rights that is part of a federation. France is a republic with one and only one government, directed from Paris and the directives carried out at the departmental, arrondissement and communal levels throughout the country. Thus, all civil registrations at any one time follow the same format. Historically and still today, that format for a civil registration generally contains a great deal more information than a civil registration does in America.

This means that a researcher in America has to deal with a lack of civil registration that must be supplemented with other types of documentation (such as tax records, court records, etc.) and that much of the documentation, especially if it were created in a remote area with little administration,  may not be trustworthy.  Thus, much of the emphasis of the Genealogical Proof Standard is on the quality of the source and the source of the information. In France, however, civil and legal documentation tends to be more trustworthy for the simple reason that one always has had to show a document to make a document, e.g. to show an authenticated and official copy of one's birth registration or baptism registration (or now, one's identity card) to enroll in the army or to marry.

Primary, Secondary and Indeterminable Information

This requirement enhances the trustworthiness of French documentation -- by the criteria under discussion -- significantly. One panellist, Kathryn Lake Hogan, recounted a tale of a man who, on applying for a marriage license, gave an incorrect name for his parent. This would be unimaginable in France as both of the couple must present official copies of their birth registrations in order to marry, and those birth registrations give their parents' full names.

Perhaps in that last paragraph we were a bit blithe. In the past couple of years, our research has taken us down some tiny paths into the documentation of small communities and baffling families and we have come across an odd phenomenon that would seem to be rooted in some sort of grief or madness or obsession or serious cerebral limitation. What we have encountered is, essentially, a child assuming (or having forced upon it) the identity of a deceased older sibling. The procedure seems to follow something like this:

  • A child, say Antoine, is born in 1820 and dies in 1822.
  • Another child, say Léonard, is born to the same parents in 1825. He has no middle names.
  • No other male child is born to this couple.
  • Throughout his life, Léonard gives his name as Antoine but his date of birth as in 1825. He also gives his parents' names, birth dates, marriage date and death dates correctly.
  • On the census returns, Léonard appears with his family as Antoine, with his age corresponding to his birth year of 1825.

We have just come across our fifth example of this form of resurrection (of the dead child) or soul murder (of the living child) and find it quite remarkably unusual in the way that it is outside of the pattern of love of conformity that is the hallmark of the French civil servant's mind. While it may be fascinating to wonder about what was happening in those peoples' lives to drive them to this, as genealogists, this poses a serious problem with normally reliable French documentation.

It really does seem likely that Léonard born in 1825 is using the name Antoine; and we will want to assume that when Léonard marries using the name Antoine and gives his birth in 1825 and we find the birth registration in the name of Léonard, we can use it. Only we cannot, if we are going to adhere to the Genealogical Proof Standard, because we have nothing, absolutely no documentation, to say that Léonard called himself Antoine. What we must do is build a case with a great deal more research.

  • Every census return must be examined to see all possible children
  • The research must be extended to siblings and cousins of the parents to see if, actually, this may not be a cousin Antoine with the same date of birth and with parents of the same names (not at all a rarity) and, actually, that Léonard died in a different commune.
  • The saint's day for Antoine and for Léonard must be identified for the year 1825 and for 1820 to see if any logical use of the names can be discovered.
  • Church records will have to be pursued, not an easy task for post-1792 records, as they are not in archives or public records but belong to the Church. Copies of the baptisms of both children and of the burial record of the first Antoine must be requested from the local diocesan archives to see hnow the names appear.
  • The wills and death inventories of the parents of Antoine and Léonard should be requested, to see clearly the names of their surviving children.

Certainty of identification will probably be denied the researcher. In a case such as this, we suspect that a probable identification will be the best that one can achieve.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Improve Your French Genealogy Vocabulary With YouTube

Vocabulary

 

Many of you, Dear Readers, are keen to learn more French, and we applaud your ambition. Yet, few classes in French concentrate specifically on the vocabulary necessary for genealogical research. Our own glossary lists words found in the documents, records and archives that you will discover, but what about the vocabulary necessary to discuss your research and to develop your research skills? As you progress, you will want to communicate about your genealogical research in French with archivists, or fellow researchers or even cousins. 

We propose that you listen to the pithy little lectures on the YouTube channel of Archives et Cultures. There are now one hundred and seventeen of these small lessons in genealogy. Most are about two and a half minutes long; the longest reaches all the way to four minutes. An uncredited presenter of some charm discusses all manner of genealogical and historical subjects, with good enunciation. About half are on subjects relating to daily life of long ago, discussing such delights as the washer, the iron, wooden shoes, soft toys, Father Christmas, and so on. The other half covers solid topics in genealogy, such as censuses, ten-year indices, military records, cemeteries, archives, etc.

When next you are feeling sluggish and discouraged with your French genealogy, do try one of these snippets that should both divert and educate.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

We received this lovely comment with interesting suggestions by e-mail from Mme. E.:  Bonjour, Anne,
As we are in the throes of Mardi Gras, I have not had time to listen to one of those "pithy little lectures" to which you refer in the latest post. But I would like to recommend that those who want to learn the catch-phrases and vocabulary of French genealogy, subscribe to a French society list and just lurk, reading all the questions, réponses, and discussions. It is also a good lesson in French internet etiquette. My free subscription to the GHC-Liste these past decades has been worth it's weight in 'ti sou. Of course the spoken word adds another dimension. And then there the are genealogy publications...
I look forward to every one of your blog posts and devour them with great delight. Thank you!


Correspondance Consulaire et Commerciale - an Excellent Resource

CCC-New York
The proper name for this series in the Archives diplomatiques is Correspondance consulaire et commerciale (1793-1901) (CCC) and we have recently discovered that, in some cases, it is a dandy resource for researching French in foreign lands, especially:

  • Bonapartists, after 1815
  • Deserters from French naval vessels after 1815
  • Refugees from Saint Domingue

The reason for the first two is that, after the fall of Napoleon and the First Empire, the restored royal rulers pursued Bonapartists and deserters with vindictive enthusiasm. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued orders to all consuls around the world to keep an eye on any Bonapartists and other French exiles and to attempt to note the names of sailors who jumped ship, deserting from the French navy. Consuls also noted the names of some of the refugees from Saint Domingue arriving in their cities and, later, helped them with the documentation necessary to apply for compensation for their losses from the French government.

The volumes of the CCC are full of dispatches from consuls to the Minister in Paris containing lists of names and surveillance reports. These could be of help in identifying the moment of arrival of your French ancestor and in finding more detail about his or her origins. The consuls varied in their competence and efficiency. That in New York, d'Espinville, was a diligent and enthusiastic reporter. He wrote a valuable list of sixty Saint Domingue refugees who voyaged from New York to France on the Normande in 1820. Most do not appear in the lists of colonists who received compensation, so this may be the only source connecting them to New York or to Saint Domingue, or naming them at all.

SD refugees

A number of sailors deserted from the Normande and D'Espinville made more than one list of their names:

Deserters

Such ordinary and not at all illustrious people as these sailors are often quite hard to trace. A list such as this, giving the place of birth, could significantly advance one's genealogical research.

D'Espinville, an aristocrat who lost all in the Revolution, was especially keen at surveillance of Bonapartists, not all of whom were well-known and have Wikipedia articles about them.

Surveillance New York

But beware, not all consuls were as industrious or conscientious as D'Espinville. The consul at Baltimore for the same period, the early nineteenth century, wrote no consular correspondence at all from 1803 to 1838. Prior to that, he wrote a great deal about the refugees from Saint Domingue generally but almost nothing specifically. His only list is one naming the refugees who had died.

Refugee death list Baltimore

 

The CCC is partially microfilmed but, to our knowledge is not at all available online. One must visit the Archives diplomatiques in La Courneuve and use the old but very reliable finding aid.

CCC

Then, one must really hope that the consul for the city researched did his job!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 


More and More Online - But You Have to Separate and Regroup the Sources

Strands to separate

A brief update on crucial indexing resources becoming available to you Dear Readers, albeit in the most chaotic way imaginable. Recall that we have explained many times that France's birth, marriage and death registrations, whether parish or civil, are created locally, in a commune or parish. When they reach a certain age, they are stored a little less locally, in Departmental Archives. The hold parish registrations up to 1792 and civil registrations from 1792 onward. To research your ancestor, you must know the commune or parish where the event was recorded so that you can know in which Departmental Archives the event has been stored so that you can research on that Departmental Archives' website. The trick for many, of course, is finding that parish or commune in the first place.

As we have reported here before, the race has been on between commercial genealogy websites, genealogy associations (or cercles) and a few Departmental Archives to index as many parish and civil registrations as possible in order to be seen as the best and most centralized database of French registrations and thus to win the prize of lost of paying subscribers. No one website has an nation-wide index to all registrations, but the main  contenders are:

  • Geneanet
  • Filae
  • Ancestry France (back in the game after a long snooze)
  • Bigenet (which is scheduled to shut down next month)
  • Geneabank

Where does this leave the hapless researcher? It can be very easy to search an ancestor on a website, find nothing and wrongly believe that there is nothing. They certainly will not tell you that they have indexed only a few departments' registrations and that you should also try their competitors. Once you have tried them all, how do you know that you have researched all the locations that you wanted to do? Well, the best thing to do is to check their source list before you start. Here's how:

On Geneanet, click on "Search" and, in the drop down menu, on "Genealogy Society Indexes"

Geneanet 1That takes you to a page with another drop down menu that lists all of the Genealogy Societies whose indices they present.

Geneanet 2

 

 

On Filae, scroll to the bottom of the page to "Ressources Généalogiques":Filae 1

 

If you click on "Archives départementales" you do NOT get a list of departmental archives represented on Filae, somewhat misleadingly to our mind. What you get is a page of information about each departmental archives, with the address, a link to the website and then, the names of any associations whose indices are on Filae, identified as "partenaires" (partners). Here is the page for the department of Bas-Rhin:

 

Filae 2

Going back and clicking on "Associations de généalogie" will take you to the same pages for each department as in the example above. Filae certainly seems to have the most agreements with the many departmental archives and even have managed to snag the Municipal Archives of Bordeaux ever so recently. However, the images that they show online seem to be almost exclusively civil registrations. They do have associations' indices of some parish registrations but check the page for the department to see if they have indices for the area of your research.

On Ancestry, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "partenaires",  (they do not make it easy)

 

Ancestry France

 This brings a small but not insignificant list of associations lending their work to Ancestry:

Ancestry 2

 

On Bigenet, you have both a map and a list showing the departments covered:

 

Bigenet 1

To know what associations' indices they have, click on "associations généalogiques" at the top of the page:

 

Bigenet 2


This takes you to a complete list of all the associations having indices on Bigenet:

 

Bigenet 3
 

 Lastly, on Geneabank, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "la page des associations":

 

Geneabank 1

This takes you to their complete list of associations:

 

Geneabank 2

 

N.B. Nearly all of these lists are in numerical order by the number assigned to the department. Use the list in the left-hand column on this page to know the numbers of the departments.

In each case, if the region or department in which you are researching is not in that website's list, neither will your ancestor result in a search on that website. Save yourself confusion, frustration and time wasted. Verify that the website covers your department or region of interest before you start researching their database.

Forewarned is forearmed.

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Finding Early French Mennonites of Vosges and Haut-Rhin

 

Map compass

As those of you who have worked on this group will know already, this is a difficult patch of research territory. Briefly, because of their beliefs, their language differences (generally, they spoke German rather than French), and their separateness from the Catholic Church, documenting the Mennonites (known as Anabaptistes, and henceforward here as well) in France is difficult.[1]

  • Because they were pacifists, they do not appear in the excellent genealogical resource of military records
  • The territories were not French when they came to Montbéliard or Salm or Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; they were principalities that had to cooperate with France and that would one day be absorbed by France. Thus any archives pertaining to them in those places will be in France, but will be arranged according to the structure of the principality’s administration.
  • The Anabaptists were not keen on registration. Eventually, however, they did, in France, begin to register baptisms and marriages, especially at Montbéliard and in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, at the Reformed German Church. These registers are not, at the time of writing, online, though extracts from the latter are beginning to appear on Filae.
  • Most Anabaptists in the principalities were not permitted to own land but only to rent it. Some rental and even some sale agreements survive but the wealth of land registry records contains little or nothing concerning them.
  • The French did not begin a formal, national and regular census until 1836, far too late for the study of this group. However, certain Anabaptist censuses of the early eighteenth century in France survive, but they give little detail, being just a list of names of the men who headed families.
  • The Anabaptists rarely used notaires to formally document and register their agreements. They did not have marriage contracts, wills or inheritance issues. Disputes were resolved amongst themselves. The result is that an extremely rich resource is unlikely to be so rich for this type of research.

Thus, researching Anabaptists in French archives is quite a specialized pursuit and is very different from research into French Catholic families of the same time period and all of the wonderful resources we have oft described on this blog are pretty much useless.

Yet, we see no reason to give up. We have struggled with them before, in Montbéliard, and we most recently have soldiered on in the archives of Vosges and Haut-Rhin.

In the Departmental Archives of Vosges can be found the archives of the Principality of Salm, one of the states that gave refuge to Anabaptists on the run from less welcoming religious climes. It is not a huge collection; the entire list is on not many pages in a single binder. In the late eighteenth century, the territory became French and all relating to the same people and places will suddenly be in French records.

A few suggestions for where to look, based on where we have found success:

  • In 1790, when the Revolutionary government sold off biens nationaux, the property taken from churches, the crown and nobility, you will occasionally find Anabaptist farmers buying the property they had been renting. Begin with the principality’s lease records, then look not only in the biens nationaux lists but in notarial records for the sale, the acte de vente.
  • Anabaptists may have been officially tolerated, but they were not always so in every corner of the principality. It seems that, if they broke laws or customs, they were very likely to have been prosecuted for it while, in the same situation, a local person might have received a warning. (Sadly, this ignorant suspicion of all persons foreign has not yet disappeared from modern humanity.) So, a trawl through the judicial records during the period when your ancestor was alive may bring some interesting discoveries.

In the Departmental Archives of Vosges, we came across no census of Anabaptists such as the well-known 1703 and 1708 listings of Anabaptists in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines (much copied all over the Internet).

In the Departmental Archives of Haut-Rhin, the documents in Series E relating to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines are chaotically arranged, even after a few attempts have visibly altered the finding aids, but they contain nuggets. In addition to the census returns mentioned above, we found:

  • A 1732 census of inhabitants by religion, including Anabaptists.
  • A carton full of individual requests by Anabaptists to be allowed to settle in the Seigneurie de Ribeaupierre. Each one tells a story, each is in German, and each has the same representative’s or agent’s signature at the bottom.
  • One fine family’s names and relationships all listed in a certificat de bonne meours (saying they were exemplary citizens) issued to them when due to the 1712 expulsion issued by Louis XIV being enforced in the seigneurie as well, they had to leave. The wording is quite touching; clearly, they would be missed.

Further Reading

It will be hard work but always interesting.

 

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 

[1] Séguy, Les Assemblées, pp.15-19.


Join Our Online Course - First Steps in French Genealogy

VIGR

Our most recent long silence is due to our refining and perfecting the lectures we will be giving online via the VIGR, entitled First Steps in French Genealogy. We will explain in detail over four lectures how to begin your research into your French ancestry and how to use online resources. This is aimed at the beginning researcher but as we will have the luxury of time, we will be able to include many hints and details that will help even the most advanced researcher the better to interpret and use the registrations. Please do sign up now and join us!