MSS-013-Dissecting a French-Canadian Baptism Record

Episode 013-June 3, 2014

Today we’re going to take apart a French-Canadian baptism record phrase by phrase. The first step is learning to read French numbers because the records begin with the date written out. Then we cover other common words found in these documents.

Language Tip #13- French Dates

Since you’ll need to be able to read French numbers in order to understand dates, I recommend you practice using the following websites:

The French Language Blog- http://

A list of numbers from 1-100 and a video with the audio pronunciation


Practice the numbers with help from the following sections: flashcards, learn, speller, test, scatter, and space race. Practice or play games.’s French Language-

Number practice includes a random number generator.

French numbers can be more easily learned when they are grouped by commonalities.

Lesson 1-numbers 1-10

Lesson 1

Lesson 2- numbers 11-16

Lesson 2

Lesson 3-numbers 17-19

Add 7, 8, and 9 to the number 10.

Lesson 3

Lesson 4- the decades (20, 30, 40, 50, 60)

Lesson 4

Lesson 5-the funky decades (70, 80, 90)
  • 70 is 60 plus 10
  • 80 is 4 groups of 20
  • 90 is 4 groups of 20 plus 10
Lesson 5
Lesson 6-decades plus 1

Lesson 6

Lesson 7-decades plus singles

Lesson 7

Lesson 8-funky decades plus 1
  • 71 is 60 plus 11
  • 81 is 4 groups of 20 plus 1
  • 91 is 4 groups of 20 plus 11

Lesson 8

Lesson 9-funky decades plus singles
  • 77 is 60 plus 17
  • 88 is 4 groups of 20 plus 8
  • 99 is 4 groups of 20 plus 19

Lesson 9

Lesson 10-numbers 100 and 1,000

Lesson 10

Lesson 11-ordinal numbers

Lesson 11


Lesson 12

Date example- the 17 April 1874:

le      dix-sept             avril     mil                      huit cent              soixante-quatorze

the    seventeenth    April    one thousand       eight hundred    seventy-four

Click here to practice reading dates in actual parish records.

Dissecting a French-Canadian Baptism Record

The priests followed a basic format for all baptism, marriage, and burial records. Once you are familiar with the format for one, it is easy to read the others.

However, the further back in time you go, the more difficult it is to read the handwriting. Click here for a link to a PDF chart that lists the alphabet by capital and lowercase letters. When you have a document with handwriting that is difficult to read, copy letters from words you are sure of into the chart exactly the way the priest wrote them. It makes it easier to decipher the words you’re having trouble with. This is especially useful for capital letters.

Date variations:
  • Le dix huit septembre – the 18th of September
  • Ce dix huit septembre – this 18th of September
  • Aujourd’hui le dix-huit septembre – today the 18th of September
  • L’an mil sept cent treize le dix huit septembre – the year 1713 the 18th of September
  • par nous prêtre curé soussigné – by we the undersigned priest’
  • a été baptizé[e] – was baptised
Day of birth (né or née):
  • Aujourd’hui – today
  • Le même jour – the same day
  • Hier – yesterday
  • La veille – the day before
  • Avant hier – the day before yesterday
  • Après veille – two days ago

du légitime marriage de – of the legitimate marriage of [followed by father’s name and occupation)

Common occupations:
  • Cultivateur – cultivator or husbandman
  • Journalier – day laborer

Et de (d’) –and of [followed by name of mother]

  • Du lieu – of this place
  • De cette paroisse – of this parish
  • De or du [name of parish] – of [name of parish]
  • Parrain –godfather
  • Marrain – godmother

N’ont su signé – not able to sign

Baptism Record Line by Line


Baptism record sample

from St-Paul, Joliette, 1826


B   Lucile Langlois

Baptism  Lucile Langlois

Line 1 :

Aujourdhui le trois février mil huit cent vingt six par

Today the third of February 1826 by

Line 2:

Nous pretre soussigné a été baptizé Lucile née de ce jour

We the undersigned priest was baptised Lucile born this day

Line 3:

fille de Jean Baptiste Langlois dit Lachapelle, cultivateur

daughter of Jean Baptiste Langlois dit Lachapelle, husbandman

Line 4:

de cette paroisse et de Marguerite Froment son epouse

of this parish and of Marguerite Froment his wife

Line 5:

Parrain Louis Froment, marraine Marie Anne Pa-

Godfather Louis Froment, godmother Marie Anne Pa-

Line 6:

rent qui n’ont su signer aussi que le père present

rent who could not sign the father being present

Line 7:

Jos M Bellenger, ptr

Jos M Bellenger, priest

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