MSS-027-Dissecting a French-Canadian Burial Record

Episode 027-January 20, 2015

French-Canadian researchers have it so good compared to many other ethnic groups thanks to the prolific recordkeeping of the Catholic priests and missionaries. We have access to vital records that some others can only dream of.

We’ve already dissected a baptism and a marriage record. So today the burial record gets its turn. To be better prepared, Language Tip # 27 will cover words and terms found in burial records.

French-Canadian News

NERGC-French-Canadian Topics


Maple Stars and Stripes News

Maple Stars and Stripes episodes will be released approximately every three weeks from here on. I am hoping to use the extra time to produce other items of interest to French-Canadian researchers.

Language Tip #27- Terms and Phrases Found in Burial Records

With burial records arguably being the easiest of the three records to decipher, even if you can’t read French well, knowledge of a few key words and phrases will make it so much easier.

All burial records begin with the date, so please refer back to episode 13 and become familiar with numbers and dates first. The other most common words follow:

Burial terms















Dissecting a French-Canadian Burial Record

The basic parts of a burial record are:

  • Date
  • Name of the deceased
  • Occupation, if an adult
  • Relationship to parents or spouse
  • Day of death and age
  • Names of witnesses
  • Signatures

Sample Record

Each priest wrote the name of each subject of the baptism, marriage or burial record in the margin for quick reference. He usually wrote a B above the name for a baptism, M for marriage, and S for burial (sépulture). Occasionally, instead of the S for burial, he wrote a cross, as seen in the record below.

Burial record of Marie Louise Picard dite Destroismaisons

Image from


The phrases in this record are in the chart below. The handwriting is beautiful, so it should be easy to pick out each word or phrase.

Terms found in burial record















After an adult male’s name, you will often see his occupation. After a child you will see “fils de” or “fille de,” son or daughter of, followed by the names of the parents.

Where to Find Burial Records

Quiz Yourself

Once you think you’ve grasped the terms and layout of a burial record, try your hand at deciphering a complete record. Can you pick out the vital information?

MSS Newsletter

Be sure to sign up for your copy of the Maple Stars and Stripes newsletter and receive your free copy of the “Key to the Repertory,” a guide to the printed PRDH. The newsletter will be our main, consistent form of communication.

Online Educational Offer – 10-Day free Trial

For the past year, I have learned so much by consuming course after course at Thirty-nine courses and many, many videos later, I can highly recommend this program as a wonderful way to learn all kinds of things that will make life a bit easier: how to use your iDevices, your new camera, Microsoft Office, Facebook, how to finally learn to use Evernote for your genealogy research. These are not genealogy courses, but courses that help us learn all the software and hardware that we use to conduct our genealogy.

Because I believe in it so completely, I wrote them requesting to be an affiliate so I can bring these courses to you through a special offer – a 10-day free trial, time to look through their catalog of courses, to try some, and see how much it will make the technology side of your life less stressful. If you decide to sign up for a monthly or annual subscription, I make a small commission. It helps the podcast, but it doesn’t cost you a cent more. Just remember to click through by using the banner below or in the sidebar. If you try it out, let me know what you think.


10-day free trial


Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage, now for Mac also

How to Contact Maple Stars and Stripes

Post comments on Show Notes page ( or at end of blog post

Go to

Email me at feedback [at] maplestarsandstripes [dot] com

Send a voicemail by clicking on the ‘Send Voicemail’ link from any page at


2 comments on “MSS-027-Dissecting a French-Canadian Burial Record

  1. Suzanne Boivin Sommerville

    Thanks, Sandra. May I add that people were also buried within the church itself instead of in the cemetery. Most often this was a distinct honor, but I have also read that individuals could pay to have this privilege. For some of the names of places inside the church where people were buried at St. Anne du Detroit, see my one page article

    1. Maple Stars and Stripes

      Thanks, Suzanne. When we were visiting I believe it was L’Ange Gardien, the caretaker gave us a tour of the crypts. No direct line ancestors, but fascinating nonetheless.

Leave a Reply