MSS-022- Dissecting a French-Canadian Marriage Record

Episode 022-October 21, 2014

As we did with baptism records in episode #13, today we look at the components of a marriage record. In Language Tip #22, we cover some of the common French words or phrases found in most marriage records. In the main segment, we inspect the record segment by segment, covering some of the variations you might find.

French-Canadian News

French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Vermont Genealogy Library in Colchester, Vermont

  • October 25, 10:30 AM; $5.00 fee: ‘Google Your Family Tree’ with Ed McGuire
  • November 1: ‘Genealogical Research Methods’ with Joanne Polanchek
  • November 8: ‘How to Find that Missing Ancestor’ with Tom Devarney
  • Special interest groups on Scottish, New York, Irish, genetic, English, and German genealogy also meet on either Tuesday evenings or Saturday afternoons. See schedule.

American French Genealogical Society of Woonsocket, RI

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Listener Joe wrote: “My French ancestors came to Philadelphia via St. Domingue between 1793 and 1795. Is there a French American organization such as yours devoted to the French immigrants who came here via the southern route?” St. Domingue is referred to as the French Santo Domingo located on the western side of the island of Hispaniola and eventually became Haiti.

Joe is specifically trying to find out if it was common practice for the father of an illegitimate child to be named as godfather on old French baptism records.

There is a St. Domingue special interest group associated with the New Orleans library, and Joe had been in touch with them a few years ago. But if any of our listeners have knowledge of this practice or know of any other resources that might help Joe, please let us know in the show notes for this episode.

Language Tip #22-Terms and Phrases Found in Marriage Records

Marriage records, as was the case with baptism and burial records, followed a particular formula with occasional changes due to time period or location. However, there are more opportunities for variation in these records as compared to baptism or burial records due to the inherent complexity.

After the date (see episodes 13 & 14), marriage records will give the groom’s information followed by that of the bride. That information will usually include name, residence, whether he or she has reached the age of majority, occupation for men, parents’ names, parents’ residence, and a notation indicating that one or both parents are deceased, if applicable. If it is not the first marriage for either the bride or groom, it will say that he or she is widowed followed by the name of the deceased spouse. Look for the words in the chart below in this portion of each marriage record.

Common Terms in French-Canadian Marriage Records

Common Terms in French-Canadian Marriage Records















After the priest recorded that he had married the couple, he then listed the witnesses. Names were sometimes followed by relationship to the bride or groom and occasionally occupation for the men. To translate occupations, see the Collins French Dictionary online at or the Occupations & Trades in New France page on Lucie LeBlanc Consentino’s wonderful Acadian site at See the chart below for common relationships.

Common Family Relationships

Common Family Relationships









Dissecting a French-Canadian Marriage Record

To walk through a typical marriage record, I will use the record produced when Joseph Parent married Amanda Forgues. (Images from


Parent-Forgues Marriage

Parent-Forgues Marriage


Let’s start with the date.

If you need a refresher, go back to episodes 13 and 14. Otherwise, can you read this?

Marriage date

Marriage date




It says,

  • “Le trois Novembre………….mil huit cent…………………….quatre vingt dix-sept”
  • “The third of November….one thousand eight hundred…ninety-seven”

Now for the boilerplate:

Marriage bans

Marriage bans





  • “…après la publication….de trois bans de mariage….”
  • “…after the publication..of three bans of mariage….”
  • “…faite au prône………………….de notre messe paroissiale,”
  • “…made during the sermon…of our parish mass,”

We now find out the details pertaining to the groom:

Groom's info

Groom’s info






  • “…entre Joseph Parent…”
  • “…between Joseph Parent…”


  • “…fils mineur de Prospère Parent, cultivateur,”
  • “…minor son of Prospère Parent, cultivator,”
  • “…et de défunte Olivine Lévèque,”
  • “…and of the deceased Olivine Lévèque,”
  • “…de cette paroisse d’une part…”
  • “of this parish, of one part…”

And now the bride’s info:

Bride's info

Bride’s info






  • “…et Amanda Forgues,”
  • “…and Amanda Forgues,”
  • “…fille mineure de feu Napoléon Forgues,”
  • “…minor daughter of the deceased Napoléon Forgues,”
  • “…et de Pulchérie Lévèque,”
  • “…and of Pulchérie Lévèque,”
  • “…aussi de cette paroisse d’autre part;”
  • “…also of this parish of the other part;”

More boilerplate:








  • “…ne s’étant découvert…”
  • “…not having found…”
  • “…aucun empêchement au dit mariage…”
  • “…any impediment to the said marriage…”
  • “…et du consentement des parents…”
  • “…and with the consent of the parents…”
  • “…des parties mineures,”
  • “…of the minor parties,”

The blessing:








  • “Nous prêtre, curé soussigné,”
  • “We [the collective ‘we’ used by many priests] the undersigned parish priest,”
  • “…avons reçu leur mutuel consentement de mariage,”
  • “…having received their mutual consent of marriage,”
  • “…et leur avons donné la bénédiction nuptiale…”
  • “…and having given them the nuptial blessing…”

Witnesses and signatures:

Witnesses & Signatures

Witnesses & Signatures







  • “…en présence de Prospère Parent, père de l’époux soussigné,”
  • “…in the presence of Prospère Parent, father of the groom who signed,”
  • “…et de Camille Rivet, beau-père de l’épouse,”
  • “…and of Camille Rivet, step-father of the bride,”
  • “…qui ainsi que l’époux ont déclaré ne savoir signer.”
  • “…who as with the groom declared not knowing how to sign.”
  • “L’épouse sousignée. Lecture faite.”
  • “The bride signed. Reading made.” [The record was read aloud to all present.]

Signature of spouses or witnesses:

  • Amanda Forgues
  • Prospère Parent
  • Signature of priest:
  • Laferrière, ptre Curé (parish priest)

Now, that’s a basic record.

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Sometimes you will find one that has other information interspersed. Can you read these?









  • “Après la publication des trois bans de mariage faite le premier, quinzième et vingt deuxième du mois d’aoust,”
  • “After the publication of three bans of marriage made the first, fifteenth, and twenty-second day of the month of August.”

Follow along. These are the sections of records mentioned in the podcast:

Typical bans

Typical bans


  • “après la publication de trois bans de mariage faites aux prônes de nos messes paroissiales”
  • “after the publication of three bans of marriage made during the sermon of our parish mass”
Consecutive bans

Consecutive bans





  • “…après la publication de trois bans de mariage faite par trois dimanches consecutifs…”
  • “…after the publication of three bans of marriage made during three consecutive Sundays…”

From the marriage record of François Parent and Arméline Piquette, indicating the dispensation granted by the Archbishop of Montreal:

Parent-Piquette marriage

Parent-Piquette marriage






From the marriage record of Moise Girard and Virginie Bastien:

Girard-Bastien marriage

Girard-Bastien marriage





  • “Après la publication de deux bans de mariage faite sans opposition quelconque”
  • “After the publication of two bans of marriage made without any opposition whatsoever”
Girard-Bastien marriage

Girard-Bastien marriage






  • “…la dispense d’un ban ayant été accordée par Monseigneur des Trois-Rivières…”
  • “…the dispensation of one ban having been granted by the Monseigneur of Trois-Rivières…”

Very specific dates for the reading of the bans, from the marriage record of René Pelletier and Marie Magdelaine Leclerc:

Pelletier-Leclerc marriage

Pelletier-Leclerc marriage






  • “…après la publication des trois bans de mariage faites le jour de la feste des Sts Simon et Jude, le jour de la feste de tous les Sts et le Dimanche suivant…”
  • “…after the publication of three bans of marriage made the day of the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, the day of the Feast of All the Saints, and the following Sunday…”

Then there was the marriage record of Jean Collet and Jeanne Dechard where Jean’s military affiliation is given in detail:

Collet-Dechard marriage

Collet-Dechard marriage






  • “…le mariage de Jean Collet soldat de la Compagnie de Monsr Petit Capitan dans le Regimt de Carignan Sallière…”
  • “…the marriage of Jean Collet soldier in the company of Monsieur Petit, Captain in the Carignan-Sallière Regiment…”


Quiz Yourself!

Now try your hand at deciphering a French-Canadian marriage record. Be sure to check your answers, and if you’d like, post your results in the comments.

Where to Find Images of French-Canadian Marriage Records Online

FamilySearch-Quebec Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 (free)

For record description and how to use the records:,Catholic_Parish_Registers(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)

For missing/out-of-place records:,Catholic_Parish_Registers(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)/Known_Issues

LaFrance Collection ($$)-

Marriage records from the beginning to 1913 at

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15 comments on “MSS-022- Dissecting a French-Canadian Marriage Record

  1. William St Cyr

    Hello, can anyone help me with the parents of my great grand parents? Also the correct spelling of Elizer? Thank you!

  2. Sandra Goodwin

    Hi William-Elzéar’s parents are Antoine Tanguay and Desanges Dorval; Marie Rosanna’s parents are André Fortin and Basilice Drouin. Wasn’t sure which ones you were looking for.

  3. William St. Cyr

    Thank you! I can’t read cursive, I can only make out the names of those who are getting married within the paragraph. Can you also find the parents of Joseph Dionne? I have Lumena’s parents as Augustin Dancause & Emelie Saucier. Thank you!

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Hi William- I’m afraid I don’t have time to do research for other people. If I did, I’d never get out the next episode of MSS. :-)Perhaps someone will see this and be able to help. But I’m sure they’d need more info anyhow. There must be hundreds of Joseph Dionnes!

  4. William St. Cyr

    I understand, but I thought the information was within that record?

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Sorry William. I accessed your question from the back end of the website, and the image wasn’t there. You must have been very confused by my answer!!!!! This is much better now that I can see it. 🙂
      Joseph’s parents are Joseph Dionne and Hermine Gastonguay.

  5. William St. Cyr

    You are amazing, I don’t know how you can read this stuff. I got confused with this record as Joseph Dionne was repeated.

  6. William St. Cyr

    Okay, so I got the parents of Ludger as Philippe Grimard & Flore Paradis but his wife Rosanna I can only make out the father as George Fortin, I can’t make out her mother?

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Hi William-It’s Mathilde Simoneau. Did you notice the word ‘feu’ in front of both mothers’ names? That means they were both deceased at the time of the wedding.

  7. William St. Cyr

    Didn’t notice that! Thank you for all your help!

  8. Margo Worden

    I am new to this wonderful sight. Last night I was hand copying French Translation numbers and words. I got as far as Youngsters and cannot find the sight, HELP? Thanks

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      Hi Margo-Welcome to Maple Stars and Stripes. If you were going over the words for youngsters, then you were probably in episode #28. Let me know if you need more help.

  9. Carol

    Hi! I wonder if you’ve seen a # sign in a marriage record and if so, what meaning it may have? Thanks!

      1. Sandra Goodwin

        Carol had trouble posting the document, so she sent it to me personally. The # symbol was used as a location indicator for an error. This method was also used in notary records. The priest or clerk left out some words in the record and used a # to indicate the location. Then he put a # sign and the missing words in the margin.

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