Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tackling the Québec Drouin Collection for English Speakers - Part 4

This is a continuation of a series of "how-to" for English speakers to more easily decipher the Québec Drouin Collection records (although it may help you in other French records as well).  Part 1 of the series can be read here.

Through this series of posts, I will cover determining the type of event, the dates of the events recorded (baptism, marriage burial), the dates of birth and death for baptism and burial records, the individual's name, the individual's marital status, the individual's spouse or parents' names, and where the event occurred, among other facts.

If you have any questions (in general or specific to your research), corrections, additions, or anything else, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me directly!

Marriage Records

Marriage date

Marriage records generally start with the date of marriage, written out.  Sometimes other dates will be listed in a paragraph of information after the marriage date and before the spouse names; these are dates that marriage banns were published, prior to the marriage date, and you can ignore them.  Stick with the date that starts off the record.

I'm going to skip over the information sometimes available directly after the marriage date in favor of what I consider more important information.  My French skills aren't good enough to determine what some of it is, and I assume the officiating Priest is the one whose signature is at the end of the record.  If you'd like more details, I suggest using an online translation tool.

Names of the couple, their parents, and/or most recent spouse

After recording the marriage date, I skim down to where I see the word "entre," in this case meaning "enters."  Immediately following "entre" are the groom's given and surnames.  A little bit after the groom's name will usually be either "fils majeur de," meaning "of age son of" or "fils mineur de," meaning "underage son of," followed immediately by the groom's father's given and surnames as well as the groom's mother given and maiden names.  In most cases, the groom's parents names are only included if this is the groom's first marriage.  Otherwise, after the groom's name the record will say "veuf de," or "widower of" (as there are no divorces in the Catholic Church), and the given and maiden names of the groom's most recent spouse.  Thus, if the record is for the groom's third marriage, only his second wife's name will be provided.

After the information about the groom and his parents, you should find "et," meaning "and," followed by the bride's given and maiden names.  Then the bride's age status is given by "fille majeure de," meaning "of age daughter of," or "fille mineure de," meaning "underage daughter of."  Like for the groom, these phrases lead to the bride's father's given and surnames then the bride's mother's given and maiden names, but usually only if this is the bride's first marriage.  If the bride was previously married, instead the record will most likely say "veuve de," or "widow of," followed by the given and surnames of the bride's last husband.

Ages and occupations

On occasion, the groom and bride's specific ages at the time of marriage will be included in the record.  Look for "à l'âge de [age in number of years, written out] ans," which means "at the age of [age] years."

The groom and his or his bride's father may have one word after their names describing their profession, such as "cultivateur," which means "farmer."  This is the profession I usually come across in my research, but others appear, too.  If you see a lone word immediately after a male's name, I suggest using Google search to determine its meaning because it is likely a profession.


Where a bride, groom, or parents live at the time of marriage is often recorded.  If it is, it will almost immediately follow the individual or parents' name(s) and will begin with "de," meaning "of."  Most commonly, the bride and/or the groom will be married in the parish in which he or she resides.  The phrase "de cette paroisse" after a name means "of this parish."  It indicates the aforementioned individual or couple (if parents) reside in the parish in which the record is kept.  If an individual or parents live elsewhere, however, you may see "de la paroisse St(e)-[insert parish name here]" or simply "de [parish name]" to indicate their residence.  

Many smaller communities in Québec have the same name as the church or parish name because there was only one church at the time.  In larger cities, such as the capital of Québec, there are multiple churches, and the parish will provide a good indication of what area of the city people listed in the record lived in.


Towards the end of some marriage records, witnesses' names and familial relationships to the couple are listed after the phrase, "en présence de," or "in the presence of."  A witness's relationship to the bride or groom follows the witness's name and is phrased like "uncle of the wife."  In French, "l'époux" means "the husband," and "l'épouse" means "the wife."

Some key points to note:

  • Marriage banns, or "trois banns de mariage" as they are referred to in the church records, are a series of three announcements of an upcoming marriage required in the Catholic Church before a marriage can take place.  They provide notice of the marriage in the parish as a way to allow anyone with information that would prevent the marriage from being solemnized to come forward with that information.
  • On rare occasion, the marriage record may include both the names of a previous spouse and of the individual's parents.  This is highly unusual though, so you will need to locate any previous marriage records using deceased spouse names until you find the individual's first marriage in order to learn (or confirm) his/her parents' names.
  • If you see "defunct" or "feu" preceding a parent or prior spouse's name, this simply means "deceased."  It can be excluded from prior spouses' names because "veuf" or "veuve" already indicates the most recent spouse is deceased (not to mention the plain fact that there is another marriage).  However, noting this for a bride or groom's parent will help you narrow down possible death years for the parent.
  • Residence or parish information can provide good leads for locating baptism and burial records.  A bride or groom's residence at the time of marriage is often the same parish he/she was baptized in if the record is of his/her first marriage.  If this is not the first marriage, then it is sometimes the same parish his/her previous spouse was buried in.  If a bride or groom's parent is deceased, the listed parish for that parent couple will often be the one where the deceased parent (or parents if both have passed) was buried.
  • At times, marriage records will say "aussi de cette paroisse" when stating residence.  "Aussi" means "too" or "also," so be careful to interpret previous individuals' parishes appropriately.


  1. You are the ideal person to be explaining French-Canadian research to English speakers! Refreshing your past French language skills has surely helped you include more of the special tips your readers really need.
    It is possible that "entre" in FC marriage records means "between" the groom and bride, since their marriage is a legal contract. The book French-Canadian Sources [Geyh et al, 2002] has a great vocabulary of FC words & phrases.

  2. Thank you! I hadn't considered that "entre" is "between," and I will definitely look into the book you recommended!

    1. Thank you! This is brilliant!

    2. Just wow! Hehe..I was just a giggling when I came across your site..I was trying to figure out this drouin collection language. I didn't know that I would have to take language lessons in order to create my family tree. hehe THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.