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  Terms - Phrases - Translations - Abbreviations - Quips (Genealogy Humor) 

["dit" Names]  [Ier- date]  [Preponderance of Names]  [rehabilitation]
[Translations & Numbers]  [Name Abbreviations[Quips]

"dit" Names
Rita Elise Plourde (1)

There are two reasons why there are so many variant spellings of some names.

First: most of the citizens of the 1600-1800 were illiterate. Of these, a precious few could sign their names.  However, the priests, seminarians, missionaries, monks & nuns were the most educated groups in the citizenry.  Only an elite few were educated beyond what we, today, would consider a basic elementary education. 

Consequently, many of the clerics & notories, who under the French system of administration were charged with recording "vital statistics" wrote the names as they knew them to be in France, as a precious few of the immigrants/colonists signed them, or as they heard them (phonetically). 

That is why one sees Garau, Garrault, Gareau,Garo, etc... even amongst the sons of a particualr ancestor.  A good example are the descendants of Louis Houde...some of the variant spellings found are: Houd, Houle, Ould, Houde, Hood, etc.

The second reason for variant spellings is: As the colonists migrated within
Nouvelle France/New France & eventually beyond the areas of French-speaking
Canada ( ex. to current-day USA, the Caribbean, the West Indies, etc.) recorders of "vital statistics" who were not French speakers, usually spelled names phonetically, or changed them because they didn't have a clue how to write them. 

(Ex. Rochefort became Rushfort in the Carolinas, Champagne became Shampang, Thibodeaux became Thibodo, or Tibodo. LeBrun was changed to Brown & Leblanc to White, etc.etc.)

The "dit" names have an interesting origin. The English translation of "dit" is "said".  The Colonists of Nouvelle France added "dit" names as distinguishers. A settler might have wanted to differentiate their family from their siblings by taking a "dit" name that described the locale to which they had relocated ( ex: since the Colonists followed the customs of the French feudal system, land was divided amongst the first born sons [primogeniture] . Soon there was not enough land to divide any further.

Perhaps an adventurous younger son would decide to establish himself, with or without a family, in another area... say a fertile piece of land near some streams... he might add des ruisseaux (streams/creeks/rivulets) to distinguish himself from his brothers.  When he married, or died, his name might be listed as Houde dit DesRuisseaux, or Desruisseau(s).

The acquiring of a "dit" name might also be the result of a casual adoption, whereby the person wanted to honor the family who had raised them. Another reason was also to distinguish themselves by taking as a "dit" name the town or village in France from which they originated... ex: Huret dit Rochefort.

Incidentally, the Huret/Huret dit Rochefort surname is seen with the variants of Uret/Huret/Hurette/Duret/Durette/Luret/Lurette singly, or coupled with  "dit Rochefort" ... oftentimes within the same family group.


Ier - date
Rita Elise Plourde (1)

Ier(month)year  is the abbreviation for the French "premier" "first". When written as part of a date, it means the First of (month)year. i.e: Ier fev 1670 translates as 1FEB1670.  Months are not capitalized in French & February(Feb) is fevrier(fev) in French.  Most Western & European languages write the dates as day/Month/year.... in the USA, the custom is Mo/Day/yr.  Nouvelle France(New France), Quebec,New Brunswick & Acadia followed/follows the European custom.


Preponderance of Names
Rita Elise Plourde (1)

The preponderance of the names Joseph & Marie, or combinations with such, in the records.(ex. Joseph Charles, Joseph Francois, Marie Jeanne, Marie Marguerite, etc.).

It was/is the practice amongst the Catholics of the French & Hispanic cultures ( note the numbers of Jose & Maria amid the Spanish-speakers) to honor Joseph, or Mary, by giving the baptized child the honorary name in addition to the given (first) name. 

The French-Canadians have slowly& slightly changed the practice by using the honorary names as middle names.

All of the Franco-Canadian & Franco-American men who entered the military
service, with the name of Joseph preceeding their "first name", were registered as "Joseph". The Government reasoned that since it was the first name listed on their baptismal certificate, it was therefore their "legal" first name. 

Myth has it that such was the origin of the ubiquitous GI Joe. (I have no definitive proof of the latter claim. Consequently, that is why I state that "myth has it..").


Rita Elise Plourde (1)

In Nouvelle France, when a Catholic married an indigenous person (indigene, autochone, metis, etc.), in a ceremony without a Catholic priest, or missionary, such a marriage, contracted outside the jurisdiction/blessing of the Catholic Church, was declared invalid. 

The non-Catholic spouse (usually the woman) was listed, in the records/repetoires as a "savage" (ex: la sauvagesse) and all their children were considered as being illegitimate under the eyes of the Church & the Law/State. 

Should the "savage" spouse accept Catholicism & be baptized, (s)he was often given a saint's name, as a baptismal name; vows were repeated before a priest & the marriage was then "rehabilitated" and became valid. (The US term is "blessed"....."Le mariage fut beni.") The "savage" children of that union then became legitimate and the rights of inheritance were restored. 

Another type of recording found in the marriage records (even in the Quebec of the early 1800s) concerns marriages that were performed long distances from established settlements, by itinerant missionaries. Whenever the missionaries returned to a village with a Catholic Church, they would register the marriages & rehabilitations performed during their tour of the remote outposts. Such a practice is the result of the recording of the registration date, rather than the performance date in the official registers/repetoires... a date that may differ by months, or years, of the actual date. 

Examples can be found in the repetoires of St. Louis de Blanford.


Contributors to Terms - Phrases

Rita Elise Plourde (1) is a member of AFGS and contributor of cultural, or historical comments in response to the queries posed by volunteers in the AFGS Volunteers mailing list. 

She is a bilingually educated ( K thru college) Franco-American anthropologist, who was raised in a multicultural environment.  Rita continues to explore, examine & extol the culture of her French/Acadian/Quebecois ancestors & contemporary relatives. 

Her primary aim as an AFGS member is the sharing of information & research regarding her French/Acadian/Quebecois ancestors, their culture & their legacy.

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Updated 7 September, 2009

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