TRANSLATION GUIDE FOR QUÉBEC CATHOLIC PARISH RECORDS
This is a general guide for translating Québec Parish Records from French to English. Not all Parish Records for Baptismal, Burial, or Marriage Acts read the same, but there is enough similarity, and formularity, that most genealogists can take an educated guess as to the contents. The following are examples of how Parish Records read, and an English version to help guide you along the way. We will start with Baptismal and Burial Acts since they are the shortest and least variable.
Le quinze aout, mil sept cent onze, par nous prêtres soussigné ont baptisé Louis, née (aujourdui, hier, l’avant-veille, la semaine dernière) du légitime mariage de Joseph Dandurand, agriculture, de cette paroisse de St-Joseph-de-Lévis, et de Marie Levesque. Le parrain est Louis Dandurand, oncle de la mère, et la marraine est Marie Gagné, cousine du père, qui n’a déclaré ne pouvoir signer. Le père est absent.
Roland Doucette, Ptr.
Fifteenth of August, one thousand seven hundred eleven, we undersigned priests baptized Louis, born (today, last evening, last week) of the legitimate marriage of Joseph Dandurand, farmer from this parish of St- Joseph of Lévy, and Marie Levesque. The godfather is Louis Dandurand, uncle of the mother, and the godmother is Marie Gagné, cousin of the father, who declared unable to sign. The father is absent.
Roland Doucette, Priest
Le quatorze mai mil cent soixante-dix, nous prêtres soussigné ont inhumé dans le cimetière de cette paroisse, le corps de Marie Tremblay, décédé (hier soir, l’avant jour, de trois jour) veuve de feu André Audet, a l’âge d’environ quatre-vingt-cinq. Présent était Joseph Autotte et Julien Joyal, qui ont déclaré ne savoir signer. Aussi présent était Joseph Audet, son garçon, qui a signé avec nous.
Joseph Audet Fernand Noël Ptr.
The fourteenth May, one thousand seventy, we undersigned priests have buried in the parish cemetery, the body of Marie Tremblay, who died (last evening, yesterday, three days ago), widow of deceased André Audet, at the approximate age of eighty-five. Present were Jospeph Autotte and Julien Joyal, who declared unable to sign. Also present was Joseph Audet, her son, who signed with us.
Joseph Audet Fernand Noël, Priest
Le cinq avril mil sept cent trois, nous prêtres soussigné, après avoir fait trois bans de mariage dans la prône de les messes de cette paroisse, en trois dimanche suivante, et après avoir reçu les dispenses de M. Charland, Évêque du Québec, pour trois degré de consanguinité, entre Émile, fils majeur et cultivateur de la paroisse de St-Rémi-de-Yamachiche, fils de Évariste Lambert, son père, et Jacqueline Boucher, sa mère, de la paroisse de St-Germain-de-La Rochelle, Normandie, France d’une partie, et de Geneviève, fille mineur de Flavien Magnan, marchant, et de Antoinette Lemay, de la paroisse de Hanc, Charente, France, de l’autre partie, et après avoir reçu leur mutuel consent de mariage, leur ont donné la bénédiction de mariage avec les cérémonies de notre Sainte Mère Église, Romain et Apostolique, dans la présence de Robert Lambert, frère de l’époux, Joseph Naudet, Capitaine de Milice, ami de l’époux, Marie Françoise de Frontigny, cousine de l’épouse, Judith Lamy, amie de l’épouse, et plusieurs autre parentés et amis de la couple. Ceux qui pouvaient ont signé avec nous.
Geneviève Magna Judith Lamy Joseph Naudet Hermenegilde Laforest, Ptr.
The fifth of April, one thousand seven hundred seventy-three, we undersigned priests, after having made three bans of marriage in the midst of our parish masses on three consecutive Sundays, and after having received the dispensation for three degrees of consanguinity from Mr. Charland, Bishop of Québec, between Émile, adult son and farmer of the parish of St-Rémi-de-Yamachiche, son of Évariste Lambert, his father, and Jacqueline Boucher, of the parish of St-Germain-de-La Rochelle, France, of the one part, and of Geneviève, minor daughter of Flavien Magnan, merchant, and of Antoinette Lemay, of the parish of Hanc, Charente, France, of the other part, and after having received their mutual consent of marriage, gave them the nuptial benediction in accordance with the ceremonies of our Holy Mother Church, Roman and Apostolic, in the presence of Robert Lambert, brother of the groom, Joseph Naudet, Militia Captain, friend of the groom, Marie Françoise Frontigny, cousin of the bride, and Judith Lamy, friend of the bride, and many other relatives and friends of the couple. Those who could sign have done so.
Geneviève Magnan Judith Lamy Joseph Naudet Herménégilde Laforest, Priest
Obviously, the names and places shown in these translations are fictitious and do not represent real persons or places. Additionally, the author attempted to replicate the most common forms found in Québec records. These examples should cover about 80% of what exists. If you need a precise translation of a record, please contact the American-Canadian Genealogical Society’s Research Department for assistance. Just click on the Research tab on this site’s menu, and you will find what you need to start a research project.
The above information is the property of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society of NH, Inc., which has all of the copyright protection of the United States of America. No publication of this material is allowed without the express written permission of the owner; however, the researcher may use it for personal use, if properly cited in any documents or on electronic media.
 The French version will contain many syntax and punctuation errors, but that is the way they were written. For example, the priest uses plurals for undersigned, but only one priest signed the record.
 You will also see other relationships, such as frère/brother, soeur/sister, ami/amie/friend, etc.
 In the 1620’ s and through the 1700s, many people were illiterate and unable to sign documents. In the most affluent families, some of the females could write their names. The priest will note the record that “il/ils à/ont signé avec,” and their signatures will appear before the priest’s.
 At most burials, no family members were present, only the undertakers, who were named. Also, some of the ages shown at the date of death were guesses, especially if the person had no living relative, or the priest did not have access to the baptismal record because the person was baptized elsewhere.
 In some cases, the cause of death was noted, such as noyer = drowning, ancient/ancienne = aged, variole = smallpox, etc.
 These types of acts have the most variations in the formula. For the purpose of this example, the most usual form will be used. The basic information is present in most of these records, however, some records may have instances where special dispensations were requested from the Bishop due to consanguinity, or where proof of residence. They also do not conform to proper French grammar and syntax and have run-on sentences, which may be confusing to some readers.