Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History

Acadian Genealogy

The True Acadian Period: 1604-1755

     In Acadia and New France, which were under French law, notaries handled all civil matters.  These included mortgages, leases, land sales, loans, etc.  They also handled wills, marriage contracts, and tutorships.  Though it is easier to see the genealogical relevance of the latter group, useful information can also be gleaned from the former group as well.  A land sale might mention parents or children, for example.  Notarial records also help to illustrate the lives of our ancestors.  They add "color" to the raw data of names, dates, and places. For example, an aging parent might make out a deed of donation whereby they gave a child all of their belongings in exchange for being taken care of.
     Most of the notarial records from within Acadia have been lost.  Winston DeVille has compiled The Loppinet Papers, 1687-1710: Genealogical Abstracts of the Earliest Notarial Records for the Province of Acadia. No other 'Acadian' notarial records have survived. Since the "big city" in Canada was Quebec, some Acadians did have dealings that brought them to that area. So you may find some Acadian records mixed in with other French-Canadian material.
     There is a multi-volume set of simple abstracts of Quebec notaries published by the Quebec government.  Quintin Publications carries some in book form, some microfiche, and in CD-ROM version.  They carry 2 CD-ROMs with notarial information.  One CD-ROM contains Inventaire des Greffes des Notaires de la Regime Francaise ... over 65,000 simple abstracts of records.  If you find something interesting and need more details, you can then request a copy of the act from the Archives.  They also have a CD-ROM that contains Inventaire des Contrats de Mariage du Regime Francais Conserves aux Archives Judiciaires de Quebec (6 volumes) and Inventaire des Testaments, Donations et Inventaires du Regime Francais Conserves aux Archives Judiciaires de Quebec (3 volumes).  This CD has over 21,000 simple abstracts of records. A book Notaries of French Canada, 1626 - 1900 by Quintin Publications lists the notaries of French Canada by notary, by time period, and by area served.
     Also, you can access 30,000 old Quebec notary records (1635-1765) online at Banque le Parchemin.  Of course, this is just a small fraction of the over 3 million records produced in that period.  They are working on putting all of the records on CD-ROM.  But the collection (currently with 250,000 abstracts) is not for sale; it can be rented (for about $2000 a year!).  If you're in the Northeast U.S., the American-Canadian Genealogical Society in Manchester, New Hampshire rents a copy of the database.  The Society also provides a service which will do the research for you and send you a printout.  Their charges are: members - $5 a search + $1 per page, non-members - $10 a search + $2 per page.  Several places in Canada also rent a copy of the database.  Eastman's Genealogy Newsletter reviewed the Parchemin in spring 1998.  As an example of the data recorded (all in French), a search for "Pierre Hebert" turned up the following marriage contract for one of the Acadian Heberts.
Le Parchemin, 25 Janvier 1755 (Mtl)
Aumasson de Courville, L.-L. (1754-1781)

Contrat de mariage entre Pierre Hebert, fils de Jacques Hebert et de Anne Arsenault, de la baie Verte; et Jeanne Bernard, fille de René Bernard, habitant et de Anne Blou, demeurant à la Prez des Bourg.

Doc #: 17550125PA014194
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