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Cyprien Tanguay's Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes (Genealogical Dictionary of French Canadian Families) is an important source for Québec research. The seven-volume dictionary gives the genealogy of most of the French Canadian colonists and many of their descendants. Records are from the late 1500s to about 1800.
A supplement to Tanguay's Dictionnaire is J.-Arthur Leboeuf, Complément au dictionnaire généalogique Tanguay (Supplement to Tanguay's Genealogical Dictionary), 4 vols. (Montréal, families are traced to the late 1800s. Series 3 is the most complete but is not available on microfilm.
Information in the Dictionary
The information given in an entry may include:
Names of the husband and his wife (or wives). Names of the fathers of the husband and wife. Names of the children. Names of the children's spouses. Christening dates and places. Marriage dates and places. Burial dates and places. Generations of the husband and wife from their immigrant ancestors. Often, an immigrant's exact place of origin in France.
Organization of the Dictionary
Entries are in alphabetical order by the husband's name. A year in large, bold numbers indicates the beginning of a new record. (It is the year of the husband's first marriage.) The entry is a record of the husband's marriages and children.
Common Terms and Abbreviations
For the English translation of common French genealogical terms and abbreviations, see “Key Words” in the “Language and Languages” section of this outline.
Names and Film Numbers
People married from 1608 to 1700 are in:
Volume Number film number Vol. 1. 105970 item 1
People married after 1700 are in:
Volume Number film number Vol. 2. Abel to Chapuy 105970 item 2 Vol. 3. Charbonneau to Eziero 105971 item 1 Vol. 4. Fabas–Jinines 105971 item 2 Vol. 5. Joachim–Mercier 105971 item 3 Vol. 6. Mercin–Robidou 105972 item 1 Vol. 7. Robillard–Ziseuse 105972 item 2
How to Read and Entry
Dates. Most dates have a letter in front of them. The letter “b” means a christening date, “m” means a marriage date, and “s” means a burial date.
Localities and Superscript Numbers. The Dictionnaire gives the locality where the christening, marriage, or burial was registered. Sometimes the place the person came from is listed. Superscript (raised) numbers are used to represent localities. The first time a locality appears in an entry, there will be a superscript number behind it (for example: Trois Rivières 3). In the rest of the entry, 3 may be listed instead of rewriting Trois Rivières.
Superscript numbers do not represent the same locality in all entries. In one entry, 3 may mean Trois Rivières. In another entry, 3 may mean Montréal. Each time you look at an entry, find the first time every superscript number appears. The place the number represents in that entry will be listed. (You may wish to make a list of the numbers and localities to help you interpret the entry correctly.)
Localities can help you follow the migration of the family. For example, if several children are baptized at Montréal but the rest are baptized at Trois-Riviéres, the family probably moved from Montréal to Trois-Riviéres.
Names. The husband's surname is written in large capital letters. The surname of the wife is written in small capital letters. The children's names are written in italics. When only a given name is listed, it means the father and child had the same surname.
Roman Numerals. Roman numerals indicate generations. A person with I beside the name is the first ancestor listed in Tanguay's Diccionnaire. II is a child of the first ancestor. III is the grandchild of the first ancestor, and so on.
Finding an Immigrant Ancestor
The dictionary often gives an immigrant's exact place of origin in France. To trace a genealogy back to an immigrant ancestor:
Find the name of the person's father. If only a given name is listed, the father and child had the same surname. The Roman numeral (I, II, III, etc.) by the father's name indicates the number of generations to the immigrant ancestor. Find the record for the father. Look for the name of his father. Continue tracing the fathers' records until you come to the ancestor with I by his name. That is the immigrant ancestor.
When the events have been registered under both a proper name and a nickname, the dictionary generally refers you back to the proper name. For example, in a marriage record Jacob Lessard married Marie Louise Wolfe (Polish by nationality). In the records of their childrens' baptisms, she is named Marie-Louise Loupe or Marie-Louise Polonaise (meaning Polish). The dictionary refers the names Loupe and Polonaise back to the name Wolfe. Name variations which were known in the colony before the year 1700 are indicated in Volume 1, pages xxxi and xxxii.
Sometimes the record of the baptism of an infant is recorded under the Christian name of his father. For example, Louis is the son of Jean Raymond, whose full surname is Raymond de Fogas. A reference is made from the shortened surname Raymond to de Fogas.
Sometimes children were baptized several months after their birth. The reason for these delays was the prolonged absence of the missionaries who infrequently visited the different centers of population. The families would wait for the visit of the missionary to have baptism administered to their children. Therefore, do not be surprised if several baptisms in the same family are only a few months apart.
Other Information in the Dictionary
Vol. 1: p. xix: Survey of the etymology and history of names. (Aperçu étymologique et historique sur les noms.) p. xxxiii: Key to the genealogical dictionary. (Clef du dictionnaire généalogique.) p. 593: Ecclesiastical provinces of France in the year 1631. (Provinces ecclésiastiques de France en l’année 1631.) p. 595: Alphabetical list of the cities in France with the name of their province in 1631. (Table alphabétique des villes de France avec le nom de leur province en 1631.) p. 601: Chronological list of parishes and missions of the province of Quebec having registers from 1621 to 1871. (Table chronologique des paroisses et missions de la province de Québec tenant registres, de 1621 à 1871.) p. 607: Geographical list of the parishes of Quebec in 1871. (Table géographique des paroisses de la province de Québec en 1871.) p. 611: Alphabetical list of the parishes of the province of Quebec in 1871. It gives the diocese and the number of each parish. (Table alphabétique des paroisses de la province de Québec en 1871.) p. 617: Governors of New France from 1608 to 1700. It also lists the judges, provost-marshalls, doctors, and notaries. (Gouverneurs de la Nouvelle France de 1608 à 1700.) p. 619: Lists of Lords of New France in 1681. It also includes a list of personnel of the different religious houses. (Tableau des seigneuries de la Nouvelle France en 1681.)
Vol. 3 p. 603: Slaves. A list of slaves in the 17th and 18th centuries giving the name of the slave, the names of the owner, the slave's birth date, and the burial date and place of each slave. (Esclaves.)
Vol. 4 p. 607: Illegitimate births. A statistical picture of the total births, total legitimate births, and total illegitimate births for French Canada from 1701 to 1870. (lllégitimes.)
Vol.7 p. 495: Alphabetical list of proper names, their variations, and nicknames. (Table alphabétique des noms d’hommes, leurs variations et surnoms.) p. 603: Alphabetical list of the names of women who do not have a family founder in Canada. (Table alphabétiqe des noms de femmes n’ayant pas souché en Canada.) p. 685: List of women for whom only the first name is mentioned in the christening. (Liste des femmes dont le nom de baptême seul est mentionné.) p. 687: Names of white men married to native (Indian) women. (Noms des blanc mariés aux femmes indigenes.)