Protestant genealogical research in France
It is not a question to remake a guide of genealogy here. There
exists about it sufficient and of extremely well made. The matter is
here of speaking about what distinguishes genealogical research
concerning the Protestants from France and about the sources which are
particular for them. The reason is their tormented history.
For the periods when French Protestantism had a legal existence,
there exists, insofar as they did not undergo destruction, Protestant
registers, very similar to those which one has the practice to find for
the catholics. The two principal periods of legal existence are that
installation by the Edict of Nantes and that installation by the law of the 18 germinal year X (April 8, 1802) which continues nowadays under a different mode (separation of
the Church and the State since 1905).
On the other hand, for the periods when Protestantism was
prohibited, and generally, persecuted, these registers do not exist. If
the baptisms, except exception, are recorded on the catholic registers,
the marriages and burials miss generally. To compensate for it, there is a certain
number of documents, of which certain specific to the Protestants.
Documents back-up troops:
- Notarial acts:
- Authenticated marriage contracts : contained in the solicitors records, they are the subject of a formality of insinuation (administration which the recording succeeded) that one can find in the files of the offices of the insinuation.
Invaluable documents, bus filiatifs, they give many information on the
fortune of joint (assembling dowry, contribution of the husband), the
instruction (which can or not sign), identity of the many witnesses,
- Inventories after authenticated or legal deaths:
invaluable documents where one is likely sometimes to see about thirty
marriage contracts filiatifs enumerated in the inventory of papers.
Allow to evaluate the standard of living. The heirs are often
mentioned. It happens that it is the only document which remains us to
indicate the death of a person to us and to locate the date of it.
- Receipts and revalidations of revenue : authenticated documents between a creditor and a debtor who are of the interest to go up at the origin of the credit and thus to establish the
genealogy of interested on several generations.
- Insinuation : it is about the service become currently that of the Recording. One finds there mention of notarial acts and marriage contracts whose
originals (minutes) are sometimes lost or destroyed, from where utility
to consult this source. This one, which always indicates the name of
the notary having passed the act, is also invaluable to locate an act
when one is unaware of by which tabellion it was established (what is
very useful in the cities where there are many studies).
How to identify Protestant ancestors?
- Registers of abjurations : often included in the catholic registers, they are the subject sometimes of separate registers.
- Roles of New convert
(or Catholics): state of the Protestant families drawn up by the
priests in the years 1698, 1699, or sometimes later. More or less
detailed according to the writer, they often contain invaluable
information, although the age mentioned is rather approximate as well
as the orthography of the names. One can find there also sometimes
comments which do not miss salt.
- Licence to bury :
initially delivered by the criminal lieutenant (as of December 1685),
it is then spring of the civil lieutenant. It makes it possible to bury
the body of night and without ceremony in a private garden or a ground
indicated for this use. It is the only official document which records
the death of a Protestant. The information is there often far too
summary, which can make difficult the identification of "of-cujus".
- Registers known as "of the desert" : held clandestinely by pastors carrying out a life of proscribe. A certain number were unfortunately lost. For those which remain, in
spite of their unequal quality, they are a priceless source of
information. They contain baptisms and marriages.
- Registers of the not-catholics : opened pursuant to the Edict of Tolerance of 1787 , they record initially the " rehabilitations "
of the Protestant marriages former to this edict to give them an
officially recognized existence. With this occasion, the children
resulting from these unions are named to be thus legitimated. Curious
fact, of the widows, sometimes extremely old, make record their
marriage. After that, these registers are truly a protesting registry
office, precursory of that which will be set up for all in 1792.
N.B.: tabellion and notary are two synonymous terms.
Paleography: marriage certificate in 1611 .
- in preparation
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