If you have French ancestry, you’ll enjoy the expansive scope of genealogy research for French roots. In the first part of this blog series, we discussed how French history intertwines with American history. We also discussed the importance of looking into home sources and organizing everything your family already knows.
Additionally, the first part covered name origins, specifically maiden name origins for French ancestors, and the growth and scope of ethnicity research and DNA heritage.
In this part, we’ll take a closer look at French history and records that can be derived from it.
Parish Records and Influence of the Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church is a prominent part of French history, and it has helped with the country’s record-keeping. We can trace back the church’s role in France all the way back to the year 500 when Clovis I became a Catholic, and therefore the monarchy and the church formed a union in France.
Much later, in 1539, the Ordinance of Villers Cotterets was signed, and it required priests to keep records of baptisms, records of marriages, and burials. Also, Louis, the fourteenth, ordered copies of vital parish records—this helped ensure that some of the copies would survive in the future.
Thanks to all these records, you can trace your French roots back all the way to the 1500s and 1600s. The records serve as essential sources in French genealogy research from names and dates to details about baptisms, marriages, and burials.
Civil Registrations after the French Revolution
We all know about the French Revolution in 1789, but do you know how it helps make your genealogy research easier today? Well, there were many changes and new laws after the revolution, and one of these was the transfer or sharing of record-keeping responsibilities.
Some local civil officials took over official vital records, but parish priests also continued their efforts. So, if you look at the records at this time, you’ll find parish records and civil registration records of your French ancestors. This will make it easier for you to cross-check the information you find.
France’s earliest census records aren’t as impressive or as helpful as other countries. This is mainly because many people at that time didn’t want to be enumerated since they wanted to evade increased taxation and military enlistment. So, the local censuses you’ll find for the late 1700s to 1836 aren’t likely to be very helpful.
However, after 1836, you’ll find country-wide census records taken every 5 years. These contain everything from full names to age or birth years, occupations, marital status, and other essential details that will be useful for your genealogy research.
If you need more help researching your French ancestry, check out the other parts of this blog series. You can also reach out for traditional family research services at DavisDNA Family Research. We can help you find Birth Parents through DNA!