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Saturday, January 29, 2011

French, Dutch or Something Else!!

Josie asked an interesting question about a surname origin.

Hi Josie - Often when we're stumped on finding an ancestor outside of N. America, we want to find out the surname origin, thinking we can find the elusive ancestor that way. But that honestly isn't much help.
looking for help with the translation of the above name. I have an ancestor who was born in the Netherlands supposedly in Vorden, (Gelderland) in 1827. I think his father was Hubert. His name in Australia was Samuel De La Cour but I can’t get any response on Genlias for that spelling. Do you happen to know if the name needs to be translated and to what. It looks French to me.

Let's say that your Samuel's surname is French. How does that help you? You have no idea if his father was the first ancestor born in France, or his grandfather, or great-grandfather, or...

In other words, Samuel's surname might very well have its roots in France but you have no idea how many years back!

I agree that "de la.." makes us assume it is French but not necessarily. "cour" could be a variation of the French word for run, or it could me a phonetic misrepresentation of "coeur" which is French for "heart" But again, it could have an entirely different ethnic origin!

It is always best to simply go one step at a time. Start with Samuel and work backwards, one ancestor at a time. Find out where they were born, when they lived there, and so on. Just keep plugging away with census, church records, vital registrations - the usual.

Don't get too hung up on spelling. Names were often recorded phonetically if a clerk mis-heard the name. So your surname might be Delacour, De La Cour, De La Coeur or any other variant.

If your Samuel is the Samuel De La Cour who married in Victoria Australia in 1856 to Margaret Gordon Steel, why not send for his marriage record? Surely it will have his parents' names, and possibly more details that will help you.

If this is your Samuel, his death is recorded in 1870 in Bendigo Australia and again, you can send for his death record for more information. His widow Margaret died in Bendigo in 1874, perhaps there are even obituaries to be found.

I spent about 15 minutes looking for Samuel on and Trove Newspapers. You should also check CoraWeb for ships' passenger lists.

Also you mentioned there was no record of your Samuel's surname (De La Cour) on Genlias. There is. But you must follow their instructions for searching, and use ONLY the last bit "Cour"! You will find many De La Cour and La Cour individuals using this method.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Finding a Ship Ireland to Canada 1822

Bill wrote with a challenging question about a ship arriving in Canada in 1822

I'm trying to find information on the passage that my great, great grandfather John Worthington had with his family. He sailed from Dublin, Ireland on 11 April 1822 and arrived in Qu├ębec on 23 Jun 1822 with his wife Mary (Dagge) and son Edward Dagge W. and daughter Mary W. I don't know the name of the ship. I'd also love to confirm that they lived in Dunleckney, co. Carlow.

I found the above in notes of my grandfather and in a biography of Edward Dagge Worthington that was published in The Canadian Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-made Men, American Biographical Publishing Company, 1882, p. 103. I have some information on their life in Quebec where John was a shoemaker, but nothing regarding their travel from Ireland to Canada.
Hi Bill,

First let me say how lucky you are to have found such details on your ancestors. The time period you are looking in is very challenging, as ships passenger lists to Canada were not archived until 1865.

There are substitutes such as finding an immigrant's passage up the St. Lawrence River on a steamship. Sue Swiggum of is busy extracting these records and also newspaper notices of ship arrivals.

You may want to check her page for 1822 arrivals and see if any of the ships listed fit with your details as to date of departure or arrival.

If that is not successful I suggest you visit Filling in the Gaps which is a page of links to ALL online projects bringing these early substitute ships passenger records online. You will find links to JJ Cooke Shipping Records, Immigration Agent Records and more.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Correction from a Reader re Age of Majority

My good friend Howard Swain very kindly sent this email to me regarding an earlier post I made about the Dutch age of majority in New Netherland

I appreciate both Barbara and Howard catching my error and responding with an answer with sources!

I think you are mistaken when you said "The Dutch age of majority was 21...".

I think Barbara was correct that it was 25 based on Roman-Dutch law. I do not have a primary source for this, but instead I refer you to this article:

"The Paternity of Aert Theunissen Middagh: A suggestion;

The Ancestry of Theunis Gysbertszen Bogaert: A Caveat"

by Cameron Allen in TAG vol. 36, no. 3 (July 1960), pp 129 - 136. (TAG up through vol. 48 is now available to members online at the NEHGS(now American Ancestors) website.)

Among other things, the above article also deals with the situation in which the date at which a young man acquired property was known, and they wanted to determine what that would say about his age.

It turns out that, "Roman-Dutch Law permitted a child of whatever age to acquire land." (p. 133) He cites for this: Robert Warden Lee,An Introduction to Roman-Dutch Law, 1953, 5th ed., p. 47.

The article also on p. 133 mentions that the age of majority was 25, citing Lee, p. 43.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Free BDM Gives Researcher the Answer

Here's a question about a 1940s English marriage that is very easily answered.

hi my name is...marie. i would be graeful if you could help in anyway.i am searching for my granfathers birthday or members of his family.everything i have tried gives me 0.but i search marriages in uk,and there he his.anyway i have no livithatng relative who can help me;you are my last hope; his name is charles pluquet, he came from belgium ,i think he was born on or around 1920,he married my gan ln or about 1941 in stockton on tees north riding and had one child (my mother) marie astrid in 1942 and they seperated 2 years later.that is all i know thank you, p.s my gran was called Alice milburn who later married john prosser,

Hello Marie - I guess you are not familiar with the Free BMD website. Free BMD carry transcriptions of the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales

A quick search and bingo, Charles and Alice's marriage popped up.

Mar 1941 Distict: Cleveland (Yorkshire) Volume: 9d Page: 1089

Using the Date, volume and page number as found on Free BMD you can now order their marriage certificate. There you will find Charles' age, occupation and father's name (perhaps his mother's name as well) plus more info on Alice and other details such as witnesses, who may be relatives.

For help with ordering the marriage certificate, see Ordering English Certificates of Birth, Marriage or Death online

Friday, January 14, 2011

Finding an Ancestor in Belgium

I received several queries from a woman, let's call her Ms. X. In this one she wants to know how to find an ancestor from Belgium.

Her question:
I need your help deaperatley, I have  tried every web site to trace my grandfather (charles pluquet.from begium) it seems as though he did,nt exsist no body as heard of the name let alone him,I have even tried to find out if the name is dutch but no luck could you please tell me were to look next,thank you so much
Dear Ms. X: My husband's great grandfather Achilles De Meuleunaere was born in Belgium and his ancestry goes quite far back in that country.

The Belgium records are extraordinary. Using the microfilmed church records beginning with Achilles' birth in 1884, we were able to find his parents' names. From there we searched back, one person and one event at a time.

We found marriages, deaths and baptisms quite easily. Although the records are in various languages other than English, it is not too difficult to pick out a name - provided you are familiar with reading old handwriting!

Being diligent and carefully looking for each ancestor's church records as we searched back from Achilles, we were able to prove his lineage back to 1779. At some point we would like to research further but we simply ran out of time. We also researched the spousal lines with great success.

Some of the records are in Latin. Some are in French. Some are in Dutch. Some are in a language very similar to Dutch. It depends on the time period you are searching in and the location. So you must go slowly and not be discouraged by the changes in language as you search the records.

If you get back far enough to the time when the French occupied the country, you will see a change in how dates are recorded. From 1793-1805 the French Republican Calendar was in use. Believe me when I first encountered it in the church records in Belgium I was completely lost! But I was able to find a research guide which explained how the calendar worked and what each month name meant.

The twelve months of the French Republican calendar were based on the natural events of the seasons of the year. They don't correspond to the standard months of January through December so you must go slowly and be sure you understand when each event you find occured.

I suggest you begin at  Belgium Roots then have a look at the online FamilySearch catalogue to see what records have been microfilmed for the location and time period you need.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Checking Online Data for Source Information & Instructions

Donna asked about an online Naturalization Records database

I have been trying to find my GGG Grandfather who was John Reedy, or John Reddy b. 1848 in Ireland, d. 1927 in Phillipburg NJ. On your USA-Wide Naturalization Records INDEX TO DECLARATION OF INTENT 1827-1895 I can see a John Reedy and a Patrick Reddy, but I am not for sure how to order a copy of the document or even if I can order it


Hi Donna - I'm glad that you found the set of records I have online at  However I have 15 volumes of name indexes for the set (INDEX TO DECLARATION OF INTENT 1827-1895 ) you refer to!

It would have been helpful to have a direct URL (that's the webpage address/URL starting with http:// ) so I could see the exact page where you found the information.

However, in answer to your question about how you go about ordering the full information - every page of my INDEX TO DECLARATION OF INTENT 1827-1895 has the instructions on how to do this.

For example if you go to "D" Surnames, Books 7 & 8 of this series you will see the title


BOOKS 7 & 8 April 1843 - May 1850

and then  --- the source! "Source: FHC Film 1301572 Items 1 & 2 "

Then there is more info and then, the golden information which starts with

"Lorine's Note: There are 7 reels of microfilm containing New York Declarations of Intent. The following is an index to those Declarations, with page numbers to help you find the original. To view the original Declarations of Intent, consult ....."  followed by the exact film and item number you need to find the details.

Yes I'm going to make you go back to the website and find it for yourself. You need to return to the page where you saw your REDDY, REEDY names and read the instructions. Those instructions will tell you how to order the full record.

Every genealogist should be very careful to check for information as to how to use every database they search, whether the data is online or in book form. 99% of websites and books will provide full instructions as to where the data came from, and how to get more details if available.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Obtaining an American Passport Application after 1925

Loretta asked about getting an American Passport application from 1952

How do I obtain a copy of the Passport Registrations for individuals who left the United States in 1952? I have the passport number. Is it possible to get a copy of the application?

Hi Loretta,

NARA has passport applications from October 1795-March 1925. The U. S. Department of State has passport applications from April 1925 to the present. Passports before 1925 have been filmed by NARA and LDS church as passport records, passport registers, and passport indexes

Please see the website for details on how to send for passport information for the time period you need. Scroll down to WHERE TO FIND AMERICAN PASSPORTS after the page loads.