Monday 26 December 2011

UPDATE: British Home Children and a Catudal Connection

The update is written in red below

Have you heard of the British Home Children? It seems to be one of the very best open secrets of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a scheme devised to alleviate the financial burden on Britain of its poor or impoverished children. Rather than look after their own, they sent poor children whether orphaned or not to their colonies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa in the form of cheap child labour.

There were a number of organizations responsible for the emigration (read deportation) such as: Barnardo’s, Annie Macpherson, Maria Rye, Fegan Homes, Dr. Stephenson, the National Children’s Home and so on

There were well in excess of 100,000 children taken from Great Britain between 1833 and 1939. Their ages usually ranged between 6 and 15 years of age but some were as young as 3 and they were simply known as “The Home Children”

Often the agencies responsible for these “Waifs and Strays” changed dates of birth and last names of the children so that they could never trace where they themselves came from. It is as if they were simply thrown away not even with the dignity of a past or identity to hold onto.

This wasn’t the only time that Britain engaged in this practice but it was the last.

The majority of the children were sent to Canada. They were set-up on farms as indentured servants working until the age of 18 without pay or the right to medical care and they were not allowed to go to school.

As part of my research for my book, The Families Catudal. I came across a 1911 census that struck me as kind of odd.

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Under the entry of Barthelemy Catudal’s family was an “adopted” daughter name Sara (sic) Clarke. The entry noted that she was 17 years of age and had come to Canada in 1904 at the age of 10 at which time, presumably, she had gone to live with Barthelemy’s family. What was strange is that I never heard of her at all - Barthelemy was my great grandfather. My grandfather would have been 11 years old at the time of the 1911 census and old enough to have remembered her but he nor my great aunts and uncles never once mentioned her. I tried to find out what had become of her but could never find any information on her, until recently.

Also of note in the above census is the fact that all of the school aged children were shown to have attended 10 months of school for the year 1910 but not Sarah. As I said, the British Home Children were not allowed to go to school; they were on these farms to work, period.

I managed to find Sarah on a passenger list along with 75 other children on the ship The Bremen. They had set sail from Liverpool, England on 18 February 1904 and had arrived in Halifax on the 27th. One child was being sent on to Sturgeon Falls, Ontario another to Barrie, Ontario and the rest were all headed to Knowlton, Québec from whence they would be distributed to various farms in Québec as child labourers.

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I was really dumbfounded when I saw her name on a passenger list carrying so many children sailing all alone. It occurred to me that she and the rest must have something to do with The Home Children and started to look deeper into this often times horrible legacy. This is when I came into contact with Perry Snow who’s own father had been one of these outcasts. He has spent many years developing a comprehensive database of British Home Children: the database has over 57,000 British Home Children records, in order to make sure that these children would not be forgotten, to show that they mattered, that they were someone and so that their names would live on.

I submitted Sarah Ann Clarke’s name to Mr. Snow to be entered into his database, along with the vital record details I have to date uncovered such as, her entry on the Passenger List from 1904, the 1911 Census, her marriage record, the 1920 USA Census entry and the 1930 USA Census entry. Sarah now will live on. She did exist and she did matter!

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A little bit about Sarah: She was a Methodist and was married on 29 October 1915 in the Lawrenceville Methodist Church. At the time of her marriage she had been living in Bedford Village. Her husband, Alex J. Bresette, who was a fair bit older than she, had been living in South Durham prior to their marriage. On the 1920 Oxford, Maine census it states that she and her husband had moved to the States in 1915 (shortly after their marriage), that they were not American Citizens and that Sarah came from the coastal town of Margate, England, about 75 miles Southeast from London. It was a stroke of luck that the enumerator had entered the town rather than just England. He had struck out the town’s name and left the word England on that line but it is clear to see the name below the crossed out line.

The Census states that Sarah’s mother had been born in Wales and her father Australia. Alex’s father had been born in Canada while his mother had been born in the States. He is shown as being employed on a farm.

The Census also shows that both Sarah and her husband could read and write but neither had attended school. They owned their own home but it had a mortgage.

On the 1930 Census it shows that the couple had moved about 10 miles away from where they had lived in 1920 to Mechanic Falls, Maine and that they no longer owned their own home but rather rented for $16.00 a month. This time they stated that they had immigrated not in 1915 but rather in 1924 and were still not American Citizens. Alex did odd job while Sarah kept house.

Sarah and her husband do not appear to have had any children.

I have yet to be able to find more on Sarah but will continue to search. Well, perseverance does pay off. Today I found Sarah's death information as well as her husband's. After having lived all those years in Maine, she and her husband moved back to the same town where she had been 'placed' in 1904. She died on 17 December 1949 in Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada. He death record, which I found through Généalogie Québec - Institut généalogique Drouin, had her birth date as having been 3 July 1891.

Her husband Alexander John Bresette died on 3 April 1957 in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I'm so please that we now know where she is. Now, I will try to find her grave marker, if there was one and if it survived...

Now that I have a possible town where she was born and know that she and her husband probably lived out their lives in Maine I am sure that I will be able to put together a more complete picture of this, until now, forgotten soul.

If ever you would like to know more about the British Home Children then I highly recommend Perry Snow’s book Neither Waif nor Stray which can also be purchased as a PDF book. It chronicles his father’s search for his identity only to be met with brink walls at every turn. After Perry’s father’s death, Perry began a mission to put to rest, once and for all, the question his father so much wished and had tried to have answered in his lifetime and that was “who am I”. Perry’s father, Frederick George Snow (1909-1994), would have been so proud of his son if he could have seen what Perry discovered. As I read Perry’s book I could see that the passion he had that sustained him through the stonewalling and incompetence of the ‘system’ was turning into not only a quest to solve the riddles about his father and where he came from but had broadened to include all such souls. The quest became one of making sure that all BHC would find their rightful place in history, Sarah Ann Clarke being one of them.

Perry writes on page 8 and 9 about what it felt like for someone who fell under the umbrella of the Home Children:

If I asked you to identify yourself, how would you answer? Invariably, you would volunteer your name. Although many others might have the same name, it is the first step in identifying yourself apart from others. Next, you might tell me your date of birth, because although many others might have an identical name, few others would have been born on the same day. Then you might tell me your Parents’ names. Many others might have your name. A few might have been born on the
same day, but no one -- apart from your siblings -- could have your Parents. You can only have one biological Father and Mother, and your moment of birth is unique to you alone. You might then specify where you were born. No one else on earth could have been born with your name, to your Parents, at a specific time, and in a specific place. You
might produce a Birth Certificate to validate your claim to be who you say you are.

My Father was riddled with doubts every time he identified himself. All he could say was what his caretakers led him to believe was true. When he said, “My name is Fred G. Snow,” he thought to himself, “I think.” When he said, “I was born on Larch Road, Balham, London on September 17, 1909,” he thought, “I have no birth certificate to prove this.” When he said, “My Parents were John George Snow and Annie Gifford/Snow,” he thought, “at least that is what they told me.”

Your identity allows you to value yourself as a unique person of some worth. The absence of an identity contributes to your devaluing yourself as a useless thing. If you know who you are, you feel like a “somebody.” If you do not know who you are, you feel like a “nobody.” The majority of the British Home Children were labelled as worthless, and believed they were worthless.

Saturday 5 November 2011

What Sources Might Help Us Learn About What Life Was Like in New France in the 1600s

Have you ever wondered what life was like in New France in the early days of colonization? Well there is a movie which gives an excellent depiction of life in New France circa the 1630s and 1640s, The Black Robe Screenplay by Brian Moor (Canadain Author), Directed by Bruce Beresford (1991).

There is a book by Suzanne Desrochers entitled Bride of New France which takes the reader on a journey by a couple of women from France to New France in the mid 1600s. It is a work of fiction based on fact and an excellent read.

The film The Last of the Mohicans, which is set in and around 1757 during the French and Indian War, is an excellent look at what life was like at that time as well as a true to life account of that war.

Another source that can give you an accurate, albeit biased, look at life during the early days of New France is the Jesuit Relations - also known as The Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle-France. These documents where written by the Jesuit missionaries starting in 1611 and were basically reports which the Jesuits sent back to France telling of the conditions and concerns of New France. These documents span almost 200 years. You can see these documents by going to

Another avenue is to look at the art work done at the time. For the 1600s there is only one Canadian work of art that I was able to find and that is Lady with a Dog from around 1679 (unknown Québec Artist):

However, if you look at French painters from the 1600s I would bet that most of the styles of clothing worn then were similar to what was seen in New France. Also the furniture and food would have been somewhat similar. If you go to the National Gallery of Canada's Search page at and search for French Artists with a date of between 1600 and 1699 you'll see many paintings created by French Artists during that time-frame. In this way you can also get a glimpse into what life looked like during the early days of New France.

Sunday 2 October 2011

UPDATE - The Families Catudal Book is Finished

UPDATE - Since posting the blog The Families Catudal Book is Finished I have added another 10 pages. This is the way with a genealogical study; it never really ends. I have now stopped, promise! adding anything new. Well, actually the new additions were a result of having come into contact with a St-Jean family who's current family history information had, to date, eluded me. I put a short but important halt on the book production in order to add all the new information to my book. Now I'm back on track.

Also, for those of you who do not have a PayPal account not to worry. I am going to setup my account so that I can receive payments via credit card. I will let you know how to go about making a credit card payment  when the book is ready.

Double Also, I have received the Proof and there are a number of format issues and many of the pictures need to be adjusted; many are printing a bit darker than what would be optimal. I will work on this in the next few days and hope that it won't mess up the timing too much. I still expect the book to go to press no later than the last week in November and be ready to ship at the latest the first week of December. I'm hoping that all of this can be done even quicker. Better to be careful and thorough I say.

The Families Catudal book is finished. I have sent the book to the printers and they are going to do a proof for me. I’ll then check the proof to make sure that the book looks the way I want it to making any necessary changes and then I will publish it.

The Families Catudal book is an in-depth study of as many Catudal family members as I could find in the public record, meaning in baptism, marriage, burial and census records; in books, newspaper accounts, oral histories, archival documents, headstones, and, well, just about every sort of place records or information can be found. This includes records from Canada, the USA and France and covers all time-frames where those records existed and I could find them.

My initial focus eight years ago when I started researching Catudal family history was on pre-1940s records but I soon expanded that focus to include everything I could find. I managed to document a little over 6,500 people, most of who are Catudals or who are related to a Catudal. The Canadian and USA Catudals covers a span of 10 generations, not including Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean himself. The Catudals from France starts at the year 1589 and includes approximately 250 family members.

I discuss in-depth the name ‘Catudal’ and its place in history as well as give a detailed look at Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean (Abt. 1705-1775), the first Catudal to come to New France (Canada).

I also discuss people who we are descendants of  but who themselves may not have been Catudals, such as Marie Marguerite Le Prevost (Abt. 155-1732) who was a 'King's daughter' (a fille du roi) and to whom all Catudals are related. Or "The Hero of New France” Guillaume Couture (1618-1701) to whom some Catudals are related. I discuss The Great Recruitment of 1653 and how, if it hadn’t happened, 1,217 of us would not be here today. There are many, many such stories.

There are more light hearted stories such as how someone tried to swindle a Catudal and paid the price, how a Catudal Member of Parliament’s wife left him to elope with another man, of musical and artistic Catudals, athletic Catudals and inspirational Catudals. There were and are many talented Catudals. There are or were many Catudals were it not for their sacrifices and achievements we would not be here today. I’ve tried my best to document as many of them as I could find.

There is a legend that talks of a line of Catudals in Canada and the States who come from Georges Cadoudal, who played a part in the French Revolution. In the chapter entitled Tidbits I look at and discuss this legend extensively. In the chapter entitled Famous/Infamous Relatives I also have Georges Cadoudal’s detailed family history. To my knowledge no one has documented his specific family history to this extent before.

The Families Catudal book will be a very large book. It will have an A4 layout, just like my first book for those of you who purchased a copy. It will have a red leather finish with gold embossing and will have 797 807 pages of which 200 have colour. That means that all colour pictures will be printed in colour. The pictures which had a patina but where not in colour, per se, will also be in colour so that you can see those pictures as they looked originally. The book will weigh about 8 pounds. To see what my last book The Extended Catudal Family History looked like please go to my blog This next book will be very similar in size if not colour. The Family Catudal is being printed and bound by the same company which bound my first book.

To give you a better idea of the layout of the book here are the chapter headings in my book:
Table of Contents
Table of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations and Terms
Names and Naming Conventions
The Name Catudal
Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean (Abt. 1705-1775)
Famous/Infamous Relatives
The Delubac Catudals
Catudals from France
Catudals from Canada and the United States – First Generation
Second Generation
Third Generation
Fourth Generation
Fifth Generation
Sixth Generation
Seventh Generation
Eighth Generation
Ninth Generation
Tenth Generation
Pictures of Unknowns – Possibly Catudals
How to Determine Relationships
Notes (At the end of the book I have added some blank pages so that you can use that space to add notes and hopefully update your family history information as things change.)

There are a little over 350 pictures and illustrations as well.

The publishing cost to me to produce each book will be $185.00 Canadian, a little less than my last book. I am not selling this book for profit. If you wish to purchase a copy I ask only that you pay me what the book cost me to produce and that you pay for the shipping – there will also be a small charge for the box the book will be shipped in. I will be shipping the book from Canada and not from Germany because that would just not be economically feasible. I am hoping to be able to have them ready to ship by middle to late November.

If you would like a copy then I ask that you let me know ASAP because I am only going to have a small run done, just enough to cover the orders. Please note that several Archives, some libraries, some universities and the LDS Library had indicated, at the time they purchased my last book, that if I write another book they wish to purchase it as well, so I will include those in this run. Otherwise, I don’t plan on printing any extra as then I would have to pay $185.00 out of pocket for each unsold book.

If you want to purchase a copy of The Families Catudal then please e-mail me at  to let me know. I need your complete mailing address as well. I will let you know when the book is ready to be shipped and then, and only then, I will ask you to pay the amount using Paypal. I am only going to accept payment through Paypal. If you don’t have a Paypal account yet then please open up one. It is a very safe way to pay for purchases and now-a-days it is often the only way to pay online for something. I have my Paypal account set-up so that they charge my credit card for purchases automatically. I used to have it set-up so that I had to put money on my Paypal account before I could purchase something but that was just too cumbersome.

To give you an idea of the cost of postage from Toronto to a few of the places I know some of you live in and around I have made a short list. When your book is ready I will let you know the current cost of mailing it at that time but here are some charges as of today:

Toronto to Alberta: $22.50
Toronto to New York: $25.00
Toronto to California: $31.50

The box to ship the book in will cost a few dollars; I’m not sure how much just yet.

There is a flat rate box from Canada Post but it is too small. I’m looking into other ways to ship which would be more economical. If any of you have any ideas please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Here are some pictures of several pages from my book randomly selected so that you can get an idea of the book’s content and layout. Please click on the pictures to enlarge - please note these are pictures converted from the pdf file and as such the quality is not as good. If you would like to see the pdf pages just let me know and give me your e-mail address and I'll send it to you:

Please let me know as soon as possible if you want to purchase a copy.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Do we as Catudals have a Native Indian heritage or not?

The answer is yes and no. If the question is directed as such: Is the Catudal line Native in any way? then the answer is no. If you follow the pure male line back to Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean who came to New France in and around 1721 from France then it is clear in the genealogical record that the pure male line of Catudals is not Native.

The next question is did any child born a Catudal (or one of its dit names of St-Jean or St. John) marry a Native Indian or have children with a Native Indian? The answer again – as far as the historical record uncovered to date shows – is no. There is nothing in the historical record to indicate that anyone born a Catudal married a Native Indian. That is not to say that they didn’t. It is only to say that there is no baptismal record, no marriage record, no land claim, no Census record, nor any other records where this is seen to be the case.

We have to keep in mind though that pre-1900’s people did not openly admit to being a Native Indian or being a ‘half-breed’ or acknowledging on a Census that they were ‘Red’ if they didn’t have to. Now-a-days we have a romantic idea of what it is or was to be Native. Our forefathers thought different and they knew the harsh realities that came with being considered a ‘sauvage’.

There are DNA tests available, which can give conclusive proof of Native blood. The problems with those tests are that they can’t tell from which line or from how far back the Native blood is from.

The reason is that one of the genetic markers, which indicates whether one has Native blood or not, is either passed down from mother to child unchanged (but only the female child will pass this marker down to her children) or from father to son unchanged. This means that it cannot be determined from which generation the Native blood came from. The Indian bloodline could be from 2 generations back or from 1,000 years ago. There is nothing, to date, that can make that distinction.

A person who has both Native Indian blood and European blood is called a Métis. Each Métis Association and each area these Associations fall in, all have their own criterion as to when a person is considered a Métis. Generally, the main criteria is that you can prove a link to a Métis or to a Native Indian. That means that you must have primary documents, ie. Baptism records, for each generation, starting from you, back to the person who is Native. Métis status is recognized regardless of whether the Native blood comes from the paternal or maternal line.

There is DNA evidence to support and to also call into question a Native Indian tie-in for the Catudal family line. Firstly, not in support of a Native tie-in: Jean-François St-Jean ( Mélanie St-Jean’s father – another genealogist doing Catudal research) had a Y-DNA test done, which only looks at the pure male line, The results showed that his heritage is European without any Native blood. To be specific, his test showed that his paternal haplogroup is R1b.

Secondly, Michel Catudal (another researcher) wrote this in the group ‘Catudal’ on Facebook regarding us having a possible Native tie-in:

“My son, wife and myself went thru some genetic tests at McGill university when I was working on an engineering contract in Montréal and we were told that we have some genetic hearing loss traits only found so far among Iroquois. The only native information I have found in the Catudal family is in the Acadian branch of the family. As for my wife she is half Cherokee half Amish. I was told that we have Mohawks ancestors but didn't find anything to prove it. As for the hearing loss genetic traits, they were both identical in my wife, my son and I and the experts at McGill told us that they have found these only among Iroquois until they met us. Both Cherokees and Mohawks are of Iroquois descent. I do not know about the Abenakis, maybe they have common ancestors also.”

It isn’t clear exactly what tests Michel had but it does show that there is a possibility that he has some Native tie-in but from what line, paternal or maternal, is not clear.

Having said all of that, there are indirect Native Indian connections to some of the Catudal lines and here are two examples of those connections:

One of the Catudal tie-in lines to Native Indian starts at Marie Abenaquie who was a Micmac Indian , her daughter was Edmee Lajoie Briard LeJeune, her daughter was Marie Françoise Louise Gauterot, her daughter was Madeleine Terriot, her son was Pierre Robichaud, his daughter was Marie Françoise Leborgne Belisle, her daughter was Marguerite Robichaud, her daughter was Marie Josephte Pepin Lachance, her son was Pierre Chabot, his daughter was Philomene Chabot who was married to Maglorie Catudal.

The other line that has Native blood in it starts at Jean-Vincent Saint-Castin who married Marie Mathilde Pidiwamiska (also known under the name Mataconando and or Pidianske) in 1684. Their daughter was Anastasie Saint-Castine, her daughter was Marie Françoise Leborgne Belisle, her daughter was Marguerite Robichaud, her daughter was Marie-Josephte Pepin-Lachance, her son was Amable Chabot, his daughter was Philomene Chabot and her son was Barthelemy Catudal.

There are some Catudal families who have grown up with the common understanding that they have Native blood through the Catudal line, which on face value, begs the question “why would that sort of information have been passed down if it weren’t true?” Good question. I would like to give an example of how it is not always the case that what is passed down regarding Native heritage is true.

My grandmother Yvonne Catudal (née Tremblay) grew up knowing that her grandmother, Sophie Godard dit Lapointe was a Native Indian. All the grandkids grew up also having this information about our Native heritage. Close to seven years ago I met a cousin whose great great grandmother was also Sophie. She too grew up with the same information. She put me in touch with yet another cousin from another side of the family who also could trace themselves to Sophie and they too grew up with this information. So here we were, three people who had come from this particular line but who had grown up without contact to the others and all of us had been given the same information. You can imagine how surprised we were when I took a mt-DNA test, the one that tests the pure female line, and received the results showing that I did not have a Native tie-in. My Mitochondrial haplogroup is H, which means that my pure female line is European. Those people who have Native blood belong to Haplogroup A, B, C, D or X only. The story about Sophie being Native Indian is not true, at least it isn’t if the genetics can be believed.

The story could have originated because Sophie looked Native. She even had the nickname ‘Squaw’. Maybe the only reason she had this nickname was because she looked Native and not because she was.

I have come to learn that this phenomenon, of being under the impression or understanding that one has a Native heritage when in reality there is nothing to support the claim, is rather common.

Did you know?
Many people believe that having Métis status is the same as having Indian Status. It is not. The term Métis was the term given to the children who were the product of the early French fur trappers or other Europeans and Native Indian women.
If you obtain Métis status then, depending on where you are in Canada or the States, you may be allowed certain rights such as special fishing or hunting rights or perhaps be given an advantage when being considered for government grants but nothing much else. Métis do not have treaty rights – there are a few exceptions where some Métis bands have treaty rights but those are exceptions.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

I Learned a Very Good Lesson Today

In one of my blogs I had posted a picture of three soldiers saying that I thought that the middle person was Armand Donat Lucien Catudal (1919-1997). Here is that picture:

Well, after some discussion with Bettyann, Donat's daughter-in-law, I realized that the old photo that I found in my Grandmother's old photo album was of someone else, but who? There was only one other person that I thought that it could be and that was my Grandmother's brother, Jean Joseph Tremblay.

My cousin Michelle Eber told me that I should send this picture to a mutual cousin Joanne Turcotte (née Tremblay) to see if she could identify her grandfather. I sent the picture to Joanne and asked her if she recognized anyone in the picture. She wrote back saying that, yes it was a picture of her grandfather and that this picture was taken of him while in Canada.

I thought, "Bingo" I knew it had to be of someone in our immediate family and because he, at least to me, looked so much like Donat, I had falsely thought it was of him.

Then I got a second e-mail from Joanne saying that by-the-way, her grandfather was the person on the left. I had spent so much time fixated on the man in the middle that it never for a moment occurred to me that the person of interest would be anyone but the man in the middle. This is a great lesson! I really do try not to get fixated or blind-sighted and most of the time I think I manage but obviously I need to work on it.

The man on the left in the above picture was my great uncle and he was baptized as Joseph Joachim Emery Tremblay (1904-1987).  He was known as Jean to his immediate family (children and grandchildren) and as Joe to the rest of us. Why? I don't know.

Another puzzle solved.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Statistics - Did you know?

Did you know that if you have a blog that you can see how many people have looked at your blog, what browser they used, which pages were viewed and from which country the person was when viewing your page - or at least which country IP address they used. It is rare but some people use an IP cloaking software to hide their country's location so it isn't a guarantee that the places listed are the places someone actually logged-in from but it probably is pretty close.

I thought you too might be interested to know some of this information.

For this past week, here are the places registered as having taken a look at one of my blog pages:

United States


Two weeks ago the most hits received were from the Ukraine??

But over all the most hits came from Canada and then the States. I have had hits from just about everywhere including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, China, Russia, Romania and Brazil - just to name a few.

The most viewed blog page has been The Families Catudal Hits a Glitch followed by my military information pages.

There have been close to 2,500 hits in total, which I think is amazing. We're talking about a very specific topic, Catudal genealogy, after all.

I have met a very nice young man from France through this blog who is a Catudal and is interested in tracing his own Catudal roots, which I look forward to helping him accomplish. Who knows, maybe this will also help us in Canada and the States to broaden our limited knowledge of Catudal family members in France.

Please feel free to contact me, where ever you may be, if you have any questions regarding Catudal family history. I would be more than happy to help in any way that I can. I speak English and German and a bit of French (I have wonderful cousins who help me translate in and out of French when I hit a brick wall). So if you don't feel comfortable communicating with me in English then don't let that stop you if you speak German or French. My e-mail address is

Oh and, I will be on vacation from 15 July until the second week in August and won't have access to the Internet, so if I don't answer you during that time you'll know why.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Update - The Families Catudal is now in the editing phase

I have begun the last phase of writing my book The Families Catudal, the editing. I hope to have the book ready for proofing by mid-July. That part of the process will take several weeks and then it can be printed and bound - another 4 to 6 weeks. I actually don’t really like giving any time-lines or dates because life has a way of getting in the way every time I do, so please don’t hold me to these dates - they are only a best case scenario.

I will post a synopsis of the book closer to the finalization of the project. I will then ask those who have an interest in obtaining a copy to let me know. If you have an interest in all things Catudal you may be interested in this particular book.

I am not selling my book for profit! My first book, The Extended Catudal Family History, ended up costing me well over $200.00 for each book to have them printed, bound and published. The reasons it cost so much was that I publish only a small number of copies and that I went all out on quality. I printed the book in colour; a very expensive choice. The binding was done by a firm who specialized in binding high quality art books. I had it bound in leather as well. There were 972 pages and it weighed over 9 lbs.. The size of the book was A4, which is 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches and I included a DVD with each book, which contained copies of all vital records: baptisms, marriages, burials, censuses, newspaper accounts and so on. The DVD also contained Volume 2 of the book which was essentially group sheets for each individual in my database -group sheets looks like this: (Click to Enlarge)

I will be printing my next book The Families Catudal in the same manner. The only difference is that the next book will have approximately 735 pages. That will help lower the costs a bit but if the cost is over $200.00 per book again, I will still not charge more, if it is less I will charge less. I have saved and saved since the last book so that I can afford to do this - it is really a labour of love.

Here is a picture of my first book so that you can see approx what the next one will look like - I am thinking of having the new book bound in green, my favourite colour, with either silver or gold writing. I haven't made up my mind yet. (Click to Enlarge)

Here are a couple excerpts from my first book - the next book will be similar in style: (Click to Enlarge)

I will not be publishing any identifying information on people living or thought to be living and as such no birth dates or birth places will be given for those living or thought to be living. However, if you purchase a book and I know you to be from the Catudal family then I will include a pdf file on CD with a complete family history report for your particular family with birth dates and places so that you can have all of your own family’s information. If you want identifying information about another line of Catudals then I will put you in contact with someone from that line in order that you can get permission from them. If they give you permission then I will produce the document and send it to you. I have never heard of someone’s identity having been stolen from someone who looked through a genealogical study, but still, I think it is better to err on the side of caution.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Dit (dite) Names

Did you know that 'dit' is used for masculine names, 'dite' for feminine. The word dit is used to reference non-gender specific dit names. The word dite is only used with-in the proper name of a female.

What are dit names?

The French word dit translates in English to the word 'said'. What does this mean?, well, different things to different researchers. The term dit to some researchers is translated to a.k.a., also known as; to some it translates as 'nickname'; some translate it as 'alias'; while others translates it as 'distinguisher'.

The most popular explanation is that the French in New France took or were given a dit name as a way to distinguish themselves from one another.

Dit names where an additional name given or taken by someone by which they were or could be also known as. This practise was historically used by the French and the Scots.


As in most things dealing with history, the question as to why the French followed the practise of using a dit name is controversial. The reason it is controversial is that there does not appear to be any hard and fast rules as to when and why people followed this practise. Here are some of the common reasons dit names where given or used:

To distinguish one person or family from another
To demonstrate the point - in a small town there are two John Smiths who happen to be cousins therefore, they come from the same immediate family. Both are tailors, which is the family business. To distinguish one from the other, one of them added to his name John Smith dit Taylor meaning John Smith the tailor. The other changed his name to John Smith dit Tremblay because he lived near a grove of Aspens. Aspen wood in French is Tremblay. Distinguishing between the two would have no longer posed a problem.

Soldiers - Decreed by law
It is often said that dit names were given to soldiers in New France to distinguish one from another with-in the same troupe. Soldiers under one commander might have been given dit names which all began with a particular letter of the alphabet, such as in the Dugre Company - the soldiers were given dit names that all began with the letter D; another troupe might have all had names of parts of the body. Between 1764 and 1768 the soldiers from the Casaux company where all given dit names of vegetables, such as Lalétue, Lachicorée, and Lecerfeuil and so on.

The dit name was an identifier. One would know immediately which troupe someone belonged to because of the types of dit names given.

In 1716 it became a requirement that all soldiers be given a dit name. What is most interesting is that in New France a dit name could be passed down from father to son and often was. On the other hand, this was not done in France. A soldier's dit name in France was a personal thing. The son would not have taken his father's dit name.

To pay respect
Some people took the family name of the person who raised them. There were a fair number of casual adoptions in the 1600 to 1800 hundreds often due to the mother dying during the birth of one of her children. It wouldn't have been uncommon for a woman to have taken-in the child or children of her dead sister for instance. The child would, according to French law, have kept their family name but often would tack on their adoptive father's last name as a dit name.

To show where one came from
The standard prefix in a French name showing origin or referring to a place is 'de' as in Jacques de St. Dennis which means Jack from St. Dennis. However, some people in New France would add a dit name and not a de name of a place or location such as Henry Beauclerc dit Normandie who was the son of William the Conqueror.

Paying religious homage
The population in New France was Catholic. Non-catholics were not allowed into the colony. The first and only - attested to – Jewish person to set foot in New France was 20-year-old Esther Brandeau; she actually entered the colony disguised as a boy named Jacques La Fague. It was not long before she was found out. She was given every opportunity to convert which she refused, so she was sent back to France. There was a Jewish person who was hired by the Hudson Bay Company, Ferdinande Jacobs, and came to Canada in 1732. However, Hudson Bay was under England’s rule and not a part of New France; therefore, in this case, Ferdinande was allowed to stay.

In 1627 the Catholic missionaries in New France were concerned that some Huguenots were making their way into Acadia and convinced Cardinal Richelieu to add a clause to the charter of the Company of New France which said that the only people who could settle in New France were "natural-born French Catholics".

Some people took dit names as a way to pay homage to their favourite saint such as François St-Jean or Michel St-Pierre and the like.

Dropping the family name in favour of the dit name
Anglicization of a last name often meant dropping the family name in favour of the dit name as often happened with our Catudal name when a Catudal family moved to the States. The name Catudal is and was a difficult name for English speakers to pronounce and spell. Many of our Catudal relatives who immigrated to the States dropped the name Catudal and went by St-Jean or anglicized the name further to St. John. NOTE: I use a hyphen for St-Jean but a period for St. John simply because the French usually use a hyphen for St-Jean and that St. John is an Anglicization and spelled by Americans with a period.

There are a myriad of reasons one may have taken or been given a dit name. The reasons mentioned above are only some of the more popular reasons I have come across but by no means the only reasons.


As I said above, the most popular explanation is that the French in New France took or were given a dit name as a way to distinguish themselves from one another. My question is, why would someone with an extremely rare name of Catudal be given, by his commander, one of the most common dit names in New France, St-Jean, if the whole idea was to distinguish himself from others? There are 172 family names besides Catudal who also carry the dit name of St-Jean; the most common of which are Coitou, Langlois, Laperche, Martin and Serre.

One reason that our Catudal was given one of the most common dit names in New France could be argued that it didn't matter because he would always be able to be distinguished in his troupe because of the unusual combination Catudal dit St-Jean. However, when some of our relatives started to drop the Catudal name in favour of St-Jean they no longer where using St-Jean as a distinguisher because they now shared that name with 3,688 other people pre-1800. 

The number of times a last name appears in the historical records of New France pre 1800 has been ranked by the PRDH Le Programme de recherche en démographie historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) from the University of Montréal.

The name Catudal is ranked at 1,479 meaning that 1,478 names are more common in the New France historical record. The name Langlois is the 15th most common family name and Martin the12th . Therefore, it wasn't a matter of someone having a very rare name and thus was given a popular dit name because it would not have changed the fact that the name was rare.

I think a thorough study of dit names, naming conventions, usage, and practises needs to be done. After 8 years of genealogical research into French family history including but not limited to Catudal family history I can only say that there appears to be a myriad of reasons dit names were used not readily definable because the practise was often times solely subjective and had nothing to do with custom, tradition or law.

The last person who I am aware of to have used the dit name of St-Jean and St. John in favour of dropping their birth name of Catudal was Magloire Catudal (1903-1977) who was baptized under the name Catudal without the dit name of St-Jean and who married under the name Magloire Catudal without the dit name of St-Jean but who, after moving from Québec to Alberta used the dit name of St-Jean and St. John. His decision to use the dit name instead of his birth name may have had something to do with the fact that it is said that he left Québec shortly after marrying so as to avoid the law. Apparently the authorities were closing in on him because of his side business, moon-shining. Anyhow, I am not aware of anyone after the early 1970's who dropped their birth name of Catudal in favour of the dit name of St-Jean or St. John.

A good source for dit name lists is at