Thursday 25 October 2012

French Naming Conventions

The Use of Last Names - In General

Until recent times in history, the 11th century, last names were not used. There were a lot less people and generally you were known as ‘John the baker’s son’ or Mary the seamstress from Orono.

The tradition of using a surname took hold among the nobility first, and then gradually, by the 14th century, most people started to adopt a last name.
Did you know?
Last names began to be used by commoners at different times throughout Europe. The practice came into fashion in France in the 13th century while it didn’t take hold in Germany until the 16th century. Last name usage was not compulsory in some Scandinavian countries until the 20th century.

Today in Iceland and Norway last names are still not used by its Native population and even though non-Natives do have last names they do not use them in day-to-day dealings. I recently was on vacation in Iceland and took a look at their telephone book. People are listed by their first names first and then by their last names. So, in order to find someone in the telephone book you first look-up the person by their first name and then follow down the list until you find their last name.
Last name usage in the beginning, by our standards, was somewhat confusing. A person could be called Sam Taylor because he sewed and his daughter could be named Sandra Atwood, because she lived near the woods. If you came to a town you had never been to before then you would not know that Sandra Atwood was Sam Taylor’s daughter.

It was not until the 15th century that surnames began to be inherited rather than to be taken from one’s appearance, job, town and a whole host of other possibilities.

Please keep in mind that this is a very general look at how last names came into being and how they were formed. Last name usage was and still is a very complex subject and varies immensely through-out the world.

Saint’s Names

In 1703 the Rituel du Diocèse de Québec was written. This book set out the rules, which the church and its people were to follow, including the names one was allowed to choose when naming their child.

“The Church forbids Priests from allowing profane or ridiculous names to be given to the child, such as Apollon, Diane, etc. But it commands that the child be given the name of a male or female Saint, depending on its sex, so that it can imitate the virtues and feel the effects of God’s protection.”1

The list includes 1,251 acceptable names for boys and 373 for girls.1

The Structure of French-Canadian First Name

Up until the mid-1900s French-Canadian first names given at the time of baptism had a certain structure. Usually, not always, the child was given three names. The first name, often Marie or Joseph indicated the sex of the baby. The second name was often the name of the sex appropriate God-parent. The third was the name the child was called.

Sometimes the child’s baptism record may only show one or two of the names, usually the first and second but not the name the child was called. Sometimes the child was baptized with only one name but the family bible shows the three names. For instance, my Grandfather, Adelard, was baptized as Napoleon, period. When I asked my Grandmother what my grandfather’s full name had been she said Joseph Napoleon Adelard; however, I had never seen the name Joseph associated with him. Never-the-less, my Grandfather is known to have had all three names. As an aside - Napoleon was not my grandfather’s Godfather’s name - there is always an exception to the rule.

Another example is my grandmother. She was baptized as Marie Anna Anastasia Yvonne Tremblay. She was called, in everyday life, Yvonne.

Baptismal Names

Often times, especially in small rural towns, two or more children born roughly at the same time but to different parts of the extended family will have the same names. It was, up until the late 1800s, usual when baptizing a child to give it the sex appropriate name of the godparent. For instance, a man named Ignace Lafrance has two brothers: one named Jean-Baptiste and the other Jean-Paul. Jean-Baptiste and his wife have a baby one month before his brother Jean-Paul and his wife have their baby. Jean-Baptiste’s baby is a boy and so they ask Ignace if he would act as the godfather. The baby is baptized with the name Ignace. One month later Jean-Paul and his wife have their baby and it too is a boy. They also ask Ignace if he would be their child’s godfather. Now you have three people named Ignace Lafrance in one small town, two of whom are roughly the same age. It can make determining kinships a bit tricky.

Sometimes gender specific names were given to the opposite sex but almost always appear as the second name, such as Marie Joseph for a female or Jean Marie for a male.

Some names that now-a-days are gender specific were earlier also gender specific but for the opposite gender, such as Phillipe which was historically a female name but now is a male name, or the name Anne which was a male name but now almost exclusively a female name.

Reuse of First Names

It is extremely common to find, in the French-Canadian family, all boys and all girls being given the same sex appropriate first name such as Jean for the boys or Marie for the girls. A family’s naming profile might look like this: Marie-Louise, Marie-Angélique, Marie, Marie-Josephe, Jean-Louis, Jean-Baptiste and Jean-Paul. The child in question would be called by the second name most often but it is also common to see for instance Marie-Louise documented on her marriage certificate simply as Marie making it impossible without other documentation to tell the difference between her and her sister who only carries the name Marie.

Many times one will find huge errors in the genealogical record due to mistaking one person for another because of the practice of giving the same first name to more than one child. An example of this can be found with the person for whom our first Catudal to come to New France worked. His name was François Duplessis dit Faber (1689-1762); his brother’s name was François Antoine Duplessis dit Faber (1703-1733). Some very reputable researchers have interchanged the two brothers without realizing it because the second brother often was simply called François. Both brothers were in the New France military. One of the two brothers died in 1733 during a battle between the Renard (Fox), the Sauk Indians and the French. The other brother upon retiring went to France to spend out his final days. It is the latter François Duplessis dit Faber (1689-1762) for whom our Jean-Baptiste Catudal dit St-Jean worked.

Another practice, which was very common amongst our French ancestors, was to re-use the name of a child who had died. This practice was used up until around the early 1930s after which it seems to have gone out of favour.

A practice which has been a major stumbling block to some people researching family history is the practice of re-naming a child the same name as one of the children in the same family who did not die. Although this is rare, and I have to admit I do not understand the dynamics, it did occur or at least that is what the records show. I am not referring to the practise I discussed above where-by all boys and all girls in one family would all be given the same sex appropriate first name, usually Marie and Joseph, but would be called something else in everyday life. I mean that some families show two children with identical names who grow-up and get married and have their own children all the while using the same first name.

French-Canadian Women Kept/Keep Their Maiden Names

French-Canadian women living in Québec today keep their maiden name and are known by that name in religious, administrative and legal documents; not by their husband’s names. It has always been so; even when present day Québec was a part of New France.

As a part of the civil law system found only in Québec, the rest of Canada follows the British common law system; women in present day Québec continue to use their maiden name for all things official.

The present day French-Canadian women living in Québec may be introduced as Mrs. Chabot wife of Mr. Chabot at a gathering but for all things outside of a social gathering she is referred to by her maiden name.

When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763 bringing an end to French rule and to New France, the present day province of Québec was formed albeit quite different in land mass as we know of it today. It was only a thin strip of land that lay on the North shore of the St. Lawrence River. However, what had been New France territory until then still housed a large number of French speaking people who still practiced the French ways. This included women who often times kept their maiden names

Once British rule began and a border between the United States and Canada was established, Canada came under British rule. Those who strayed outside of Québec, although allowed to maintain their traditions, often found it easier to conform to the British common law system. By the late 1800s one can see some of our relatives start to move out of Québec to other parts of Canada, mostly Ontario but also to Alberta and to the USA. The further a-field they went the more likely they were to adopt the naming conventions of the British.

French-Canadian women of the next generation outside of Québec started to take their husband’s name much more readily. This trend started to change in and around the early 1970s and early 1980s when it became a cry from the women’s liberation camps that women should be allowed and encouraged to keep their maiden name.

Today it is fairly common to see women throughout The United States and Canada using their maiden names in favour of the option to adopt their husband’s name. In most parts of Western Europe, women are known under their husband’s name – that part of women’s liberation never quite caught on in Europe.

Alterations by Personal Choice

A common phenomenon which started upon immigration to the new world was that people changed their own names for any number of reasons: to sound less ethnic, to be more pronounceable in English, to change a surname which had unpleasant connotations associated with it, or maybe simply to be able to hide. Often times the names were direct translations of their original names, Schneider to Taylor or Schwarz to Black.

First name alterations were also fairly common and can often be seen when French Canadians went to the States in search of work in the late 1800s. You often see simple alterations such as someone changing a first name from Jean to John or François to Frank and the like. Sometimes our relatives changed their names completely, so much so that the new name might not have resembled their birth name at all as in the case of two brothers, Dominique Catudal (1827-) [2643] and Jean-Marie Catudal (1831-After 1880) [2654] who both moved to Vermont in the late 1850s. Once there they changed their names to John St. John; both of them. They lived in the same town and both took the same name.

In present day Canada the Change of Name Act, R.S.O 1990, c. C.7 Section (2) states that if one changes their name then as a matter of confidentiality the following will happen:

(a) the application shall be sealed and filed in the office of the Registrar General;

(b) no notice of the change of name shall be published in The Ontario Gazette and no notice of the application or of the change of name shall be given to the Ministry of the Solicitor General or any person;

(c) if the person’s birth was registered in Ontario, the original registration shall be withdrawn from the registration files and sealed in a separate file, and a new birth registration showing the new name shall be made; and

(d) the change of name shall not be entered in the change of name index or noted under section 31 of the Vital Statistics Act . R.S.O. 1990, c. C.7, s. 8 (2); 1997, c. 17, s. 4 (4, 5); 2006, c. 19, Sched. B, s. 3.

God help the genealogists who come after us, they do not stand a chance of finding someone who decides to change his or her name.

Not only is it possible in present day Canada to change your last name but also your first and or middle names as well. I once worked with Bridget. Bridget was her third attempt at finding a first name that she felt suited her; she had always kept her last name intact though.

Alterations Not By Personal Choice — “Do You Ear What I Ear[1]

Anthropology is made up of four disciplines: Social Anthropology – the study of cultures, Archaeology – the study of artifacts  Physical or Biological Anthropology and Linguistics – the study of language. While majoring in Anthropology I remember sitting in my first year class of Linguistics and the professor saying uhungry? wachyaeet? Most understood him to mean ‘are you hungry? what did you eat?’ and that was indeed what he had said. He had just speeded up the words and cut off the endings of the words as we might do when talking to friends. He used to like doing this at the beginning of class; a sort of attention-getter and many times we did not have a clue what he had said. I learnt that particularly across cultures that one might think they are hearing one thing but without the experience or benefit of the other’s language or culture we can make some amazing errors in judgment about what we hear.

When an English speaking enumerator took the census in a predominantly French speaking area, often times the French names were spelt the best way he could make out from the sound of the name. Often times the English enumerator just did not care to be accurate. There has always existed a tension between the French and English parts of Canada and we see many interesting adulterations of French names because of this.

Other problems occurred such as a person being asked their name, misunderstanding the question because they spoke another language and then answering the assumed question. Rather than understanding the question “What is your name?” they may have thought they were being asked “Where do you come from?” So an answer of Les Cèdres instead of Massias would cause the official to put down something like Cedar. From then on the person would be known as Mr. or Mrs. Cedar.

During a census it was not uncommon for the person answering the door to be a child who sometimes mispronounced their last name so that the census taker might have documented Lafrance for Lafrain or Tompay for Tremblay.

When depending on someone else’s memory to ascertain a third party’s surname it can often times be falsely recounted. For instance, you ask your grandfather the married name of his Aunt who has been dead for 20 years and who was never really welcomed in the family after her marriage to the rotten so-and-so. He might remember her married name as Laspé when in reality it was Lapres. After not having used or referred to a particular surname for a long time people can easily mix it up just enough so that the name they say no longer has any relationship to what the actual name had been.

Spelling and Standardized Spellings

How many times have you given your name to someone only to have him or her ask you “how do you spell that?” It is assumed that you can answer the question. It was not always so.

Once last names came into use the next problem occurred and that was how to spell the last name. Most people did not read or write so it was left to the person recording an event to write the name the best way they could. Perhaps at another event the person’s name would be written down by someone else. Sometimes in both occurrences the name was spelled the same; many times this did not happen. I have seen records referencing the same person, documented by the very same priest over the course of some years with different spellings of the person’s last name.

A big obstacle when searching records for a certain name is that there are no standardized spellings of first or last names. This means that a name can be spelt many different ways, without making a spelling error, but sound identical to one another: Case in point, Audet, Audette, Odet and Odette or the German name Myer, Maier and Meier.

Bad Handwriting and Faded Records

As you know, very few people in the history of our Country and consequently our family could read and write. Those who could sometimes wrote just beautifully. They were in the minority. Handwriting can be so sloppy that it makes the record useless to anyone. Now with the use of computers the problem of misspelling is becoming rarer but the transcription of the old documents into various databases by well meaning people who do not document when there is a question regarding spelling and make a ‘best guess’ is now becoming a fairly big problem. There are standardized methods people should employ when copying data from old records and that includes copying exactly what is there even if it does not make sense. One can always make a note about what one thinks about what was documented but it is only an opinion. Many people are now putting their guesses into a growing number of databases.

Consistency of Last Name Usages

For some unknown reason many of our relatives oscillated between their last name and their dit name without apparent rhyme or reason. Often records of our Catudal relatives suddenly have them documented as St-Jean and back again. I have found no consistencies in this phenomenon.


In Genealogy all names can be sound coded in order that one can look for all possible sound-alikes and this ‘sound coding’ is called soundex.

<algorithm, text> An algorithm for encoding a word so that similar sounding words encode the same.

The first letter is copied unchanged then subsequent letters are encoded as follows:
bfpv  = “1”
cgjkqsxzç  = “2”
dt = “3”
l = “4”
mnñ = “5”
r = “6”

Other characters are ignored and repeated; characters are encoded as though they were a single character. Encoding stops when the resulting string is four characters long, adding trailing “0”s if it is shorter. For example, “SMITH” or “SMYTHE” would both be encoded as “S530”.7

The name Catudal has a soundex code of C334, which means that the names Cautal, Cottel, Catadal and 50 other names must be considered when searching for Catudal. This covers only sound-alikes.

The Meaning of  the Name Catudal

The name Catudal comes from the Breton language. Catudal comes from the name Caduudal which is first seen in the record from 840 to 847 and from the name Cadodal which appears in 1060. The prefix Cat, in the ancient Breton language, means combat. 11,12 ‘Uuo’ is a preposition and a prefix meaning ‘enough’. The ending ‘Tal’ means ‘to have value’ or ‘to make payment’. Therefore, the name Catudal means something a kin to, ‘to be good at battle’.

Please keep in mind that although the Catudal name can be traced to the 800s, it does not mean that we have any relationship to those who may have carried that name because, as mentioned above, last name usage did not start until the 11th century among royalty and the 14th century for the rest of the population of France, and it was not until the 15th century that last names were handed down from father to child. Just because someone was known as he who is good in battle does not mean that we are related to him. It does not mean that we are not related but rather that we cannot assume that to be the case.

The dit name of St-Jean has both habitational and religious roots. Many places in France carry this name. The place names were given as a dedication to Saint John the Baptist.

Be Very Flexible

I remember one of the first people I entered in my database was my great grandfather Alfred Tremblay. I had some trouble finding a record of him because someone had gone and spelt his name as Fred Trembly. Well! I thought. What is wrong with them! I recounted this experience to a member of the Nipissing branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society looking for sympathy. She started to laugh. She said, “Is that all?” Now some ten years later I often look back on that time with a wistful gaze and think to myself “If only it were that easy all of the time.”

Dit Names

A very important aspect to French Canadian naming conventions is 'dit' name usage. For an in-depth discussion of dit name usage please see my blog 

Sources — Specific

1.         Electronic Source; Montréal, PRDH-Programme de recherche en démographie historique Université de. First and Last Names. In,
2.         Electronic Source; 2005, Musée de la civilisation. Men of Faith and Action. In,
3.         Electronic Source; Couture, Patrick. La Nouvelle-France-New France Map. In, - On page 57.
4.         Book; Goodridge, Alberta: Goodridge Social and Agricultural Society. Harvest of Memories: A History of the Districts of Beaverton, Goodridge, Larkin, Maloy, Truman and White Rat, 1999.
5.         Book; Society, Forgotten Echoes Historical. Forgotten Echoes: A History of Blackfoot and Surrounding Area, 1982.
6.         Electronic Journal; “Do You Ear What I Ear.”
7.         Electronic Journal; “Definition: Soundex.”
8.         Electronic Source; Wikipedia. Genealogy. In,
9.         Electronic Source; Name History and Origin For. In,
10.      Electronic Journal; Wikipedia. “Image: Bretagen Map.Png.”
11.      Loth, J. M. (1884). Vocabulaire vieux-breton. Paris,, F. Vieweg.
12.      Loth, J. M. (1890). Chrestomathie bretonne. Paris,, É. Bouillon.

Sources — General

Luc Lépine, The Military Roots of the ‘dit’ Names (From December 2002 Connections ©2002 QFHS – Québec Family History Society)
Linda W. Jones, Genealogy: Acadian & French-Canadian Style
Bob Quintin, The “dit” Name in Franco-American Genealogy
Rev. Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles Canadiennes, Volume 7
André Corvisier, L’Armée française de la fin du XVIIe siècle au ministère Choiseul: le soldat, Paris, 1964, 2 volumes.
Robert J. Quintin, The “Dit” Name: French-Canadian Surnames, Aliases, Adulterations and Anglicizations.

[1]          Neil, Michael John. Ancestry Daily News article. 27 July 1999.h ttp://

Tuesday 8 May 2012

How Do You Pronounce The Name Catudal?

Many names have more than one possibility on how one can pronounce them but the variations on the pronunciation of the name Catudal runs the gambit of possibilities.

I posted the question on the Internet asking those who have the Catudal name or come from a Catudal family to tell me how they pronounce their name. Here are the answers:

Ca-Da-Dal, Cat-U-Dal, Ca-Tu Dal, Catch-U-Dal, Cat-Uh-Dal, Cat-Sue-Dal, Ca-Tu-Del, Ka-too-dul, Cat-ah-dal and Cat-a-dell.

A cousin of mine, Michel Catudal, told me that the French do not pronounce the ‘u’ in Catudal like ‘oo’ but rather more like a ‘ü‘ which does not have an English equivalent.

Laurie Catudal Campbell, told me that as she grew up she did not like all the mispronunciations. She said that “Cat-oodle“ was a common mispronunciation. She also endured a lot of teasing in the form of children asking “if we had caught our doll yet“.

Donald E. Catudal said that he dreaded the first day of school each year because “The teacher would always butcher our name and everyone would laugh. I think they would say Ka-too-dul and laughs ensued.”

Two people who responded were adamant that how they pronounced the Catudal name was the ‘right’ way; both, however, pronounced the name different from one another.

So the answer to how the name Catudal is or should be pronounced is to pronounce it the way you do. Whichever way that you do pronounce Catudal, one thing is for sure; you will be asked to spell it.

Thursday 23 February 2012

The Plot Thickens - Jacques Catudal and the Rebellion of 1837-1838

Some time ago I posted a bit about how Jacques Catudal (1794-1873) moved his family from St-Jean-Baptiste de Rouville to Napierville seemingly to get away from his family. The move happened sometime between 1827 and 1829. After the move there was no further involvement between Jacques and the other Catudals, except for a very short contact period with Jacques’ brother Honoré some 20 years later. By no contact I mean that Jacques did not appear on any baptism, marriage or burial record as a witness for any of his siblings or cousins and they did not appear on any of his or his children’s records after the move.

Jacques created a story that he passed on to his children and their children and that was that he had been born in France and that a close relative, presumably his brother, Georges Cadoudal had been tried and convicted of treason and had faced the gallows. The rest of the family had been given the options to either face the same fate or leave France. They chose the latter and came to Canada.

In my book The Families Catudal I tell the story of why I believed that Jacques moved away and made up this elaborate story – in short here: During the Rebellion of 1837/38 Jacques' family seem to have been heavily involved as Patriots of the movement; in fact, Jacques’ brother Gabriel was killed at the battle of St-Charles on 25 November 1837 (the books say it was Jacques brother Louis who was killed but the priest presiding over the burial of the fallen man mixed up the names of the two brothers and it was actually Louis’ and Jacques’ brother Gabriel who was killed – I have very strong circumstantial proof to substantiate this claim and if you want the proof just e-mail me at and I’ll be happy to show you). Jacques on the other hand was a Loyalist and fought on the side of the English during the Rebellion. I thought that was reason enough for the split in family relations but recently I found out a bit more...

Recently I had the good fortune to come into contact with Richard Brown who is the retired Head of History and Citizenship at Manshead School (England) who has among other accomplishments written many books one of which caught my eye and that was My Three Rebellions: Canada 1837-1838, South Wales 1839 and Victoria, Australia 1854. I contacted Richard and we corresponded back and forth. I told him about my research regarding distant family members and how they fought on opposing sides. He sent me a link for the site Les Patriotes de 1837@1838, Les Rébellions de Bas-Canada. Richard told me that he recognized the name Catudal and the link is where he had come across that name in association with the Rebellion.

The site has some java problems!!!  You can do a search for the name Catudal on the site and it will come back with the results but if you try to see any of the documents then, if your system is like mine, it brings back an error and I have to do a CTRL ALT DEL to kill my browser session before I can use my browser after that or I have to reboot, so be careful – I have written to the admin of the site but he has not replied. Anyhow, it isn’t necessary to retrieve the documents in order to see the big picture.

The break between Jacques and the rest of the Catudal family probably did not happen between the years 1827 and 1829 but rather most likely after July of 1836 and definitely over a difference in political ideologies. You see, Jacques Catudal was a Patriot and not only attended Patriot meetings, he was an organizer. As late as 1836 he is shown as having started a petition with others encouraging people to join the movement. He actively participated in meetings as can be seen in July of 1836 by him moving a motion and seconding another in one of the meetings.

That means that Jacques Catudal, for whatever reason switched sides mid-Rebellion. He was a turncoat! That sure would have been quite a blow to the rest of the family and it may not have been only Jacques' wish to distance himself from the Catudal clan but just as much the wish of the rest of the family that he stay away.

Richard Brown told me that it wasn't completely unknown for Patriots to change sides. Richard wrote "It’s one of the great imponderables of the rebellions in Lower Canada why many people who had been Patriotes in the mid-1830s chose not to support the rebels and, as in Jacques’ case, actively supported the authorities."

Monday 9 January 2012

Another Catudal Mystery

Update - the updated information is in red within this blog post:

Recently a cousin of mine wrote to me to ask me if I knew anything about some stories that had been told to him by his father who had, in turn, been told the stories to by his father. The line of Catudals that the story comes from is the line starting at Magloire Catudal (1831-1891), my direct line in fact. Before commenting let me tell you what was passed on to me:

My cousin said that his grandfather had told his father that some of our ancestors had fled from France to Ireland to escape the Revolution. Marie Antoinette’s name had some sort of significance to the story as well but what, is not known.

He said that the Catudal family was loyal to France’s nobility and when the French Revolution was gaining power the Catudal family fled to Ireland where they stayed hidden. Some made their passage to the New World along with some Irish immigrants.

The story goes on: Apparently one of our great uncles went to France to fight for a heritage claim.

We were the closest family line that should have received the heritage. The story is that financial resources were collected inside my family to send one of our family members to represent us in court in Europe (France?) for a court dispute. The dispute in court went for so long that our ancestor ran out of money and had no choice but to abandon and to come back in North America.

The amount laid claim to was worth 100,000,000.00 (One hundred million!) – Dollars or Francs, the denomination was not known.

That is one heck of a story! Is it true? Have any of you heard anything about a Catudal connection to Ireland? to a legacy that had such a huge value?? A couple of days ago I was watching an episode of Genealogy Roadshow and someone had a story quite similar to the one above. The professional Genealogist told her about a fairly common practice in the late 1800's and early 1900's and that was how some Genealogists would scam unsuspecting families by telling them that they were related to an influential person and that they had a claim against that said person's estate. The amount, the lady on the show was told, apparently owed to her family was in excess of 70,000,000.

What the Genealogist would do is make-up a story about the family line, leading to a person of some importance, where none existed. They would ask the family for money to send a lawyer overseas to fight to have the fortune transferred to the family. The family would invariably pay. The amount would only go so far and the family would be asked to send more money and more and more until there was no more money to send. Of course, there never was a court hearing the case, nor a bank holding the money.

It's sort of the same concept that we now have with the e-mails we get saying that we are entitled to millions because a family in some remote part of the world all died in a plane crash. We're asked to help 'launder' the money as such and for our trouble we'll receive some millions in return.

That is why I could find no records of any connection to a Catudal family in Ireland, nor could I find any ship's list entry for a Catudal from this particular branch travelling to Ireland nor to Europe for that matter.

I think we can safely say, case closed.

An addendum:
The most famous scammer of them all was Gustav Anjour who wrote some 150 family history books which he then presented to various families 'proving' their connection to someone of worth. He then swindled those families out of as much money as he could get. I checked the list of families he did this to and Catudal/St-Jean/St. John were not among the names. Like I said, there were quite a few charlatans operating this scam at the time.

Here are a few links for further reading - this isn't the only scam that some so called Genealogist have pulled and are still pulling!!

There are a ton of sites on the subject. And to think, I didn't know about any of this until a couple days ago. Thankfully, I've never relied on other people's genealogies when I've done my research - always looking for proof about what someone claims.

This story has a number of parallels to the story created by Jacques Catudal (1794-1873) to distance himself from his Catudal relatives; the story that said that he came from the Georges Cadoudal line and when Georges was beheaded for having tried to assassinate Napoleon this line of Catudals was given the option to either leave France or face the same fate as Georges. They left and came to the safety of Canada. This story is a total fabrication; however, here are the parallels between my cousins story and the Catudal/Cadoudal legend:

  • The setting for both stories is the French Revolution
  • Georges Cadoudal was a rebel in that he was devoutly loyal to the French nobility. Napoleon on the other hand was a radical Republican. In fact in 1791 he was the president of the local Jacobin club whose mission was to wipe out aristocrats and bishops. The parallel - the story from my cousin states that our Catudal line in France was loyal to the monarchy.
  • The year 1793 was significant to Marie Antoinette, Napoleon Bonaparte and Georges Cadoudal. Marie Antoinette was tried and executed in October 1793. Napoleon’s first noteworthy military action was when he managed to take back Toulon from the rebel forces in November 1793.  It was in 1793 that Georges Cadoudal, a Chouannerie (royalist uprising), started the western rebellion of France in Vendee, Bretagne against the Revolution. The parallel - the story from my cousin mentions the French Revolution.
  • Georges Cadoudal did flee to England a number of times to escape when the French forces got too close to capturing him. The parallel - the story from my cousins mentions the apparent need of our Catudal family members having had to flee to Ireland because of the French Revolution.

Inconsistencies between the legend of a Catudal/Cadoudal connection and the story from my cousin:
  • The biggest discrepancy is that the name of Georges Cadoudal is not a part of the story from my cousin but does play a major role in the legend of a Catudal/Cadoudal connection.
  • There is an inheritance in my cousin’s story and no mention of one in the Georges Cadoudal legend. In fact Georges wasn’t particularly well off at all nor did he come from an affluent family.
  • Georges went to England to avoid capture while the story from my cousin has Ireland as the country.
  • Although not terribly significant, one of the differences between the two stories is that I have never heard of this new story before. I have spent more than 8 years intensely researching all things Catudal and have written 2 very large volumes on the topic and till now have never heard a mention of anything like this. What is also strange is that this story comes from my direct line: Magloire was my great great grandfather.
  • Something else rather strange is that the story or legend of the Catudal/Cadoudal connection was told to me by several people, all of whom come from the line starting at Jacques Catudal (1794-1873). It was Jacques who made up the story to distance himself and his children from the rest of the Canadian Catudals. My line of Catudals, the line with this new story, does not cross paths with Jacques' line. In fact you have to go all the way back to the first Catudal in New France before there is a connection between the two.

My cousin does not know which person went to Europe, presumably France, to fight for this huge inheritance but his understanding is that it was one of Magloire Catudal’s sons.

So my question is have you heard of this new Catudal mystery? If you have could you please e-mail me at It would be great to be able to find out if this new story is in fact a true story or if somehow it is a variation on the Catudal/Cadoudal legend.

Just as an aside, I have checked ship’s passenger lists showing passengers coming from Europe to Canada and the States and have not found anyone with the name Catudal, or one of its variants /adulterations /dit forms /misspellings, on any list that cannot be accounted for. I mean that every Catudal on every ship that I have been able to find were Canadian or American Catudals travelling to and fro either for work or pleasure. There were no stray Catudals on those lists. Please keep in mind, that isn't conclusive proof at all; it just means that all sources I am aware of holding such data have no record of Catudals from Ireland or France as having immigrated to Canada or the States.