All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Tag: France

Sometimes it pays to look to the present for information about the past.

It’s amazing what information about the past including people and events can be found by searching through online newspapers, magazines, etc. – even if they are in a foreign language.

I’m routinely having to read, translate and understand documents written in their original language such as French, German, Swedish, and so on. My go to method for getting started is accessing ‘Google Translate’. To have a web page translated, just type the complete original language url in the Google search box, press ‘search’, find what you’re looking for in the search results list and click on ‘Translate this page’.

El Economista TranslatedOne such site I’ve recently accessed was ‘El Economista’ a Mexican, Spanish language online newspaper. On this particular day, the headlines were dominated by news of Javier Duarte de Ochoa and his handling of the crisis created by the recent tropical storm. Javier Duarte is the Governor of Veracruz, Mexico.

Above is a clip from the Google translated site mentioned and as you can see the text in the first paragraph is quite understandable, although not quite grammatically correct. I would always suggest finding independent confirmation elsewhere to confirm your understanding, if possible.

I routinely search through newspapers in the areas in which I’m researching and I have stumbled upon some real ‘gems’ related to my research, including a rooming house arson fire a recent ancestor escaped from, another ancestor whose name was published as a deserter in WWI, and most recently news of a tragic train crash in a community from which my own father’s French Canadian family originates. It was particularly heartbreaking to read the names of the deceased in the online French language news sites, and to recognize many of them as distant relatives.

Using Google translate  is also a useful tool if transcribing documents from their original language. Go to the main Google translate page, type the text in question in the left box, making sure it’s labeled with the correct language and click ‘Translate’. The English translation will appear to the right if English is the selected language. Text can be translated to and from numerous languages.

photo credit: Augie Schwer via photopin cc

Melansons and the Acadian Expulsion

The British conquered Acadia from the French in 1710 and subsequently, the Acadians refused to sign an unconditional oath of allegiance to Britain. At this time, the Acadians and Mi’kmaq formed militia against the British and as a result of what the British viewed as the rebellious actions of some of the Acadians, British Governor Charles Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council ordered the expulsion of all the Acadians. This action led to the deaths of thousands of Acadians.
The Acadian people were expelled from what are now the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island between 1755 and 1763 and were deported to Britain, France and other British colonies.

Fort Edward in 1753

Fort Edward, in what was then Pisiguit (Windsor, Nova Scotia) played an important role in the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755) of the Acadian Expulsion. Fort Edward was one of four forts in which Acadians were imprisoned over the nine years of the expulsion (the others were Fort Frederick, Saint John, New Brunswick; Fort Cumberland; and Fort Charlotte, Georges Island, Halifax).
In the early 1760’s it was illegal for Acadians to reside in Nova Scotia. Families and individuals who had avoided capture in 1755 were imprisoned. The prison lists for Fort Edward between 1761-1762 still exist (For a list of the prisoners see List of Acadian Prisoners – Fort Edward). There was Acadian and Mi’kmaq resistance to the Expulsion. In April of 1757, a band of Acadians and Mi’kmaq raided a warehouse near Fort Edward, killing thirteen British soldiers and, after taking what provisions they could carry, setting fire to the building. A few days later, the same group also raided Fort Cumberland.

Fort Beausejour in 1755

Fort Beauséjour, (later known as Fort Cumberland) is located at the Isthmus of Chignecto in present day Aulac, New Brunswick, Canada. This fort was famous for the Battle of Fort Beauséjour, which was both the final act in the long fight between Britain and France for control of Acadia and the beginning of the final struggle between the two great empires for North America itself. Fort Beauséjour was one of several French forts erected to strengthen the French position in North America against the British.
In 1755, there was a major battle at Fort Beauséjour. It was also the site of the start of the Expulsion of the Acadians and the area was afterward subjected to the resistance of the Mi’kmaq and Acadians. On June 4, 1755, British forces and militia attacked Fort Beauséjour from their base at Fort Lawrence. After taking control of Fort Beauséjour by June 16, 1755, they changed its name to Fort Cumberland. After the capture of the fort, British forces attempted to convince Acadians of the Beaubassin region to sign the oath of allegiance demanded by the British Crown; however the Acadians refused, stating that they would rather remain neutral. Some of the captured Acadians who remained reported that they were forced to help defend Fort Beauséjour. Armed with this information, the British planned and executed the expulsion of Acadians in August 1755.
This event was the start of what would come to be known as the Great Upheaval (le Grand Dérangement) of Acadian society. It commenced with the Acadians in the Beaubassin region. British forces burnt Acadian homes at Beaubassin and the vicinity of the fort to prevent their return. Fort Cumberland became one of four sites in which Acadians were imprisoned during the nine years of the expulsion, including Fort Edward.
Pierre “Parrotte” Melanson was born in 1720 in Port Royal (later Annapolis Royal). Pierre “Parrotte” Melanson and Marie Josephe Granger (my 5th great grandparents) were married on 1 Feb 1746 in Port Royal. Marie Josèphe Granger, daughter of Laurens Granger and Marie Bourg, was born on 12 Jan 1723 in Port Royal. He and Marie Josèphe had six children: Marie-Josèphe, Jean “Janne”, Osite, Pierre, David and Dominique-Pierre. Escaping deportation during the Acadian Expulsion, Pierre, Marie Josephe and their three living children, Marie-Josephe, Janne and David (see below for more information about the children), sought refuge in the Petitcodiac region (today in New Brunswick) from 1755 to 1760. They were captured and subsequently held prisoner at Fort Edward between 1761 and 1763. They then lived as captives in Fort Cumberland, between 1763 and 1768. Their youngest son Dominique-Pierre was born in captivity at Fort Cumberland. Pierre “Parrotte” and his family lived after their release from Fort Cumberland in Minudie, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, where he died about 1791 at the age of 71. His wife Marie Josèphe remained in Minudie until her death about 1790 at the age of 67.
Marie-Josèphe Melanson was born on 4 Mar 1747 in Port Royal. Marie-Josèphe Melanson and Jean-Augustin Gaudet, son of Augustin Gaudet and Agnés Chiasson, were married about 1767 while in captivity at Fort Edward. They lived as captives in Fort Edward between 1761 and 1763, and then also in captivity in Fort Cumberland between 1763 and 1768. They had nine children: Marie-Madeleine, Isabelle, Marie-Anne “Nannette”, Marguerite, Jean, Marguerite, Pierre, Pélagie and Sauveur and they all settled in Westmoreland County, New Brunswick, Canada.
Jean “Janne” Melanson was born on 12 Aug 1749 in Port Royal. Janne lived as a captive along with his family in Fort Edward between 1761 and 1763. He lived as a captive along with his family in Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada between 1763 and 1768. Janne later died in Minudie.  Jean “Janne” Melanson and Modeste “Ursule” Forest (4th great grandparents), daughter of Charles Forest and Marie Chiasson, were married on 20 Nov 1773 in Franklin Manor, Minudie. Janne and Modeste had seven children, Louise “Lizette”, Henriette, Romain “Roma”, Apollonie, Pélagie, Rose Anne and Pierre Melanson (3rd great grandfather).
David Melanson was born in 1755 in Port Royal. He lived as an escapee with his family in Petitcodiac between 1755 and 1761. He lived with his family in Fort Edward between 1761 and 1763 and in Fort Cumberland between 1763 and 1768. David Melanson married firstly Marguerite Leblanc, daughter of Joseph Leblanc and Marie Doiron, about 1776 in Minudie, Cumberland County. They had eleven children: Pierre, Cécile, Rosalie, Dominique, Fabien, Firmin, Brigitte, Joseph “dit Magoune”, Gertrude, Romain “Roma” and François. David became a land owner from land grants in Dorchester Crossing and Scoudouc, New Brunswick. David and Marguerite both died in Memramcook, Westmorland County, she in 1810 and he in 1834. Marguerite is among those originally buried at the old Memramcook parish cemetery that were exhumed and re-interred at the new church’s cemetery (St. Thomas) when it opened in 1840.
David married secondly Anne Nanette Richard, daughter of René “petit René de Beaupré” and Perpétue Bourgeois, on 4 Feb 1811 in Memramcook, Westmorland County. They were granted dispensations for third to fourth degree of consanguinity and a third degree of affinity. She died shortly after their marriage at the age of 44 in Memramcook.
Dominique-Pierre Melanson was born in captivity in Fort Cumberland in 1765 and was captive there along with his family between 1765 and 1768. Dominique-Pierre Melanson and Anne-Rosalie Babin, daughter of Pierre Babin and Madeleine Bourque, were married on 8 Nov 1783 in Franklin Manor, Minudie. They had five children: Apolline, Isabelle, Laurent “P’Tit Laurent”, Franéçois and Anne. Dominique-Pierre died on 11 Aug 1813 at the age of 48 in Memramcook.

1. Michael B. Melanson, Melanson – Melancon: Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family (Dracut, Massachusetts: Lanesville Publishing, 2004).
2. “Baptism Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
3. “Marriage Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives ( .
4. “Baptism Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives ( .

Transcription: French plaque commemorating Samson settlers.

Plaque of St. Gatien-des-Bois, France commemorating the first Samson settlers was erected at the Church of St. Gatien-des-Blois in January of 1997.

Samson brothers plaque.
Samson brothers plaque.

Inside the church of St Gatien-des-Bois, France (pictured above), a plaque commemorating the first Samson settlers was erected in January of 1997, which reads (translated from French):

“In 1665 the brothers Gabriel and Jacques Samson, born at St. Gatien des Bois and baptized in this church in 1643 and 1647, left to settle in New France, and are the ancestors of numerous descendants living today in Canada and the United States.”

St Gatien des Bois ; Le 15 Janvier 1997.


The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

This homebody wishes to be part of an Acadian trip to France.


Of all of the numerous branches in our family history, there are two of which I am almost obsessive in my interest – and research.


Those are my mother’s Acadian roots and my father-in-law’s Welsh Quaker ancestry.

Featured image: La grande derangement (Acadian Expulsion)


A few years ago, we had the amazing experience of visiting New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for a prolonged camping trip to take in the sights and sounds (and smells) of the lands originally settled by the French Huguenot exiles in the 17th century.

I came across an article on the Daily World website describing a trip to be taken by a group of Acadian descendants from Canada, Louisiana and other US locations. These families had relocated to diverse areas as a result of the Acadian Expulsion (la grande dérangement) at the hands of the British under authority of the king in retaliation for the Acadians’ refusal to swear allegiance to the British king.

La Rochelle, France in 1628.
La Rochelle, France in 1628.

This trip is an amazing opportunity to see and experience the lands from which the original Acadian settlers came.In our family’s case in particular, it would be great to have a chance to visit archives, churches and other repositories to try to trace the origins of our Melanson ancestors.

The couple who originally settled in Acadia were Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla Mellanson, as well as their sons, Pierre, Charles and Jean.

It is widely believed that although they traveled from England, Pierre was originally a Huguenot exile from the La Rochelle area of France, who married Priscilla in England, later traveling to Acadia with his family.

Researchers in the past have been unsuccessful in locating documentation proving Pierre’s origin, and I would love a chance to explore the possibilities in France.

Then again, a tour  may not be the best way as a great deal of personal freedom to explore and time to research would be necessary. Perhaps one day, in our retirement, our dream of traveling Europe will come true and I will have my opportunity.


In Remembrance.


Being from a dedicated military family, this is a somber time of year for us, in remembrance of those in our families who have served, or worse yet, who we lost during military service.


The relationships to our children, Erin and Stuart, are in italics following the excerpt.

Remembering those we lost in battle:


Coon, David 1843

  • Elisha Cadwallader (1840-1862) – Civil War (4th cousin, 7x removed)
  • Private Joseph Turmaine (1889-1916) – First World War(great granduncle)
    • The 27th Battalion, Winnipeg Regiment left at 2 pm, September 14, 1916 for brigade headquarters, arriving at 5 pm. They then left brigade headquarters at 9 pm and proceeded to the front line to take up position in assembly trenches, which was delayed due to congestion of the trenches…


Pte Joseph Philias Albert Emery

Veterans in our family who later passed away:



Cadwalader, General John Cadwalader (Revolutionary War)

  • General John Cadwalader (1742-1785) – Revolutionary War (3rd cousin, 11x removed)
  • Nathan “Hoppity-Kickity” Porter (1742-1815) – French and Indian War (7th great grandfather)


Portrait of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky.

  • Governor Isaac Shelby (1750-1826) – Revolutionary War, War of 1812 (1st cousin, 8x removed)
    • With a sword presented to him by Henry Clay as voted by the legislature of North Carolina for his gallantry at King’s Mountain 32 years before, Shelby assembled and personally led 4,000 Kentucky volunteers to join General Harrison in the Northwest for the invasion of Canada
  • Private John Jaquish (1753-1845) – War of 1812 (6th great grandfather)
  • Quartermaster Joseph Shelby (1787-1846) – Indian Wars (5th great grandfather)
  • James Shreve (rank unknown) (1754-1839) – War of 1812 (6th great grandfather)


Cadwalader, Gen. Thomas.jpg

  • General Thomas Cadwalader (1779-1841) – War of 1812. (3rd cousin 10x removed)


Jaques, William H

  • William Henry Jaques (1820-1913) – Civil War (4th great granduncle)
  • Laurent Jude Melanson (1820-1914) – Fenian Raids (3rd great grandfather)
  • Alfred E. Melanson (c. 1847-?) – Fenian Raids (2nd great granduncle)
  • Private Robinson Coke “Boby” Jones (1822-1897) – Mexican War (4th great grandfather)
  • Private William Seth Cadwallader (1825-    ) – Civil War (4th cousin, 7x removed)
  • John Mumby Blythe (1831-    ) – Civil War (3rd great granduncle)
  • Private Francis Elmer Keefer (1839-1863) – Civil War (3rd great granduncle)
  • Charles George Blythe (1840-1914) – Civil War(3rd great grandfather)
    • …his descendants remained in the Louth and Somercotes areas of Lincolnshire until the emigration of his great grandson Thomas Blyth and Thomas’  sons Charles George (3rd great grandfather to Erin and Stuart), John Mumby and Robert to America…


Keefer, Lenard Scott 2 (maybe) proof needed

  • Leonard Scott Keefer (1841-1916) – Civil War (3rd great granduncle)


Wedding of Elam Dennis Matthews St.

  • William Dennis Matthews (1875-1940) – Spanish American War(2nd great grandfather)
    • Bip, Fred, White and I went down to the armory this evening The Governor’s (Tanner) order, for all Illinois regiments to move to Springfield was read and great applause followed. Came home about 9 o’clock and packed up my belongings…
  • Clayton William Blythe (1883-1943) – First World War (2nd great grandfather)
    • The following men, registered with Selective Service Local Board No. 1, are classified as suspected delinquents. Any person whose name appears upon the list should report immediately to this board, for correction of records.
  • Wesley Elmer Blythe (1890-1977) – First World War (2nd great granduncle)
  • Hervé “Hervey” Turmel (1894-    ) – First World War (4th cousin, 3x removed)


Luther Gummeson

  • Private Luther Gummeson (1895-1934) – First World War (great granduncle)
    • Before enlisting for military service on December 10, 1917, he was a Lutheran and a farmer in Vancouver, BC. Rumour had it that his early death was attributed to being gassed during WWI. Before his death, Luther was living in the Peace River area…
  • Joseph Antonio Tumel (1896-    ) – First World War (2nd cousin, 4x removed)
  • Alfred Turmel (1896-    ) – First World War (2nd cousin, 4x removed)
  • Chester C. Blythe (1908-1995) – General Service (great grandfather)
  • Doyle Clement Cadwallader (1925-1944) (6th cousin, 5x removed)
    • “In the midst of life we are in death.
      In the moment that ye think not,
      In the twinkling of an eye,
      The Angel of Death may appear.”
    • The foregoing quotation seems to me very fitting for Doyle Clement Cadwallader, whose death was caused by an automobile accident while he was returning home on September 30, 1944…


Dad, c. 1955.

Veterans in our family who are still living:




Mark and I with my Mom and Dad at our wedding.


For more facts and dates about the above mentioned individuals, check out our family’s extensive genealogy database linked in the menu bar above.

Transcripton: 1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others.

1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others.


Page 1


Peter and Charles Malonson
1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others, pg 1.

Articles of agreement made this twenty ninth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninty-three and in the thirty third year of His Majesty’s Reign between Mary Cannon of Castle Frederickin the County of Hants and Province of Nova Scotia as attorney for Joseph Frederick, Walter Des Barres Esquire on the one part, and Peter Malonson, Michael Burk, January Peterang Simon Le Blong Jaque Legere Peter Cormier Charles Malonson Gabriel Legere Joseph Legere Isaac Tibodo John Shay and Frederick LeBlong; of Memramcook in the County of Westmoreland and Province of New Brunswick Farmers. Witnesseth that the said Mary Cannon for and in consideration of the sum of fifty one pounds good and lawful money of this said province / the said Peter Melonson, Michael Burk and associated [?] paying the sum of four pounds five shillings each, and a yearly [??] doth grant [?ise] Let unto farm unto Peter Melonson Michael Burk and associates / as aforesaid / a certain part of a Grant of forty thousand acres of Land, now in the possession of Joseph Frederick Walter Des Barres. Situate and bounded on the west  side of Memramcook River to have and to hold for ever and the said Peter Melonson Michael [??] and associates [Js]. Doth promise [t??] themselves their heirs Executors administrators and assigns to pay or [c??] to he unto Joseph Frederick Walter Des Barres his heirs Executors administrators and assigns his agent or agents attorney or attorneys the aforesaid sum of four pounds five shillings each as aforesaid, on or before the first day of May annually and every year. And the first payment to commence on the first day of May next, which will be in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety four and so on from year to year and if it shall happen that the said yearly [??] herein ordered of any part thereof, be behind and unpaid the the space of three calendar months next after the same shall become due as aforesaid and [??] sufficient distress or distresses in or upon the said promises can or may be found whereby the same may be levied that then it shall be lawful to and for the said Joseph Frederick Walter Des Barres h??] is heirs Executors administrators and assigns – his or their agents or attorneys into the said [d??] Premisses or into any part thereof in the name of the whole to Reenter and the same to have again Possessed and Enjoy as in his or their former right and estates, and the said Peter Melonson Michael Burk, and associates for their heirs Executors administrators and assigns from one of the same to expel and put out any thing herein mentioned to the contrary notwithstanding – and the said Peter Melonson Michael Burk and associates [J?] doth promise for themselves their heirs Executors administrators and assigns, shall and will at all times during said term bear pay and discharge all rates taxes charges, Impossitions parish and town duties which shall be payable taxed – charged imposed or assessed upon the aforesaid lands and premises or any part

Page 2

Peter and Charles Malonson
1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others, pg 2.

part thereof the kings [???] Rents only excepted and it is further agreed on by the said parties that should they not be enabled to furnish cash payments of Rent, fat Cattle or good Cattle let for fatting fat weathers sheep ?hipping horses and merchantable grain of different kinds shall be taken in [???] thereof at the current price of valuation and it is further agreed by the said parties that whatsoever work that has been done and paid for and is yet to do / [???] dikes drains and aboiteaux / shall be done upheld and supported in good order and well condition at the cost and expenses of them the said tenants and if the aforesaid Peter Melonson Michael Burk and associates [??] or any of them their heirs Executors administrators  or assigns should incline to Exit or leave the aforesaid premises: then in that case the Landlord his heirs Executors administrators or assigns agents or attorneys to Reenter in the peaceable possession of the aforesaid premises and every part thereof and the said Joseph Frederick Walter Des Barres by his attorney doth [??] himself his heirs Executors administrators and assigns Covenant and agree to and with the said Peter Melonson Michael Burk January Peterang, Simon Le Blong Jaque Legere, Peter Cormean Charles Melonson Gabriel Legere, Joseph Legere Isaac Tibado John Shayer and Frederick Le Blong their heirs Executors administrators and assigns that on their paying the Rent herein Reserved and performing the Covenants and agreements herein mentioned they shall ad may from time to time and at all times during the said term hereby granted Peaceably and quietly enter into hold use,  occupy and enjoy all and singular the Premisses hereby devised with the appurtenances without any [??] trouble or molestation or Interruption of him the said Joseph ———— Frederick Walter Des Barres Esq. his heirs Executors administrators or assigns or of any person or persons lawfully claiming by or from him in witness whereof they the said Mary Cannon Peter Melonson, Michael Burk January Peterang, Simon Le Blong Jaque Legere Peter Cormear Charles Melonson Gabriel Legere Joseph Leger Isaac Tibodo John Shayer and Frederick Le Blong have [???] to set their hands and seals the day and year first here

Page 3

Peter and Charles Malonson and Others.
1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others, pg 3.

Herein written.

Signed dated and Delivered in the presence of / Signed as follows /

[Left Column:]

Charles Melonson

“Gabriel Legere”

“Joseph Legere”

“Isaac Tibodo”

“John Shayer”

“Frederick Le Blong”

[Right Column:]

Peter Melonson

Michael Burk

January Pelerans

Simon Le Blong

Jacque Legere

Peter Cormear

[Left Margin at right angles to main text:]


John Downing

Samuel Cornhill

Peter and Charles Malonson and Others.
1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others, pg 4.

1793 lease for 40,000 acres of land signed by Peter and Charles Malonson and others, pg 3.

Page 4

Copy of unauthorized Lease


Charles Legere, and Laurong Burk were both served with notice to  [???] 23d. Jany 1815. The former is in occupation of Lands Leased with the within Instrument to Jacque Legere deceased, and the latter in occupation of those Leased to January Pellerang by the said within Instrument.


The complete original scans of the document clips above can be accessed by clicking the image.

To access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, click on the name link above, or search the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link in the upper right corner just below the search box and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results do sometimes differ.

All data on this site is available for free access and download.

Canadian WWI and WWII soldiers identified.

May 13, 2015 is the date eight Canadian WWI soldier will be laid to rest at Caix British Cemetery in Caix, France.


Lieutenant Clifford Neelands, Lance Sargeant Oscar Lindell, Private Sidney Halliday, Private William Simms, and Private Lachlan McKinnon of the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force are five of eight members whose remains were discovered in 2006-2007.

The remains were found in the backyard of a private home in Hallu, a small village in the Somme region of France in 2006-2007.

The five known members were identified in 2014.

All died August 11, 1918 while advancing toward Hallu, France.

Family members and government and military representatives will be in attendance.

A Canadian WWII soldier, Pte. Albert Laubenstein was laid to rest on May 6, 2015 about 70 km from where he died in the Canadian War Cemetery.

He was killed during hostilities in the  Netherlands toward the end of WWII.

Using dental records, historical knowledge and artifacts were key to his identification. His remains were found last year and his burial took place during a week of events to mark Canada’s part in the liberation of the Netherlands.

Laubenstein was buried with military honours on Wednesday at the Canadian War Cemetery, about 70 kilometres from where he fought and died.




Pugliese, David; “Eight Canadian First World War soldiers to be buried on May 13 in France;” Ottawa Citizen website; May 6, 2015.

Carlson, Mark; Associated Press; “Canadian soldier buried in the Netherlands 70 years after his death;”; May 6, 2015.

Transcription: Biographies of John Sloan Smeltzer, Jules Hugg, James Keating (in part) and including Jacob and Mary Shellhammer.

The following is my transcription from the original image of page 563 of “The History of Westmoreland County”, in my case concerning the Shellhammers, but mentioning the Smeltzer, Chambers, Meeker, Fox, Sloan, Stidard, Lawrence, Wicht, Theibert, Beck, Hugg, and Keating surnames.


John Smeltzer biography
John Smeltzer biography



JOHN SLOAN SMELTZER.   The father of John Sloan Smeltzer, of Vandergrift Heights, was Christopher C. Smeltzer, born July 25, 1841, in Armstrong county, where he was reared to a farm lite. He has always followed agricultural pursuits. in connection with which he engaged for many years in threshing. He is a Democrat and a member of the Lutheran church. Mr. Smeltzer married Sarah Chrissman. and six of their ten children are now living: Ada. wife of Claude Chambers, of Grove county. Kansas; Robert Charles, heater in Vandergrift mills; Anna, wife of William Meeker, of Russel county, Kansas ; Jennie,  wife of David Fox, of Pawnee county. Kansas: Carrie, wife of Gibson Sloan, of the same county : and John Sloan. mentioned hereinafter. Mr. Smeltzer, the father, now resides near Ellerton, Armstrong county.

John Sloan Smeltzer, son of Christopher C. and Sarah {Chrissman) Smeltzer, was born February 10, 1878, in Adams county, Ohio, and received a limited common school education. 1n 1893 he entered the mills of the Apollo lron & Steel Company, serving first in the capacity of matcher. Three months later he was promoted to the position of doubler, in which he served eleven months and was then made catcher. Five months later he became rougher and in this capacity served seven years. In July, 1902, he was advanced to his present position of roller. Politically he is a Democrat. Mr. Smeltzer married, February 1, 1898, Daisy E., daughter of Jacob B. and Mary (Beck) Shellhammer of Armstrong county, and their children are: Viola M., Rita E., Ora A. T., Iva E., and Williard S.

JULES HUGG.   The parents of Jules Hugg, of Arnold. were John Battis and Victoria Hugg, his birth occurring February 3, 1843, near Lyons, France, and his education being received in the schools of his native country and England. He learned the glass-blowers trade, which he followed until 1870. In that year he emigrated with his wife and three children to the United States, settling in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where for a short time he worked as a glassblower. After a residence of seven months in McKeesport, he moved to New Albany, Indiana, remaining, however. hut a short time and going thence to Rock Island. Illinois. where he spent one year. At the end ot that time he returned to Pennsylvania and took up his abode in Belle Vernon, where he remained three years, after which he spent four years in Europe. On his return he settled at Albany, Indiana, and after remaining five years spent four years in Pittsburg. For three years thereafter he lived at Jeannette, and in 1892 moved to Arnold, the borough being but one year old. He there purchased property on which he has lived ever since, and for ten years worked in the mills as a glass-blower. During the last two years he has lived in retirement.

Mr. Hugg married, January 22, 1865, Marie, born June 29, 1846, in England, daughter of Caspar and Melina (Wicht) Theibert, and their children are: Ernest. born December 9, 1865, now of Jeannette : Minnie. born December 1, 1867, wife of Isaac Stidard, of Pittsburg : Clarice, born  June 21, 1870, wife of Clarence Lawrence, of Arnold : Lewis, born August 20, 1877, glassblower : Charles, born April 28, 1880, glassblower at Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania; and Harry, born August 12, 1883, also of Reynoldsville.

JAMES KEATING. It was in Ireland that James Keating. of Arnold. was born December 20. 1850. and it was thence he emigrated in 1863, with an aunt. settling for a short time in Elmira, New York. He then went to Pennsylvania. where for a time he worked about the mines in Canton and Fall…

The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


I’m related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna?

What a shock to find out that I and the rest of my family are related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna!

I was reviewing old genealogy articles to find story and post ideas and hit the jackpot with this one. In an article by CanWest News Service’s Randy Boswell from March of 2010, he recounts the relationship between Madonna and Ellen Degeneres.

View of the entrance to La Rochelle harbour in 1628.
La Rochelle harbour circa 1628.

Mr. Boswell states that they are eleventh cousins, descending from the same 10th great-grandfather, Martin Aucoin, from La Rochelle, France. It is unclear whether he ever immigrated to Acadia, but his two daughters Michelle and Jeanne were both living in Port Royal after 1641.

Relationship Chart - Christine Blythe to Martin Aucoin
I find out that I and the rest of my family are related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna!

As you can see in the relationship chart below showing my descent from the same original ancestor, my branch descends through his daughter Michelle, who married Michel Boudrot in Port Royal in 1641.

In a later generation, my 6th great-grandfather, Charles Mellanson married Anne Bourg in 1701. Anne being the great-granddaughter of the original Martin Aucoin, all subsequent descendants of Charles Mellanson were also direct descendants of Martin Aucoin.

Finding family connections with noted people from history is one thing, but nothing beats the fun of finding connections to living celebrities, personalities, politicians, royalty, etc. Another connection I recently wrote about was that of my husband to Barack Obama, both being directly descended from Ulrich Stehle, who was 6th great-grandfather to Mark and 7th great-grandfather to Barack Obama.

Biography of Martin Aucoin and his daughters Michelle and Jeanne.

Martin Aucoin was born before 1619 in La Rochelle, France and married firstly, Barbe Minguet and secondly, Marie Salle (daughter of Denys Salle and Françoise Arnaud) after 1630. Martin and Barbe Minguet had the following children:

Michelle “Michele” Aucoin was born about 1621 in France and married Michel Boudrot (born about 1600 in France) in 1641 at Port Royal. Michel had immigrated to Acadia from France before 1639. The 1671 Acadian census is listed as a farmer in Port Royal, owning 20 cattle, 12 sheep, 8 arpents of land. In 1678, again at Port Royal, he owned 12 acres, 10 cattle, 3 guns. In 1686, Michel was a Lt. General of the Jurisdiction of Port Royal  and is shown in the census of that year owning 3 guns, 20 arpents, 16 cattle, 17 sheep, 6 hogs. According to the 1693 Acadian census, she was a widow living in Port Royal and owned 20 cattle, 18 sheep, 12 hogs, 25 arpents, and 1 gun. She died on December 17, 1706 at the age of 85 and was buried on 18 Dec 1706 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal. Michelle Aucoin and Michel Boudrot had the following children:

  1. Françoise Boudrot, born about 1642 in Port Royal, married Etienne Robichaud about 1663 and died in 1714 at the age of 72.
  2. Jeanne Boudrot was born about 1650 in Port Royal and married Bonaventure “Venture” Terriau (son of Jean Terriau and Perrine Rau) about 1666. She died on May 8, 1710 at the age of 60 in Port Royal and was buried the next day in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal.
  3. Charles Boudrot was born about 1649 in Port Royal and married Renée Bourg (daughter of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry) about 1672. He later married Marie Corporon about 1686. Charles died after 1714 at the age of 65 in Pisiquit.
  4. Marguerite Boudrot is my 7th great-grandmother and was born about 1648 in Port Royal. She married firstly, Jean Babineau, who was born about 1652 in Acadia. Secondly, she married François Bourg (my 7th great-grandfather)  about 1665. Marguerite died in 1718 as records show her burial on November 9, 1718 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal.
  5. Marie Boudrot was born about 1650 in Port Royal and lived in Beaubassin, Acadia between 1693 and 1700. Marie married Michel Poirier (son of Jean Poirier and Jeanne Chebrat) about 1673 in Port Royal.
  6. Jean “Jehan” Boudrot was born about 1655 in Port Royal and married Marguerite Bourgeois (daughter of Jacques Bourgeois and Jeanne Trahan) about 1676. He died on November 30, 1679 at the age of 24 in Port Royal.
  7. Abraham Boudrot was born about 1656 in Port Royal. In about 1685 in Port Royal, he married Cécile (Anne) Melanson (daughter of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas). He died in 1700 or 1701 at the age of 44 in Port Royal.
  8. Michel Boudrot was born about 1659 in Port Royal. He married Marie-Madeleine Cormier (daughter of Thomas Cormier and Marie-Madeleine Girouard) about 1690 and he died on February 13, 1714 at the age of 55, also in Port Royal.
  9. Olivier Boudrot was born about 1661 in Port Royal. About 1686, he married Isabelle Petitpas.
  10. Claude Boudrot was born about 1663 in Port Royal. He married Anne-Marie Thibodeau (daughter of Pierre Thibodeau and Jeanne Terriau) about 1682 in Port Royal and died on March 7, 1740 at the age of 77 in Grand Pré.

Jeanne Aucoin was born November 23, 1630 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France and was baptized on November 26, 1630 in Ste-Marguerite Parish, La Rochelle, France. She married François “la varanne, le pere” Girouard about 1616 in France and immigrated with him to Acadian sometime before 1671. She appears first in the census of 1671 with her husband, who is shown to be a farmer in Port Royal, owning 16 cattle, 6 sheep and 8 arpents of land; in 1678 he owned 16 acres and 18 cattle; and in 1686 he owned 1 gun, 5 arpents of land, 13 cattle, 16 sheep and 8 hogs. In the 1693 census, Jeanne was a widow living in Port Royal and she owned 20 cattle, 40 sheep, 10 hogs, 20 arpents of land and 2 guns. The 1700 Acadian census shows Jeanne owning 15 cattle, 34 sheep, 20 arpents of land and 2 guns She died April 16,  1718 at the age of 87 and was buried April 18, 1718 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal. Jeanne Aucoin and François Girouard had six children:

  1. Marie Girouard, born about 1651 in Port Royal.
  2. Marie-Madeleine Girouard was born about 1653 in Port Royal and married Thomas François Cormier, son of Robert Cormier and Marie Peraud.
  3. Germain Girouard was born about 1656 in Port Royal. He married Marie Bourgeois (daughter of Jacques Bourgeois and Jeanne Trahan) on June 9, 1680 in Beaubassin and he died March 7, 1741 at the age of 90 in Beaubassin.
  4. Jacques Girouard was born about 1658 in Port Royal.
  5. Charlotte “Anne” Girouard, born about 1660 in Port Royal, married Julien “dit La Montagne” Lord sometime before 1678. She died before 1712 at the age of 52.
  6. Anne Girouard was born about 1671 in Port Royal.


  1. 1671 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  2. 1678 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  3. 1686 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  4. 1693 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  5. 1698 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  6. 1700 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  7. 1701 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  8. 1752 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  9. Michael B. Melanson, “Melanson – Melancon: Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family”, (Dracut, Massachusetts: Lanesville Publishing, 2004).
  10. “Origins of the Pioneers of Acadia”, Stephen A. White online (
  11. H. George Friedman Jr., “Aucoin Genealogy,” database, H. George Friedman, Jr., Aucoin Genealogy ( .
  12. Stephen A. White, ( (Université de Moncton: Centre d’Études Acadiennes, 1999).
  13. Donald J. Hébert, “Southwest Louisiana Records” (N.p.: Hébert Publications, n.d.).
  14. Donald J. Hébert, “Acadian Families in Exile – 1785” (N.p.: Hébert Publications, n.d.).
  15. “Baptiste Was Said to Have a Wife in Every Port”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  16. “Marriage Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  17. “Baptism Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  18. “Burial Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  19. “Dictionary of Canadian Biography,” database, (
  20. “The Seizure of ‘The Pembroke’ by the Acadians”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  21. “She Presided Over Councils of War Against her Kindred”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  22. “Baptiste, The Rascal”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (


Debate about numbers, percentages and odds in genealogy fascinates.

inbreedingThere will always be debate about numbers, percentages and odds in genealogy.

I am so lucky that we have such a wide range of ancestries and national origins in my husband’s and my family trees. Those who have read my posts before are already well aware that our ancestries branch off from four (or five) distinct groups, and marriage between these groups is rare.

The groups containing our ancestries are:


  • Acadians

French Huguenots escaping religious persecution in France in the mid to late 17th century relocated to the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States, giving birth to the Acadian and Cajun cultures.

  • French Canadians

You would think, since the origins of French Canadians are essentially the same as the Acadians, there would be more intermarriage between the two, but I have found very few connections between the two groups in our family tree – at least so far. Most French Canadians descended from French explorers and pioneers involved in the fur trade and colonizing what is now part of Ontario and Quebec, although Acadians did find their way up the St. Lawrence River after the great expulsion (grand dérangement) of the French settlers by the British colonists.


  • Scandinavian

Although the majority of the ancestry of my husband on his mother’s side is Swedish, the other Scandinavian nations and cultures are represented as well.

  • Welsh Quaker

Mark’s ancestry on his father’s side originates from Welsh immigrants who were also escaping religious persecution for their puritan beliefs at the hands of the Welsh and British nobility and clergy.

  • British Royalty and Nobility

The interesting point to make here is that Mark’s connections to British royalty and nobility occur through his Welsh Quaker ancestry.

I decided to touch on this subject after reading the post on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter entitled, “Man Traces Ancestry to 1st English King – So What?.”

Mathematically, Dick Eastman’s calculations of the numbers of ancestors and/or descendants in a family based upon an average number and length of generations, as well as an average number of children in families appear to make sense. However, there are so many variables affecting the numbers, that it is almost impossible to make accurate estimations, much less calculations.

These variables include:

  1. Individuals who remained single and bore no children.
  2. Individuals who died young and were never married, much less had children.
  3. Mass deaths due to war, disease and poverty wiping out most or all of a generation or two.
  4. Variations in sizes of families as influenced by tradition or custom, health and fertility, relationships, economics, etc.

One major point made by Dick is his belief that everyone can eventually trace their ancestries back to royalty, but by my experience, this appears to be flawed.

As illustrated in the diverse groups outlined above in our ancestries, we originate from several unique national, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Examining our family tree makes it apparent that intermarriage between these groups was almost impossible due to geography, economics, politics and custom. Most people, no matter where they were from or how wealthy and socially prominent they were, usually married within their own group.

The interesting point illustrated by our ancestry is that although my husband’s and my ancestries are quite separate and rarely intermarried, the fact that he and I married and had our two children now combines our ancestries for all future generations. Therefore, it’s easy to assume that intermarriage occurred (and will occur) much more as the world became smaller through technology, multi-culturalism, etc., which are more modern phenomena of the last hundred years or so.

In previous posts, I touched on this subject as it relates to our ancestry and evolving cultural methods of managing relationships and marriages to ensure as little inbreeding as possible. These posts are “The Science of Husbandry on a Human Scale” and “Ingenius incest prevention app created by University of Iceland students.

I must thank Dick Eastman as his is one of the few blogs I do read that routinely challenge my thinking and assumptions. I like that.

photo credit: wonker via photopin cc

WWI War Stories: Turmaine and Emery.

In honor of today’s ceremonies in honor of the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge, I am reposting several articles about my own ancestors who died in WWI. 


In my father’s French Canadian, ‘Turmaine’ branch of the family, we have two known soldiers who died in the first world war. The first was my grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery, and the second was another grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Turmaine – and here are their WWI war stories.


Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery
Pte Joseph Philias Albert Emery – just one of many WWI war stories.

PTE. JOSEPH PHILIAS ALBERT EMERY, the son of Albert Emery and Émilie Labelle was born in Saint-André Avellin, Ripon Township, Papineau County, Québec, Canada. At 5’6″, he had a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes and he was a papermaker at the time of his enlistment in the 77th Canadian Battalion, Governor General’s Foot Guards.

Having later been reassigned to the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was engaged in the preparations for the advance on Vimy Ridge. He was reported missing on March 1, 1917, about a month prior to the capture of the ridge. His remains were never found and he was memorialized at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez in Pas de Calais, France.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge - war stories
Of many WWI war stories, this one included deadly gas attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge. Image of a gas cloud being released fromm canisters on the Western Front circ 1916.

During gas and artillery attacks planned for that day, the troops came under fire from the Germans.

An excerpt from the war diary of the 73rd Battalion dated March 1, 1917 reads, “Officers and men without exception fought magnificently. Casualties during the attack were as follows: 26 OR killed, 99 OR wounded, 27 OR missing.”



Preserved WWI tunnel at Vimy Ridge
Preserved WWI fighting tunnel at Vimy Ridge.

Pte. Emery was among those missing and was never recovered.

A very detailed and well-researched account entitled, “A Proper Slaughter: The March 1917 Gas Raid on Vimy Ridge”, written by Tim Cook contains some great photos and makes great reading.

Another account of the incident taken from the ‘ Canadian Battlefields ‘ website is as follows:

   “Thirty-nine days before the Canadians infamous and victorious attack on Vimy Ridge from April 9-12, 1917 there was a disastrous reconnaissance raid.   On March 1, 1917 at 3:00 am the gas sergeants took their positions to release the phosgene gas from the hundreds of gas canisters, referred to as “rats”, they had placed prior to the scheduled raid date. Every night they had lugged the heavy, poisonous gas canisters four miles to the front lines. They dug holes in the ground, nicknamed “rat traps” where the canisters were carefully placed and held in position with dirt and sandbags. A rubber hose connected to the canister would be maneuvered away from the trench, into No Man’s Land towards the enemy. The Canadians knew all too well what poisonous gas did to the human body from their experience at the Ypres Salient in 1915 when they were hit with gas for the first time.

    At 5:00 am the gas sergeants were to release the chlorine gas and 45-minutes later the 1,700 troops assigned to the raid were to go “over the top”. Of course things didn’t work out. For a gas attack, the velocity and direction of the wind is crucial. Secondly, gas is heavier then air. This meant that even if the gas sergeants managed to release the gas from the canisters and through the hose into No Man’s Land, the gas then had to travel up the hill to kill the Germans. (I shake my head at this, as I’m sure you are too). Gas is heavier than air, therefore it is logically impossible for it to flow up hill. Rather, they would find that the gas would settle in the pot-marked landscape and trenches, the very places our soldiers would seek protection from German fire. The idea was that the first gas release would kill most of the Germans. The second release, of chlorine gas, would surely finish off the Germans. 45-minutes after the chlorine gas release, a proposed sufficient amount of time for the gas to dissipate, our soldiers would walk in, finish off the few struggling Germans, collect the information they were sent for and then return. If I, a civilian, can see flaws in this plan, I cannot help but question, almost scream, “How did anyone ever let this plan go further than its first mentioning?!”

   The Germans realized a gas attack has been launched. They sounded the alarms, and released hell on No Man’s Land. A German artillery barrage and a steady pumping of rifle and machine gun fire rained down on the Canadians. The shells smashed into buried gas cylinders, causing our own trench to instantly fill with poison gas. With a tremendous rupture a wave of yellow gas plummeted from our trenches. The chlorine gas cylinders had been hit. “Making matters worse, the wind had changed direction. The release of the second wave of gas to supposedly finish off the German defenders began blowing back in the faces of the Canadian brigades.” (Barris, 2008: 13).
   In about 5 minutes we lost 190 men and two company commanders. It total, there were 687 casualties. Only 5 men actually reached the German trenches. Those that somehow managed to stay alive in No Man’s Land, were captured and spent around 21-months in a German prison camp
   On March 3 an extraordinary event took place. No Man’s Land had been eerily silent after the attack, but out of the mist a German officer carrying a Red Cross flag walked out into No Man’s Land in front of Hill 145. He called for and was met by a Canadian officer to discuss a two-hour truce ‘from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon’ during which time Canadian stretcher bearers and medical staff could carry back casualties and remains. What seemed even more remarkable [was] “the Germans said they would assist by bringing Canadian casualties halfway.”


PTE. JOSEPH TURMAINE, son of Herménégilde Turmaine and Virginia Perrault, was born in 1891 at Lac Mégantic, Québec, Canada. He was 5’7 1/2″ tall, had a dark complexion, blue eyes and very dark hair. He was a Private in the 27th Battalion Infantry, Winnipeg Regiment and took part in action against the Germans in Courcelette. He was reported ‘missing in action’ and was never recovered.

I have summarized the account of his Battalion’s war diary for the date he went missing below:

The 27th Battalion, Winnipeg Regiment left at 2 pm, September 14, 1916 for brigade headquarters, arriving at 5 pm. They then left brigade headquarters at 9 pm and proceeded to the front line to take up position in assembly trenches, which was delayed due to congestion of the trenches and was completed just after 4 am.

At 6:20 am, the artillery barrage opened 50 yards ahead of the German trench and the first wave started crawling over. As the barrage lifted, the Battalion advanced to the first German line and were met with heavy rifle and machine gun fire. As soon as the Canadian troops reached the trench, the Germans threw up their hands and surrendered. The Battalion followed up the barrage closely and met very little resistance at Sunken Road, the Germans surrendering in large numbers. By this time, the first wave was nearly wiped out and the second wave took their place. Owing to casualties, reinforcements were sent to hold the line at Sunken Road. The Germans attempted to advance but were driven back by Canadian fire. A large number also advanced and started sniping the Canadian front only to also be driven back by Canadian fire.

Two Canadian patrols pushed on toward Courcelette, but were forced to return to the line due to barrage fire. The German artillery fire was very intense for 48 hours on the front line.

A few troops dashed forward under cover of Canadian machine guns and captured a German Maxim. Approximately 22 Germans surrendered.

The Germans had thrown away the feed block of the captured gun but after considerable searching it was located and the gun was turned on German snipers, causing considerable damage. After the Battalion returned to the Brigade Reserve it was reported that there were 72 killed, 250 wounded and 72 missing (including Joseph Turmaine).

photo credit:

Sources for WWI War Stories: Turmaine and Emery:

  1. Cook, Tim (1999) ““A Proper Slaughter”: The March 1917 Gas Raid at Vimy Ridge,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 1. Available at: (
  2. Books of Remembrance, Veterans Affairs Canada, (
  3. Pas de Calais, France, “XIV. F. 25.,” database, Commonwealth War Graves Commission ( . Attestation Papers – Archives of Canada, digital images.
  4. Certificate of Memorial; Private Joseph Phillias Albert Emery (SN: 144880), 73rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry; Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
  5. Casualty Form – Active Service; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  6. Form of Will; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  7. Medals, Decorations, Promotions and Transfers Record; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  8. War Service Gratuity Form; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  9. Provencher, Gérard and Blue Jeans, George, Pontbriand, B.; ” Marriages of Outaouais (Theft. I-II) 1815-1970 “, *86-87, Québec, 1971, S.G.C.F. * S.G.L. (Directory); French Title: Mariages de l’Outaouais (Vol. I-II) 1815-1970.
  10. Canadian Battlefields; Vimy Ridge: Before the Gas at Hill 145 (website:
  11. Les Labelles, Daniel Labelle online (, accessed.1901 Canadian Census – St. André Avelin, Labelle District, Québec; Émerie Family: Charles, Émelie, Alice, Albert, Clarinda, Émeralda, Rose A. (Amande).
  13. Personal knowledge and interviews with family.

What we don’t hear about the battle of Vimy Ridge.

In honor of today’s ceremonies for the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge, I am reposting several articles about my own ancestors who died in WWI. 

In my father’s French Canadian, ‘Turmaine’ branch of the family, we have two known soldiers who died in the first world war. The first was my grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery, who died at Vimy Ridge, and the second was another grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Turmaine, who died at Courcelette.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought largely by Canadian troops consisting of all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) from April 9 to 12, 1917, with the objective of gaining control of the German held high ground, ensuring that the southern flank of the forces could advance without the threat of German fire.

What we don’t hear about the battle of Vimy Ridge is how so many of our own troops lost their lives due to poor leadership in the days prior to the battle.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the catalyst for a newly born nationalistic pride for Canadians and their achievements as part of the British forces.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge
Gas Attacks in March 1917 at the battle of Vimy Ridge.

What we don’t hear much about, however, is the disastrous actions taken previously in preparation for the battle.

As described in my previous post ‘War Stories‘, my own great granduncle (brother to my grandmother) was Pte. Joseph Phillias Albert Emery, a soldier with the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch. He took part in operations in preparation for the advance on Vimy Ridge and was reported missing on March 1, 1917.

The majority of the losses during this operation were the result of mismanagement by the senior officers. As a result of poor planning, the gas canisters were deployed despite the winds blowing back onto the Canadians, causing mass casualties from the gas.

Below are the six pages of the war diary for the 73rd Battalion on the day my ancestor went missing. In another previous post, I’ve published full transcriptions of all the pages.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.

Battle of Vimy Ridge War Diary for the 73rd Battalion.


Related articles on this site about Vimy Ridge:

Transcription: War Diary of the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion for the Vimy Ridge Disaster of March 1-3, 1917.

Transcription: Form of Will for Joseph Philias Albert Emery

Dad is the link to our French Canadian and military heritage.

We must fight for our veterans as they fought for us.

In Remembrance.

Genealogy Database

Athelwulf, King of Wessex
Athelwulf, King of Wessex

Our Blythe Genealogy Database

After extensive work, my genealogy database is now updated and links can be found in the upper menu or in the left sidebar. There are thousands of surnames and the extensive lineages include Welsh Quaker immigrants to the USA, French Canadian, Acadian, American pioneers, Canadian pioneers, French, British, Welsh, German, Scandinavian and medieval and royal genealogies.

The database includes extensive facts, sources and some images.

The sinking of the White Ship.

Several of my children’s ancestors were among the hundreds who perished in the sinking of the White Ship off Barfleur, France in 1120 – often seen as a 12th century comparison to the sinking of the Titanic.

The sinking of the White Ship
Depiction of the sinking of the White Ship.


During my years of researching the medieval ancestry of Mark and our children, I’ve noticed a recurring theme.

Several of the ancestors were casualties of the disastrous shipwreck of the “White Ship”. Although there were actually closer to 300 passengers aboard, I was only able to locate a list of twenty of the casualties.

It is well known though that the ship was loaded with nobles and contemporaries of King Henry I, of England.

Henry I, King of England
Henry I, King of England

The “White Ship” was a new, state of the art vessel under command of Thomas FitzStephen.

His father had been Stephen FitzAirard, captain of the ship “Mora” under William the Conqueror during his invasion of England in 1066.

Captain FitzStephen offered transport to England on his ship to Henry I for his return to England, but since the King had already made other arrangements, he declined. King Henry did, however, arrange for his son, William “Aetheling” Adelin and two of his illegitimate children to sail on the ship.

The familiar account of the events leading up to the sinking as delivered by the known sole survivor state that all aboard had been drinking and partying liberally and by the time they set sail, most on board were very drunk.

It is interesting to note that there are conflicting accounts of survivors. Based upon the “Orderic Vitalis”, some believe there were two survivors, the butcher and Geoffrey de l’Aigle.

Amidst the drunken revelry described by the survivor, a challenge was issued to the Captain to overtake the King’s own ship, which had set sail earlier. Upon setting off, the White Ship struck a hidden rock in the shallow waters of the channel, quickly capsizing and sinking.

Etienne de Blois
Stephen of Blois, King of England

Those on shore saw what was occurring and sent a boat out to get William “Aetheling” Adelin, the King’s son, who was on his way back to shore when he heard his half-sister Matilda du Perche cry out for help and had the boat return to assist.

Unfortunately, there were several scrambling to get on board the small boat, causing it to be swamped and to sink. William drowned right along with his half-sister and all the other unfortunate passengers.

The common belief through the centuries has been that the Captain, Thomas FitzStephen, upon hearing of William Adelin’s drowning, just surrendered to the waters and drowned rather than take such terrible news back to the King.

As a result of Prince William’s death, King Henry named his only remaining legitimate child, his daughter Matilda, to be heiress to the throne.

He forced the noblemen to swear to support Matilda, who was unpopular because she was married to Geoffrey V, Comte d’Anjou who had been an enemy of the Norman nobility. When the noblemen refused to support Matilda after the death of King Henry I, they turned to the King’s nephew, Etienne de Blois and named him King.

Etienne de Blois had originally planned to travel on the “White Ship” as well and had even boarded her, but had to leave before the ship’s departure because he became ill with diarrhea.

Mathilde and her husband initiated war against Etienne and his followers to gain the English throne, as her father had wished. This period of civil war known as “The Anarchy” spanned almost two decades from 1135 to 1153 and became a pivotal time in the history of England, resulting in the end of Norman rule.

The closest ancestor to my children who played a part in the story of the “White Ship” disaster was:

  • Etienne de Blois, King of England. He was the 31st great grandfather to my children.

The known casualties from among the approximately 300 on board, listed in order of the closeness of relationship to our children (if any) include:

  • William the Atheling, son of King Henry I and heir to the English throne – 26th great granduncle to my children.
  • Mathilde du Perche, Countess of Perche, illegitimate daughter of King Henry I – 26th great grandaunt.
  • Richard of Lincoln, illegitimate son of King Henry I – 26th great granduncle.
  • Godfrey de l’Aigle, knight. – 28th great granduncle (brother to Engenulf)
  • Engenulf de l’Aigle, brother to Godfrey – 28th great granduncle
  • Mathilde de Blois, sister to Stephen de Blois, King of England and wife of Richard d’Avranches – 31st great grandaunt
  • Robert Mauduit, nobleman. – 31st great granduncle
  • Richard d’Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester, nobleman. – 1st cousin 31 times removed
  • Outher d’Avranches, brother of Richard, Earl of Chester. – 1st cousin, 31 times removed
  • Geoffrey Riddell, Lord of the Judiciary, nobleman.  – 2nd cousin 30 times removed
  • Ottuel, Illegitimate half brother of the 2nd Earl of Chester.
  • Hugh of Moulins, nobleman.
  • Walter of Everci, nobleman.
  • Lucia Mahout, wife of the 2nd Earl of Chester.
  • Othver, Prince William’s tutor.
  • William Pirou, the king’s steward.
  • Geoffrey, Archdeacon of Hereford.
  • Richard Anskill, son and heir of a Berkshire landowner.
  • Captain Thomas FitzStephen, ship’s captain.
  • William Grandmesnil, nobleman.


photo credit:


Joan, Fair Maid of Kent


Joan, Countess of Kent was Princess of Wales and was also known as Joan, Fair Maid of Kent. Her other titles included Princess of Aquitaine, Countess of Salisbury and Baroness Wake of Liddell. She was also the 26th great grandmother to my children.


Joan at one time was described by French historian Jean Froissart as “the most beautiful woman in all the realm of England, and the most loving.”

Joan was born September 29, 1328. Her father was Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent (1301-1330), half-brother to Edward II, King of England and son of Edward I, and her mother was Margaret, Baroness Wake (1300-1349), daughter of Philip III, King of France. It was her father Edmund who supported Edward II in conflict with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March and his lover Isabella of France, resulting in Edmund’s execution.

In the spring of 1340 at the age of eleven, Joan was married in secret, without royal consent, to Sir Thomas de Holand (    – 1360), Knight of the Garter, of Broughton, Buckinghamshire, son of Sir Robert de Holand and Matilda la Zouche.

In 1352, she succeeded her brother as Countess of Kent, Baroness Wake and Baroness Woodstock.

While Thomas was overseas, her family forced her into a marriage with William de Montagu (1328-1397) before February 10, 1341. She decided not to disclose the earlier marriage for fear Sir Thomas would be executed for treason. William was the son of William de Montagu, Lord Montagu and Earl of Salisbury and Katharine de Grandson and succeeded as Earl of Salisbury in 1344. Joan and William had one son, Sir William de Montagu (1341-    ).

The marriage of Joan and William was annulled in November 17, 1349 after Sir Thomas de Holand proved that he had married Joan in 1339. Thomas was made Lord Holand in 1353/4 and succeeded as Earl of Kent, dying in the winter of 1360. He was buried at the Church of the Grey Friars in Stamford, England.

The pope ordered the re-establishment of the first marriage to Sir Thomas de Holad on November 17, 1349. It was later confirmed by another Papal Bull that the Earl of Salisbury acquiesced and married another woman who remained his wife. Joan returned to her first husband and had the following children:

  • Sir Thomas de Holand II, Earl of Kent (1350-1397)
  • John de Holand, Duke of Exeter (1350-1400)
  • Edmund de Holand, Duchess of Brittany (    –    )
  • Matilda de Holand, Countess of Ligny (    –    )

Joan’s third marriage was by Papal dispensation September 10, 1361 to Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales (1330-1376), son of Edward III, King of England and Philippa de Hainaut. Edward was also known as “The Black Prince”. Joan and Edward had two sons:

  • Edward of Angoulême (1365-1372)
  • Richard II, King of England (1367- murdered in 1400)

Around 1365, Edward went to war on behalf of King Peter of Castile. After his return and by 1372, Edward was no longer able to perform his duties as Prince of Aquitaine and he returned to England, when the plaque has rampant. Joan became the Dowager Princess of Wales upon the succession of her son Richard, her elder son having died in 1372.



The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.


  1. Royal Genealogies Website;
  2. Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy (Alison Weir, Britain’s Royal Family: A Complete Genealogy; Pimlico; Rev Ed edition (13 Jun 2002); London, U.K.: The Bodley Head, 1999.
  3. Kings and Queens of England – The Plantagenets, The Royal Family online;, accessed.
  4. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy online;, accessed.
  5. Charles Mosley, Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, 106th Edition (: 1999,).
  6. The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant (G.E. Cokayne; with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I.).
  7. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came To America Before 1700, 8th Edition (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 2004).
  8. George Smith, Dictionary of National Biography, Vols. 1-21 (: Oxford Press, 1885-1990).
  9. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D., The Magna Carta Sureties, 1215, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c1999.

Photo credit:

Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla Mellanson – A Family Mystery

Update: New Melanson genealogy information was found by a fellow researcher in 2012 and may have cleared up this family mystery. I learned about it during December 2014 and the new information is detailed in the post “A breakthrough in the mysterious Melanson genealogy?”


If you’re using this research, be sure to use the information in both posts as the new discoveries negate or resolve some of the information and speculations in this post.

Melanson Family Crest
Melanson Family Crest

My family on my mother’s side originates with Pierre dit Laverdure and his wife Priscilla (Mellanson), who immigrated with their family to America by ship with a group under the leadership of the newly appointed Governor of Acadia, Thomas Temple in 1657. They landed first in Boston, Massachusetts and then travelled to Acadia to settle.

Poitou-Charentes region of France
Poitou-Charentes region of France

After some consideration of the scant documentary evidence available for this couple, weighed against the political and religious circumstances of the time, it is widely believed Pierre was a French Huguenot who emigrated to England to escape the persecution of the Huguenots. It is most likely he emigrated from La Rochelle, Poitou-Charentes, as his departure coincides with the capture of that protestant city by Papist forces.

There is a fair quantity of documentary evidence regarding Pierre, Priscilla and their three sons Pierre, Charles and Jean once they arrive in Acadia. What little we know of their original location and circumstances is gleaned from the documentation in Acadia and Boston, Massachusetts.

In one document found in the archives of Boston, Massachusetts, Priscilla states that she and her family had immigrated to Acadia in 1657 on the ship ‘Satisfaction’ with the newly appointed Governor and had settled in the region that is now St. John, New Brunswick.

Grand Temple of Rochelle
Protestant “Grand Temple” of La Rochelle, built on the Place du Château, modern Place de Verdun, in 1600–1603. Accidentally burned down in 1687.

A petition submitted by Priscilla Mellanson to the Governor of Massachusetts and his counsel was also found. In this petition, she requests that 100 pounds she had submitted for bail on behalf of her son Jean, who had skipped bail, be returned to her. She states that she was an English woman and her husband ‘Peter Laverdure’ was of French protestant origin.

Much of the documentation from the Acadian settlement refers to Pierre as Pierre dit Laverdure. A common practice in France at the time was to adopt nicknames or titles denoted by the word ‘dit’ before it. This title or nickname could have referred to any number of things including a descriptive term, location, family or property in France. I was unable to find any references to titles, locations or property in my research. However, I did locate a definition for the word ‘verdure’ in The Free Dictionary, and it indicates:

a. The lush greenness of flourishing vegetation.
b. Vigorous greenery.
2. A fresh or flourishing condition: the verdure of childhood.

[Middle English, from Old French, from verd, green, from Latin viridis.]

My reasoning (and this is total speculation) is that, based on this definition, there are several possibilities, including:

  • He was from a lush, green, fertile area of France.
  • He was involved in forest management or forestry.
  • He was in a profession concerned with vegetation such as farming.
  • The ‘fresh or flourishing condition’ referred to in the definition above could allude to his being ‘young’, ‘youthful’, ‘vigorous’, or ‘junior’ to someone.

In most English documents, the ‘dit’ is dropped from Pierre’s name and he is referred to simply as Pierre Laverdure. In no written record does the patriarch Pierre have the surname Mellanson, despite the fact that his wife and sons are all known by that surname. Further support for the Laverdure portion of his surname being a title or nickname is the fact that his son Pierre is noted in documents as Pierre ‘dit la Verdure’ Mellanson and his brother as Charles ‘dit la Ramée’ Mellanson.

Although difficult to find, research into the ‘dit la Ramée’ nickname for Charles also indicates a definition surrounding vegetation and foliage.

Cardinal Richilieu at the Siege of La Rochelle
Cardinal Richelieu at the Siege of La Rochelle (1627-1628), Henri Motte, 1881.

Another document written in 1720 by John Adams actually provides quite a bit of evidence to support these conclusions. It refers to the son of Pierre Laverdure as ‘an aged English gentleman’. It also states that Priscilla’s husband had left to “escape the wrath of his countrymen Papists.” At the time of the Treaty of Breda, by which Acadia came under control of France, Pierre and Priscilla moved to Boston, Massachusetts, supposedly in fear of further persecution at the hands of the French. Their sons Pierre and Charles, having previously converted to the Catholic religion, remained in Acadia.

It is impossible to tell what Priscilla’s maiden name was. It is widely assumed it was Mellanson although there is little to support this in the documentation of the time. The belief that Mellanson had been her surname is supported by her mark on a document while in Boston, in which she simply uses the initials ‘PM’, and also by the fact that her sons Pierre and Charles adopted ‘Mellanson’ as their surname.

Houses of Huguenot weavers at Canterbury
Some Huguenot refugees settled at Canterbury where these Huguenot weavers’ houses still stand.

While conducting research into the circumstances of the Huguenot migration I learned that they emigrated to numerous locations including England, Wales and Ireland in the United Kingdom. The Huguenot immigrants to England arrived on the coastline of Kent. Although a small portion relocated to Ireland, the majority moved on to Canterbury; Sandwich, Faversham and Maidstone in Kent; Shoreditch, Spitalfields, and Wandsworth, London; Cranfield, Bedford and Luton in Bedfordshire; and Norwich in Norfolk.

One common thread between information we know from Acadian census records for Pierre and his sons and the Huguenots who migrated to Canterbury, is an involvement in the handling or creation of textiles. A large proportion of the Huguenot refugees in Canterbury were weavers, and there is at least one Acadian census indicating that Pierre, the son, was a tailor.

The migration of Huguenots to England does not seem to have extended to Yorkshire. Therefore, I’m inclined to assume that since it’s unlikely for Pierre to have been in Yorkshire, it is possible Priscilla had lived – whether permanently or temporarily – and if indeed she came from Yorkshire, in one of the areas of Huguenot settlement listed above.

Recently, I decided to do a broad search for anything I can find of the names ‘Mellanson’ and ‘Laverdure’ in England, hopefully to find documentary evidence of their arrival, residency, marriage or birth of their sons. There is very little to be found. As others have stated in the past, the Mallinson surname and all of its variations appear most frequently in Yorkshire, England. However, it does appear in varying concentrations throughout the rest of England and I have been unable to find records of any Priscilla of that surname with any Peter or Pierre.

Due to the widespread belief of her origin being Yorkshire, based on the frequency of the ‘Mellanson’ and other variants of the surname in Yorkshire, I proceeded to search for references to ‘Pierre Laverdure’ or ‘Pierre dit Laverdure’ in combination with ‘Priscilla Mellanson’ or just ‘Priscilla’ on its own. I used soundex searches, hoping to find obscure references to the names or variants in spelling and combinations I may otherwise have missed. Nothing was found.  I then searched for Priscilla with Pierre, or possibly Priscilla with Peter. Although there were some results, in none of them was the surname even close to that of Pierre Laverdure.

Not finding any close possibilities in Yorkshire, I decided to conduct the same search for all of England. The following were the results of my search, again using soundex for the broadest results:

  • A marriage record for a Peter Mailes to a Presilla Browne on February 28, 1619 in Bottisham, Cambridge, England.
  • A birth record for Prisella Mellen on March 30, 1605 in Hothfield, Kent, England.

Both of these are possibilities, but rather vague ones at best. Is it not possible that Prisella’s maiden name was Mellen and her sons Pierrre and Charles subsequently added the ‘son’ and went by Mellenson?

I was amazed to find a birth record for Peter Verdere on May 21, 1631 at Saint George Collegiate, Norwich, Norfolk, England. Could this be a misspelling or anglicized version of La Verdure? We already know from the documents found in Boston, Priscilla did refer to Pierre as ‘Peter’. This birth date is definitely at the right time, considering the Acadian censuses showing the first Pierre’s son with a birth date of 1631/32.  The father’s name is also noted on the record as Peter Verdere. Cambridge is close enough to Kent where Prisella Mellen was born that it’s not unlikely that they could have met and married.

Other Verdere records I located include:

  • James Verdere, married to Elisabeth on September 1, 1651 in Heigham, Norfolk, England.
  • Anne Verdeer, baptised September 19, 1665 in St. John Timberhill, Norwich, Norfolk, England.
  • Deborah Verdeere, baptised September 10, 1666 in St. John Timberhill, Norwich, Norfolk, England to Peter Verdeere and Jude.
  • Judith Virdeer, baptised April 2, 1668 in St. Gregoryes, Norwich, Norfolk, England, showing parents to be Peter Virdeer and Judith.
  • Peter Verdere, buried December 26, 1668 in St. Gregoryes, Norwich, Norfolk, England.
  • Elizabeth Verdier, baptised March 5, 1672 in St. Gregory, Norwich, Norfolk, England, showing Peter and Judith as her parents.
  • James Verdier, baptised March 19, 1676 in St. Gregory, Norwich, Norfolk, England.
  • James Verdere, buried on February 16, 1681 in St. Johns of Maddermarket, Norwich, Norfok, England, showing his father as Peter Verdere.

The burial of Peter Verdere in 1668 could be that of his father, who was also named Peter. Or, less likely is the possibility that this was a brother or other relative. Although at first glance the burial of Peter Verdere in 1668 after the births of several children may seem to eliminate this Peter as our  Pierre dit Laverdure, it is important to note that the common practice at the time among the French was to reuse given names several times – even among siblings. I could speculate that the Peter who immigrated to Amercica in 1657 with his father, also Peter, may have been a brother to another son with the name of Peter as a middle name. Upon the death or removal of one son by a given name like our Pierre, it was quite common to either name a second son (and brother to the deceased) born later with the same name, or for an existing son to adopt the name.

My own extensive French heritage through the Acadians on my mother’s side and the French Canadians in Quebec on my father’s side, provide numerous examples of this practice. If this were indeed the case, this Pierre Verdere having fathered the children after 1657 and his dying in 1668 would not necessarily preclude him from being a son to our Pierre Laverdure and a brother to the Pierre Laverdure who immigrated with his father in 1657. It is unfortunate that none of these records name the wife and/or mother.

Considering the distance from Norwich to Cambridge is only about 75 kilometers, and Cambridge having been a main center for the settlement of Huguenots, this appears to be a more likely place for Pierre Laverdure to have been than Yorkshire.

If anyone else has found anything that may be evidence of our Pierre Laverdure and Priscilla Mellanson and their family in England, please get in touch with me. I would greatly appreciate any help I can get to solve this family mystery.

photo credit:

  1. Arsenault, Bona, History of the Acadians; La Fondation de la Société hisorique de la Gapsésie, Gaspé, Québec, 1994.
  2. Melanson, Margaret C., The Melanson Story; Acadian Family, Acadian Times; University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2003.
  3. Ross, Sally and Alphonse Deveau, The Acadians of Nova Scotia, Past & Present; Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, 1992.
  4. White, Stephen A., Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes, Vols. 1 and 2, CEA, Moncton, 1999.
  5. White, Stephen A. and Brenda Dunn, Acadian Family Names. Les Editions d’Acadie, Moncton, NB, 1992.
  6. Welcome to the Fortress of Louisbourg. The Fortress of Louisbourg. © The Louisbourg Institute, 1996; ().
  7. Welcome to the Town of Annapolis Royal. Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. © Parks Canada Agency; (
  8. Museé Acadien de Université de Moncton. Acadian History 1604 – 1755. Ivan Smith; (
  9. History of Nova Scotia; Book #1: Acadia. © 1998-2003. Authored by Peter Landry; (
  10. New Orleans Genesis; Acadians of Belle-Isle-en-Mer ,1635-1767; by Lepre, Jerome Publication: Santa
  11. Cruz County Genealogical Society Library; vol. XXXV, no. 138 (Apr 1996); pp .112-120, Pierre Melancon: The Elusive Acadian, by John K . Harrel.
  12. Michael B. Melanson, Melanson – Melancon: Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family (Dracut, Massachusetts: Lanesville Publishing, 2004).
  13. The Seizure of ‘The Pembroke’ by the Acadians, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  14.; (
  15. The Free Dictionary Online; (

The starvation of the Lady of Hay.


The story behind the starvation of the Lady of Hay.


William de Briouse, starvation of the Lady of Hay
William de Briouse, starvation of the Lady of Hay

William de Briouse III (25th great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart) was the son of William de Briouse II, Lord of Abergavenny (as well as Briouse, Bramber, Brecon and Over-Gwent) and his wife Berthe of Hereford.

He is believed to have been born about 1155 and he died August 9, 1211 and was buried August 10, 1211 in Paris. He married Maud (Mathilde) de Saint-Valéry, Dame de la Haie of the famed tale of the starvation of the Lady of Hay, (…and 25th great grandmother to Erin and Stuart), about 1170 or 1175. Maud de Saint-Valéry was the daughter of Bernard III, de Saint-Valéry and his wife Anora (Avoris).

William III and Maud had ten children: Marguerite de Briouse (1175-1255); Laurette de Briouse (1184-?); Eleanor (?-1241); William “the Younger” IV, de Briouse (1185-1210); Philip de Briouse; Matilda de Briouse; unknown; unknown; Reynold de Briouse, Lord of Abergavenny (1178-1227); and Isobel de Briouse (1184-?).

Hay Castle, starvation of the Lady of Hay
Hay Castle, location of the starvation of the Lady of Hay and her son, William IV de Briouse.

William III was descended from William de Braose, Lord of Braose, who had received great estates at the time of the conquest in England and had settled at Bramber. William III had also inherited lands in one of either Totnes or Barnstaple through his grandmother, and had also inherited great Welsh estates of his grandfather, Bernard de Neufmarche through his mother, Bertha, including that of Hay Castle in Wales (see right).

During the reign of Richard III, William III was Sheriff of Herefordshire between 1192 and 1199 and a Justice Itinerant for Staffordshire in 1196. Having been with Richard in Normandy in 1195, he received both Totnes and Barnstaple by agreement with his original co-heir.

Upon the accession and coronation of King John (24th great grandfather to Erin and Stuart), and having achieved a place in the King’s favour, he accompanied King John to Normandy in 1200, and was granted all lands he conquered from the Welsh. he was also made Sheriff of Herefordshire between 1206 and 1207. Other lands William III had acquired through various means during these years included Limerick (without the city), custody of Glamorgan Castle, Gowerland, Grosmont, Llantilio (or White Castle), and Skenfrith Castles. , but shortly after he began to fall from favour, although the reasons for this have never been clear.

From records in the Red Book of the Exchequer, it would appear that it was a quarrel about repayment of his agreed debts. The evidence shows that in 1207, he had only paid 700 marks in total, a small portion of what should have been paid based on the agreed 500 marks per year. After being five years in arrears, the crown had the right to seize his estates. It was learned that he had removed the stock, and the king’s bailiff then acted under orders to seize him.

William III’s friends having acted on his behalf, they met with the King and William was permitted to come to the King at Hereford to surrender his castles of Hay, Brecknock, and Radnor in repayment of his arrears. William III, however, failed to make any further repayment of the debt and the King sent his men to demand hostages of William, but supposedly against William’s advice, Maud refused them. Having reached a point of no return, William attempted to seize control of his castles. However, he failed at this and subsequently attacked Leominster. As the royal forces approached, he and his family fled to Ireland and his estates were seized by the King.

William III was harboured in Ireland by friends who promised to surrender him within a certain time. However, they only sent William III when John’s invasion of Ireland became imminent. William III proceeded no further than Wales, however, where he later offered 40,000 marks in return for his lands. William’s wife, Maud, was besieged by John in Ireland and fled to Scotland, where she, her son William and his wife were captured in Galloway and escorted to John at Carrickfergus. Using Maud as leverage, John bargained for repayment of the 40,000 marks. Yet again, however, payment was not forthcoming and William III was outlawed, resulting in his fleeing in disguise to France, where he died.

His wife, Maud, who was largely blamed for his downfall, was imprisoned with her eldest son William IV by John in Corfe Castle (see above) and they were both starved to death there.

The second son, the Philip de Briouse, Bishop of Hereford, returned to England on July 16, 1214, and paid a 9,000 mark fine for his father’s lands. As this son died very soon after, John allowed the lands to then pass to the third son Reynold de Briouse on May 26, 1216, who also, under Henry III, recovered the Irish estates.


  • Foundation for Medieval Genealogy online
  • Dictionary of National Biography, Vols. 1-21; George Smith; Oxford Press, (1885-1990).
  • The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdon, Extant, Extinct or Dormant; G.E. Cokayne with Vicary Gibbs, H.A. Doubleday, Geoffrey H. White, Duncan Warrand and Lord Howard de Walden, editors, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910-1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume I).
  • The Magna Carta Sureties; 1215; Weis, Frederick Lewis, Th.D. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.), 5th Ed., c 1999.
  • A Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire; Sir Bernard Burke (1883).

photo credit: creative commons license;

War Diary of September 15-16, 1916 at Courcelette for Pte. Joseph Turmaine

War Diary of September 15-16, 1916 at Courcelette for Pte. Joseph Turmaine.


Report on the Operation by 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion, on the morning of September 15th 1916.



Reference Sheets COURCELETTE and LE MOUQUET 1/5,000.


Turmaine, Joseph - War Diary - September 15, 1916 - 1
Turmaine, Joseph – War Diary – September 15, 1916 – pg 1.

The Battalion left the BRICKFIELDS at 2.00p.m. on 14th Sept. and proceeded to Brigade Headquarters at X.ii.a.2.2. arriving there at 5.00p.m. Two platoons of D Coy. relieved the right Company of the 29th Battn. in front line by 6.30.p.m. The Battn. left Brigade H.Q. at 9.00p.m. and proceeded to the front line to take up position in Assembly Trenches. Owing to congestion of trenches this was not completed till 4.25a.m. The Battn. frontage extended from R.35.c.2.9 1/2 to R.35.c.6.5. Battn.H.Q. were located at R.35.c.4.3. At 6.20a.m. the artillery barrage opened, 50 yards in advance of German trench and the first wave commenced crawling over. As the barrage lifted the Battn. advanced on to the  first German Line and reached the trench, the Germans threw up their hands and surrendered. At least 70 dead Germans were counted in this trench This objective was reported to Battn.H.Q. as being taken at 6.27a.m. The Battn. followed up the barrage closely andmet very little opposition at SUNKEN ROAD, Germans surrendering in large numbers. By this time the first wave was nearly wiped out and the second wave took its place. A Company then swung to the left and captured its last objective with one Corpl. and 15 O.R. C and D Coys. reached their objectives and immediately commenced to dig in. This was reported to Battn. H.Q. at 7.40a.m. The line held ran from R.35.b.5. ? 1/2 on SUNKEN ROAD, through R.30.c.0.2. to R.30.c.5.2. Garrison holding this line consisted of 120 all ranks and 4 Lewis Guns located in advance posts at R.30.c.0.2 – 1.2. – 3.2. – 5.3. Owing to casualties the following reinforcements were sent up from B Coy.: – 1 platton to A Coy. on the left and 2 platoons to D Coy. on the right. 4 Officers only were left. Lieuts. McElligott, Holdsworth, Hamilton and Terndrup. Lieut Holdsworth showed great courage and devotion to duty until killed by an enemy sniper. Lieut. Hamilton n the left flank carried on under most trying conditions even after being buried by shells. He was eventually severely wounded on the afternoon of the 16th inst. Enemy attempted to advance up SUNKEN ROAD but were driven off by our Lewis Gun fire. A large number also advanced into a field South West of COURCELETTE and commenced sniping our frontage from this flank. Our Colt and Lewis Guns dealt with the satisfactorily. Two patrols of 1 Lewis gun and 30 men each from the 31st Battn. pushed on towards COURCELETTE but were forced to return to our line owing to the barrage fire. At 11.25p.m. 15th Sept. Lieut. McElligott took command of the whole of our frontage of 3 Coys. and showed great courage and ability in the organizing and consolidation work. The enemy artillery fire was very intense for 48 hours on our front line.
Colt Machine Guns.
Colt machine guns followed behind the third wave and took up positions as follows :-
No. 1 gun at R.30.c.5.1.
No. 2 gun at protecting gap at R.29.d.10.? 1.2.
No. 3 gun at R.35.b.6.7. This gun did excellent work on small parties of Huns who persisted in creeping up towards our new front line.
No. 4 gun was located on a knoll in rear of SUNKEN ROAD and covered our left frontage. When No. 2 gun had established themselves Sergt. F.W.Haines pointed out a German machine gun and crew with a number of snipers dug in in a shell hole 200 yards away. Pte. Stewart opened up with a belt knocking out a number of the party. Sgt.Haines, Corpl. Hancock and Pte.Stewart dashed forward under cover of our machine guns and captured a new model German Maxim. Germans to the number of 6 Officers and 16O.R. surrendered. Sergt.Haines, waving his revolver, motioned them to evacuate in pairs. They filed out and were marched to the  Field Ambulance party near by where they were used as stretcher bearers. The enemy hadthrown away the feed block of the captured gun but after considerable careful searching this was located in a shell hole. The gun was then mounted and turned on enemy snipers, causing considerable casualties.



Turmaine, Joseph - War Diary - September 15, 1916 - 2
Turmaine, Joseph – War Diary – September 15, 1916 – pg. 2.

Communication. Our Signallers advanced behind the fourth wave and ran three separate lines to the final objective. These were joined up laterally in the front line, SUNKEN ROAD and the German front line. Communication, however, could not be kept as all the wires were broken by shell fire.
Battalion Scouts were utilized in the following manner :-
Two Scouts each to the following tasks :-
1. The taking of the German front line.
2. The taking of SUNKEN ROAD.
3. The taking of the left Coy.objective.
4. The taking and sonsolidation of the final objective by all Coys. All these Scouts reported successfully yo Battn.H.Q. on the completion of their observation.
Runners were employed continuously and although 75 per cent became casualties, a good number of messages were got through.
Visual Signalling was attempted with flags and flappers but this drew the enemy’s fire and could not be carried on.
Carrying Parties. During the first 24 hours, owing to the intense barrage it was only possible to get through very limited supplies. Coys. and Sections were instructed to collect water, ammunition, bombs and rations from the dead. Our stretcher bearers worked unceasingly carrying out the wounded. The following day, 16th Sept., 7 parties were organized and succeeded in getting through to the front line with tea, mulligan, rations, water, ammunition and bombs. These parties, under Lieut.Coombes and Reg.Sgt.-Mjr.Underwood also succeededin evacuating the wounded, burying the dead and cleared up the battle field. A salvage dump was established at SUNKEN ROAD. A good supply dump was also established in the old German front line. Great credit is due to Reg.S.M. Underwood for the success of this work.
The Battn. evacuated the trenches at 2.00a.m. 17th Sept. 1916 and proceeded to Brigade Reserve (5th Cdn.Inf.Bde.) at X.ii.a.2.2.
Our casualties amounted to Killed 5 officers,   67   O.R. –
Wounded 7  do. 243   do.
Missing     1  do.   71   do.
Total All Ranks 394.
At 8.00p.m. 17th Sept. 1916 the Battn. was relieved by the 1st Cdn.Battn. and proceeded to bivouacs at the BRICKFIELDS near ALBERT.
Prisoners captured by the Battalion amounted to 200.

[Signature of Officer Here]
Lieut. Col.
Commanding 27th (C.of W.)Battn.
6th Inf.Bde., 2nd Canadian Div.



The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

The Bourgs of Acadia


I and my children are descended from several noteworthy immigrants from France who were original pioneers of Acadia, including the Bourgs of Acadia.


In the past, I have posted about our Melanson ancestors, who we most readily associate ourselves with, since the family name carried down through the generations to my mother, who stopped using the Melanson name upon marrying my father, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine.

Bourgs of Acadia were a founding family in Port Royal
Bourgs of Acadia lived in Port Royal.

In fact, considering sheer numbers, our ties to the Bourg family are the strongest. Antoine Bourg, originally from Martaizé, near Loudon, in France, was the original pioneer of this family and 9th great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart. The Bourg and Melanson families intersect with the marriage of Anne (Jeanne) Bourg, daughter of François Bourg and Marguerite Boudrot to Charles Melanson, son of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas (and grandson to the original Melanson pioneer couple – Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla (Mellanson).


Antoine Bourg


Antoine was born in about 1609 in Martaizé, Loudun, Vienne, France. He immigrated to Port Royal around 1640 and married Antoinette Landry in 1643. Born about 1618 in France, she lived in Bourg Village near Port Royal with her family and shows in the 1693 Acadian census as a widow in the house of her son Abraham and his wife Marie in Port Royal. Therefore, it seems safe to assume Antoine died prior to 1693. According to this same census, her property at the time consisted of 12 cattle, 20 sheep, eight hogs, 26 arpents of land and one gun.

Their children were François (born about 1643); Marie Bourg (1644-1730); Jean Bourg (1645-1703); Bernard Bourg (1649-1725); Martin Bourg; Jeanne Bourg (1650-abt 1700); Renée Bourg (born about 1655); Huguette Bourg (1657); Jeanne Bourg (1658-1724); Abraham Bourg (1660-after 1736); Marguerite Bourg (1667-1727); Alexander Bourg (1667).

In various Acadian censuses, Antoine Bourg is recorded to own land holdings of various sizes; differing quantities of livestock including cattle, sheep and hogs; and a gun.

Sir William Phipps
Sir William Phipps

In 1690, a New England Commander, Sir William Phips, took Port Royal. Governor Meneval of Acadia, after considering the circumstances and the fact that they were greatly outnumbered, opted to surrender. At the time of his surrender, Meneval was assured the church and private property would be left alone, but over twelve days of pillaging, the church and several private buildings were destroyed.

Phips made the Acadians swear allegiance to King William and Queen Mary, in what Phips later falsely described as great rejoicings and acclaim.

After Phips left Acadia, the Acadians lived in a political and patriotic limbo. Authority had not been asserted by either New England or France and the Acadians, preferring to avoid more direct authority and control, insisted the French representative not try to change anything. They feared the English would hear of it and decide to return to punish them. New England made no attempt to assert its authority and the French made no attempt to regain control.

My children and I are directly descended from three of their sons, namely Francois, Bernard and Abraham, who were each an eighth great grandfather to my children.


François Bourg


The oldest child of Antoine and Antoinette was François Bourg born about 1643 in Port Royal. About 1665, he married Marguerite Boudrot (born 1648), daughter of Michel Boudrot and Michelle Aucoin.  Their seven children were Michel “Michaud” Bourg (1663-1712); Marie Bourg (born 1668); Alexandre “dit Belle-humeur” Bourg (1671-1760); Marguerite Bourg (born 1673); Magdeleine Bourg (born 1677); Pierre Bourg (born 1681); Anne “Jeanne” Bourg (1683-1749), married to Charles Melanson (1675-1757) and both being my children`s seventh great grandparents. During the years 1671 to 1678, François is recorded as a farmer who in 1678 owned eight acres of land and 15 cattle. François died sometime around 1686 in Port Royal.


Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat


Of particular interest and notoriety, is the husband of François Bourg`s daughter Magdeleine. Commonly known as `Baptiste`, he was Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat.

Born in 1663, in Bergerac, France, he was notorious and fairly well documented as a pirate and cad. He also would be thought of as a playboy by today`s standards. Taken in May of 1690 as one of the prisoners of Sir William Phips during his seizure of Port Royal, Baptiste sometime afterward managed to gain his freedom. The following year, he dedicated much of his time to sailing the waters of New England in his quest for prizes.

Governor Frontenac of Quebec
Governor Frontenac of Quebec

Although Baptiste was frequently captured, charged, imprisoned and even on one later occasion sentenced to hanging, he either managed to escape on his own or was released after intervention and negotiations on his behalf by Governor Frontenac of Quebec on several occasions or the Governor of Acadia on another occasion by threatening retaliation were Baptiste indeed hanged.

During his pirating career, Baptiste took François Bourg`s 15 year old daughter Magdeleine as his bride in 1693. Shortly after marrying, Baptiste moved his new wife to Quebec on the pretense that she was in danger in Port Royal. It is far more likely, from what we now know, he wished to hide his marriage from those who were already aware of his other wives in several other localities including France. On November, 1695, Frontenac wrote to the Minister of France, to whom he had once praised Baptiste, informing him that he had heard that Baptiste had several other wives, including in various locations. It is definite that Baptiste had one wife at Bergerac, France, namely Judith Soubiron (born 1660), who gave birth to his daughter Judith-Marie Maisonnat in 1689.

In 1695, once the news of Baptiste`s polygamy broke in Acadia, Magdeleine, recent mother to his daughter Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat Bourg decided to return home to her father and mother.

Baptiste then returned to France to retrieve his lawful wife and daughter. His wife, Judith Soubiron, later bore him two more children, Pierre and Jean, dying in Port Royal on October 19, 1703.

Baptiste remarried on January 12, 1707, to a widow, Marguerite Bourgeois, the daughter of Jacques Bourgeois. She had been married twice previously, first to Jean Boudrot, son of Michel Boudrot; second to Emmanuel Mirande, a Portuguese.

Baptiste`s poor young bride, Magdeleine Bourg, later married Pierre LeBlanc, Jr. in 1697. He was the son of Pierre LeBlanc, Sr. and Marie Terriot. They had seven children.

Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat


Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat, the daughter of Baptiste and Magdeleine Bourg, was a major influence in Annapolis Royal during the late 1600`s. Known to be somewhat domineering and aloof, she fostered enough grudging respect and influence that she could exercise her own authority in the matters of soldiers, whether to be released from custody or other administrative matters without her right to do so being questioned. She presided at councils of war in the fort, appearing to have inherited some of her father`s spirit and drive.

In 1711, at about 16 years of age, she married William Winniett, a French Huguenot who was a leading merchant in Acadia, at some point receiving the title of “Honorable”`, becoming a member of the Governor`s Council. His sympathy for the Acadians was made obvious resulting in his being under suspicion. He drowned in Boston, bequeathing his considerable property and assets “to my beloved wife Magdeleine Winniett,” whom he had appointed sole executrix. William Winniett and Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat had 13 children born in Annapolis, including seven boys and six girls.

Bernard Bourg


Antoine and Antoinette Bourg’s fourth child, Bernard, was born in 1649 in Port Royal. About 1670, he married Françoise Brun (1652-1725), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie-Renée Brau, both immigrants to Acadia from France.  They had eleven children, including Marguerite “Margueritte” Bourg (1670-1747); Marie-Claire “Claire” Bourg (1670); René Bourg (born 1676); Jeanne Bourg (1677-1725); Anne Bourg (1680-1751); Françoise Bourg (1682-1715); Claire “Clare” Bourg (born 1682); Abraham Bourg (1685-1751); Renée Bourg (1687); Marie Bourg (1690); Claire Bourg (1692). Between 1671 and 1725, Bernard and his family continuously lived in Port Royal, their livestock and personal property steadily increasing in quantity and value over the years. Prior to his death in Port Royal on May 23, 1725, Bernard had amassed an estate consisting of  24 cattle, 18 sheep, 30 arpents of land and one gun.


Abraham Bourg


Born 1662 at Port-Royal, Abraham was the tenth child of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry. In 1683, Abraham married a young widow, Marie- Sébastienne Brun (1658-1736), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie Brau. Marie`s first husband was François Gautrot, who died young, leaving her alone to care for a young son, also named François. They were recorded in the 1678 census of Port Royal with a young son, two cattle and a gun. Young François was recorded living with his new family 1791 census. Abraham and Marie- Sébastienne had nine children including Jean-Baptiste Bourg (born 1683); Marguerite Bourg (born 1685); Claude Bourg (1687-1751); Pierre Bourg (1689-1735); Marie Bourg (1690-1727); Marguerite Bourg (born 1691); Michel Bourg (1691-1761); Charles Bourg (born 1694); and Joseph Bourg (born 1697).

Abraham is show in the Acadian censuses between 1686 and 1701 accumulating up to 26 arpents of land; livestock including up to 14 head of cattle, 20 sheep and 12 hogs; and dozens of fruit trees.

Abraham appears to be a relatively educated person of standing as his signature is recorded on the 1695 oath and in the Port Royal church register. He also witnessed the marriage of his daughter, Marie and Jean Fougère, as well as his son Michel’s wedding to Anne Boudrot.

Abraham was one of those chosen to sail to Ile Royale to assess the lands there for settling. The land was found to not be good for farming and the majority of Acadians did not wish to leave the fertile lands of the Annapolis Valley. It appears though, that Abraham did settle there as in 1720, the first record appears indicating he was living in Port Toulouse, Ile-Royale.

Abraham Bourg was chosen to be a Deputy chosen representing the Acadian districts in 1720, but was apparently released from his duties in 1726 due to his deteriorating condition and lameness.

On September 16, 1727 he was one of those who refused to take the oath of allegiance to George II. Lieutenant-Governor Lawrence Armstrong claimed that they had assembled the inhabitants a day earlier and “instead of persuading them to their duty by solid arguments of which they were not incapable they [the deputies] frightened them . . . by representing the oath so strong and binding that neither they nor their children should ever shake off the yoke.” Although many had taken the oath in 1695, the Acadians were using the taking of the oath as a bargaining tool in 1727. They claimed and wished to preserve neutrality between the English and the French and Mik’maq. The Acadians also strongly wished to practice their own religion.

The Deputies were sentenced to prison for their actions in opposition to the adopting of the oath. Bourg, “in consideration of his great age” (he was 67) was allowed to leave the territory without his goods. For their alleged opposition they were committed to prison. The others were released in a short time, so Abraham may never have left at all.

Abraham died and was buried at Port Toulouse, but the actual dates are not known.



Translating French words for genealogy research can be tricky.


In researching genealogy, translating French words for genealogy research can be tricky, and the same goes for other languages as well, and mistakes can easily be made.


Getting one term, phrase or word wrong can mean taking your research off in the wrong direction based on the interpretation of that word.


Obituary for Paul-Henri Boily, 1926-1998

While researching my French Canadian, Acadian and French Canadian ancestors, I frequently came across terms that needed translation. From past experience, I knew it was important to not make a snap judgment of the meaning of a term based on its similarity to another French word, an English word, or words in any other language.

The most obvious example that comes to mind is ‘journalier.’ Upon first impression, I thought this might mean ‘journalist’ but after checking into it further, I discovered it meant a ‘day laborer.’

Here is my list of the French terms for occupations that are encountered most frequently in vital documents and records.

à la retraite retired
agriculteur farmer, husbandman
aide de sous commis helper to asst clerk
apothicaire pharmacist
apprenti(e) apprentice
apprêteur(euse) tanner, dresser of skins
archer bowman
architecte architect
argentier silversmith
armurier gunsmith
arpenteur, arpentier land surveyor
arquebusier matchlock gunsmith
artisan handicraftsman
aubergiste innkeeper
aumonier army chaplain
avocat, avocate lawyer, barrister
bailli bailiff
banqier(ère) banker
becheur(euse) digger
bedeau church sexton
bédeau beadle
beurrier(ère) butter-maker
bibliothécaire librarian
blanchisseur(eusse) laundryman, woman
bonnetier(ère) hosier
boucher(ère) butcher
boulanger(ère) baker
bourgeois(e) privileged person
boutonnier button-maker
braconnier poacher
brasseur(euse) brewer
briqueteur bricklayer
briquetier brick-maker
bucheron woodcutter
cabaretier(ère) saloon keeper
caissier(ère) cashier
calfat caulker
camionneur truck driver
cannonier gunner (canon)
cantinier(ère) canteen-keeper
capitaine de milice captain of the militia
capitaine de navire ship captain
capitaine de port port captain
capitaine de vaisseau ship captain
capitaine des troupes troup captain
cardeur(euse) carder(textiles)
chamoisseur chamois-dresser
chancelier chancellor
chandelier chandle-maker
chanteur(euse) singer
chapelier(èr) hatter, hatmaker
charbonnier(ère) coal merchant
charcutier(ère) port-butcher
charpentier carpenter, framer
charpentier de navires shipwright
charretier carter
charron cartwright, wheelwright
chasseur hunter
chaudronnier coppersmith, tinsmith
chaufournier furnace tender
chef cook
chevalier horseman, calvary
chirurgien surgeon
cloutier nail-maker, dealer
cocher coachman, driver
colonel colonel
commandant commander
commis clerk
commissaire d’artillerie arms stewart
commissaire de la marine ship’s purser
compagnon journeyman
comptable accountant, bookkeeper
concierge janitor, caretaker
confiseur(euse) confectioner
conseilleur counsellor, advisor
contrebandier smuggler
contremaître overseer, foreman
controleur superintendant
cordier ropemaker
cordonnier cobbler, shoemaker
corroyeur curier, leatherdresser
coureur-des-bois trapper
courrier courier, messenger
courvreur en ardoise slate roofer
coutelier cutlery maker
couturier(ère) tailor, dressmaker
couvreur roofer
couvreur en bardeau roofer who roofs with shingles
cuisinier en chef chef
cuisinier(ère) cook
cultivateur(trice) farmer
curé pastor
débardeur stevedore
défricheur clearer (of forest)
dentiste dentist
docteur doctor
domestique indentured servant, farmhand
douairière dowager
douanier(ère) custom officer
drapier clothmaker, clothier
ébeniste cabinet maker
écclésiastique clergyman
échevin alderman
écolier(ère) student
écuyer esquire
électricien electrician
éleveur(euse) animal breeder
employé(e) employee
engagé ouest hired to trap furs out west
enseigne ensign
enseigne de vaisseau ship’s sub-lieutenant
ferblantier tinsmith
fermier agricultural worker
fonctionnaire civil servant
forgeron smith, blacksmith
huissier sheriff
ingénieur engineer
journalier(ère) day laborer
maçon mason, bricklayer
marchand merchant
médecin doctor
mendiant beggar
menuisier carpenter
meunier miller
maître d’école school master, headmaster, principal
maîtresse d’école school mistress, headmistress, principal
navigateur sailor
notaire lawyer, solicitor
ouvrier worker
pecheur fisherman
peintre painter
pilote ship’s pilot, harbor pilot
pompier fireman
potier potter
prêtre priest
rentier retiree
scieur sawyer
seigneur land owner, landlord
sellier saddler
tailleur tailor
tanneur tanner
tonnellier cooper (barrel-maker)
vicaire vicar

Melansons in Acadia

Melanson-Crest-150x1501.jpgPierre ‘dit Laverdure and his wife Priscilla Mellanson (my eighth great grandparents on my mother’s side) were known by the name, nickname or title of Laverdure. We are descended from the second of their three sons, Charles ‘dit la Ramee’ Mellanson, (my seventh great grandfather).

The origin of the name ‘Laverdure’ is not known, but it is believed that this was actually a title or nickname referring to the area of France from which Pierre came. This is supported by the fact that he was not the only one to use the Laverdure name. The common practice of the day in the French culture was to signify a title or nickname with the use of the preceding word ‘dit’, such as ‘dit Laverdure’ in this case.Two of their sons, Pierre (of the nickname ‘Laverdure’ as well) and Charles (nickname La Ramee), appear to be the first to have begun using “Mellanson” and were both well educated and literate in English and French. The origin of this surname is unclear as their father was not known to have used it. There is speculation that ‘Mellanson’ originated from Priscilla’s last name, which is believed by some to have been Mallinson. This belief is supported by the fact that there is a document containing Priscilla’s signature as the initials ‘PM’, since neither of her married names began with the letter ‘M’.

Pierre and Priscilla had another son named John, who was also known by the name ‘Laverdure’, as was Charles dit La Ramée Mellanson’s daughter Marie (later known as Mary Laverdure), who lived with her grandmother Priscilla in Boston from a young age.

Pierre and Priscilla immigrated to Acadia (see image at left) from England on the ship ‘Satisfaction’ with the English Governor of Acadia, Sir Thomas Temple and several other settlers. They disembarked at St. John’s Fort on the St. John River. Pierre and Priscilla remained in Acadia for ten years.

About 1667, the Treaty of Breda between the English and French resulted in control of Acadia reverting back to France.

Being Protestants, Pierre and Priscilla most likely moved to Boston, Massachusetts to avoid living under a French Catholic government. A petition on file in Boston refers to ‘Peter Laverdure’ as a French Protestant and ‘Priscilla Laverdure’ as an English woman. It also states that Priscilla’s husband left St. John’s Fort to escape the Catholics, supporting the theory that Pierre may have been an Huguenot who left France in the 1620’s to escape Catholic intolerance of Protestants. Pierre is later shown in England where he married Priscilla about 1630.

Having both converted to Catholicism, eldest son Pierre dit Laverdure married Marie-Marguerite Muis d’Entremont, daughter of Philippe Muis d’Entremont and Madeleine Hélie; and Charles dit La Ramée married Marie Dugas, daughter of Abraham Dugas and Marie-Marguerite-Louise Doucet. Pierre and his wife Marie-Marguerite founded Grand Pré at Les Mines (Minas). Later becoming the Captain of the Militia while Acadia was under French control, he held a position of authority and some power in the Les Mines. He was also known to have become a French spy.

Charles became a spy for the English – the opposing side of his own brother, Pierre. In 1695, he signed his name to an oath of allegiance to the King of England at Port Royal.

It’s important to know naming conventions for genealogy #namingconventions.


I have learned to pay close attention to the names of individuals in my research as knowledge of naming conventions can be key to investigating a family’s genealogy. Frequently, the names provide valuable clues to the answers to my questions.


Individuals from differing cultures, time periods, religions and families were known to follow specific traditions and naming conventions. It’s important to know these naming conventions for genealogy research as accuracy of your conclusions can be adversely affected by misinterpreting names, titles, etc.


These practices could also change over time according to the practices of the day.

Below are some examples of naming practices I encountered in my research.

It’s very important to note that making assumptions in genealogy using only naming conventions is dangerous as these conventions were not followed by everyone. However, knowing naming conventions can be great help finding an ancestor as long as the other information matches to confirm the identity.



Last names in France.
Last names in France.
  • Instead of surnames as we know them, the French in the 17th and 18th centuries routinely adopted nicknames or titles denoted by the word ‘dit’  or ‘dite’ before it. This title or nickname could have referred to any number of things including a descriptive term, location, family or property in France. This was the case for my ancestor, Pierre dit Laverdure, one of the Huguenots to settle in Acadia in the mid-17th century. I couldn’t find the translation for ‘Laverdure’, but I was able to find a modern translation for ‘verdure’ as follows:

a. The lush greenness of flourishing vegetation.
b. Vigorous greenery.
2. A fresh or flourishing condition: the verdure of childhood.

[Middle English, from Old French, from verd, green, from Latin viridis.]

My reasoning is that, based on this definition, there are several possibilities, including: he was from a lush, green, fertile area of France; he was involved in forest management or forestry; he was in a profession concerned with vegetation such as farming; the ‘fresh or flourishing condition’ referred to in the definition above could allude to his being ‘young’, ‘youthful’, ‘vigorous’, or ‘junior’ to someone.


French Canada


  • Giving all children of the same gender the same middle name, usually in honor of a relative or ancestor.
  • Naming children after parents and grandparents (either given or middle name).
  • After the death of a child, they frequently used the name for a sibling born later.
  • Children were often given hyphenated first and middle names (i.e. Marie-Madeleine or Jean-Jacques), but they would frequently adopt one or the other for everyday use.
  • French-Canadians and Metis in early days often followed the original French convention of using the prefix of ‘dit’ or ‘ditte’ as above.




  • During and after the civil war, slaves frequently adopted the surname of their current or previous owner.



Irish surnames.
Irish surnames.


  • 1st son was named after the father’s father.
  • 2nd son was named after the mother’s father.
  • 3rd son was named after the father.
  • 4th son was named after the father’s eldest brother.


  • 1st daughter was named after the mother’s mother.
  • 2nd daughter was named after the father’s mother.
  • 3rd daughter was named after the mother.
  • 4th daughter was named after the mother’s eldest sister


UK, USA and Canada

British last names.
British last names.
  • One or more children in a family, regardless of gender, were frequently given their mother’s maiden name as a middle name to carry that name on within the family. Infrequently, I have seen  families where one or more of the children had the mother’s maiden name as a middle name.




  • In Wales, individuals carried their father’s given name as a surname, preceded by a term signifying whether they were male or female. The son of a man named Rhys would use the surname ‘ap (or ab) Rhys’ and a daughter would use ‘ferch (or verch) Rhys’.



Scottish clan map.
Scottish clan map.
  • In Scotland, children were usually given first names according to the following: first son is named after his father’s father; the second son is named after his mother’s father; the third son is named after his father; the first daughter is named after her mother’s mother; the second daughter is named after her father’s mother; and the third daughter is named after her mother.
  • The surname used depended on the region the family came from. For the most part, in the Scottish highlands, the child’s surname was a combination of the prefix ‘Mc’ or ‘Mac’ followed by the given name or variation of the father (i.e. Jonathan McKenzie – the son of Kenneth). In the lowlands, the suffix ‘son’ was added to the given name of the father, as in Johnson, Robertson, Jacobson, etc.
  • The Scottish were also known to take a surname from a location, occupation, and/or physical characteristic.




  • Chinese immigrants frequently took on entirely new names – both given and surnames – in the language of the their new country. Sometimes they would choose names that sounded phonetically similar to their original Chinese names.




  • Japanese names put surname first and given name last. However, names were frequently changed to follow the western convention of given name first and surname last when emigrating to the west.


Roman Catholics


  • Roman Catholics frequently named their children after saints or choose names from the bible, especially in French-Canadian and latin families.


Scandinavia and Iceland

Scandinavian last names.
Scandinavian last names.
  • The children adopted a modified version of the given name of the father as a surname, by adding ‘son’ at the end of the father’s given name. For example, in my husband’s family in Sweden, the name in America was Gummeson, originating with David Gummeson, who was the son of Gumme Svensson, who in turn was the son of Sven Hakansson. For female children, the same practice occurred, but the added suffix was either ‘dottir’ or ‘dotter’, as in Gummesdottir. This could frequently change upon immigration to the west to comply with western naming conventions.




  • Families often adopted naming traditions such as the first-born son and/or daughter being named in some way after either a parent, grandparent or other close relative.
  • Some changed their surname for personal or cultural reasons. In my own family on my father’s side, a male ancestor took exception to his surname of Turmel/Turmelle. In French tradition, the suffix ‘elle’ signifies the female gender. This gentleman had his surname legally changed to Turmaine and it’s carried on in this form to the present day. Other branches of the family retained the Turmel/Turmelle surname.
  • Others changed their surnames for religious reasons. As seen in a recent episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, actress Helen Hunt discovered that an ancestor of hers had changed her name from Rafenberg to Roberts – most likely to escape anti-semitism, especially as she was a widow trying to support her family.

Medieval Genealogy Research: Myth vs. Fact

I have found my many years of our family genealogy research to be both difficult and rewarding; especially medieval research when one has to distinguish between myth and fact. There is no feeling like breaking down a ‘brick wall’ and finding solid support and/or primary genealogy sources to document the finds.


There are a few sites for ancestry research that I consider to be ‘gold standard’. I have itemized these global and Canadian sites in my previous post ‘O Canada!‘ and on the site’s ‘Genealogy Links‘ pages.

Research into my husband’s royal and Welsh Quaker family history has been consistently rewarding and I was able to find sources without a great deal of difficulty – until I reached the medieval period. I spent a great amount of time searching for reliable and respected sites and usually had to resort to entering unsupported data until I could locate sources for verification.

The truth of the matter is that medieval genealogy research incorporates fact and myth and it can be very difficult to verify information as few primary sources are available.

Foundation for Medieval Genealogy LogoThe one site I have found and rely upon the most is that of the ‘Foundation for Medieval Genealogy‘, a non-profit organization consisting of British genealogists and historians with a special interest in the medieval period. They seek to educate in, promote research in and publish results from the study of medieval genealogy.

It is possible to search for specific individuals. However, one thing I have learned is that name spellings can vary greatly. When researching one individual, I will usually search for them first and then close family members second. Once a family member is identified, it’s a simple matter of comparing the data of the others to identify duplicates for merge.

To access the digital collections, it is necessary to register. I have never registered, but I have been able to obtain information by using their open genealogical database that does not require registration.

Those responsible for this database have made every effort to cite the best possible sources in support of their conclusions and deductions. I especially like and respect the fact that they make it clear when information is speculative and provide detailed explanations of their conclusions. Any information that is speculative or unsupported is contained within square brackets (i.e. ‘[ ]’). Facts supported by sources are signified by numerical links to the source citation.

I consider this site to be the best source for medieval genealogy research and would not hesitate to recommend it for such.