January 2014

2 posts

My grandmother Mathilda Audrienne Nicolle
Researching French ancestry can be very difficult and frustrating. The language and geography barriers, finding the exact towns your ancestors were from (and you need to know them too), learning to read very difficult and sloppy handwriting, how and where to turn to for help and the time and patience to pursue your goals. Yet you can do it. I did. When I started out, I didn’t know French, and knew absolutely nothing beside the countries they came from. Today, I’m almost at the end of all my research, a bitter sweet realization. It’s been very rewarding. And it can be for you too. I thought it would be a good idea to share with others how to research French Ancestry, I’ve written tutorials that I hope will aide you in your search. In the meantime..

Let’s Talk French Genealogy!

In your research, you may have come across individuals with seemingly two surnames with ‘dit’ in between them.

Quoting from Denis Beauregard’s article from Francogene.com

“A “dit name” is an alias given to a family name. Compared to other alias or a.k.a. that are given to one specific person, the dit names will be given to many persons. It seems the usage exists almost only in France, New France and in Scotland where we find clans or septs.”

Example: Pierre Verger dit Bertaut. IN this case, Bertaut is the ‘also know as’ name, but in other cases it might be something different. Why are there ‘dit’ names? Which name do you record as the ‘true’ surname? It can be complicated, especially if one is used in one record, while the other is recorded in a different document. Though ‘dit’ names are used in France, most of them seem to be widely used in French Canada. If you’ve been tracing your ancestors in Québec, you, most likely, have come across “dit” names.

I highly recommend reading Denis Beauregard’s article explaining ‘dit’ names and spelling variations.
Click Here for the rest of the article

Now, the late Frank R. Binette, has also written an article explaining ‘dit’ names and how they originated, that conflicts with Denis Beauregard’s explanation. He states that ‘dit’ names are not alias, a.k.a. nor nickname.

The article is called:

“What in the World is a “dit” Name?”
by Frank R. Binette
(from “Lifelines Volume 11, Number 2, Whole Number 21,1994)

You can read it here

What is the correct explanation? Though, the historical explanations are invaluable, I believe (and this is just my belief) the common usage in French Canada aligns with Mr Beauregard’s, as an ‘also known as’ But you decide..