Nova Scotia Archives

An Acadian Parish Remembered

The Registers of St. Jean-Baptiste, Annapolis Royal, 1702-1755


Interpreting the Registers

The missionary priests who ministered to the Parish of St. Jean-Baptiste over the five decades captured by these registers were reasonably careful record-keepers, but their penmanship leaves much to be desired! The antiquated and obsolete French which was their language of record presents a challenge for modern-day researchers and genealogists, mostly due to the style of the script. As well, some of the writing has faded over time and ink bleed-through has occurred on many pages. These are all hindrances to reading and interpreting content.

In working with the original registers to construct this database, frequent discrepancies were found in the spellings of names. So unstable were spelling standards during the eighteenth century that within any given entry there may be two or more different variations of the same surname, most notably between the information recorded by the priest and the signatures provided by the witnesses (if they were able to sign — and sometimes even if the priest signed for them). Surnames such as Beliveau (Bellivaux, Bellevaux, Bellivo, etc.), Mius (Muis, Muise, Myus, Muse, etc.) and Amiraut (Amirault, Amiro, Amiraux, Amireau, etc.) are typical examples.

Entries for First Nations people appear intermittently through the registers, predominantly in the earlier years and again with many spelling variations for the modern word 'Mi'kmaq'. Since the form most commonly used by the priests who recorded the information was 'Mikmak', this latter spelling has been chosen for consistency within the database.