A Note on Names
in old French and Spanish Documents
in Louisiana and Arkansas

In various documents that I have come across in my research, there were explanations about the transcriptions of names. In many cases, French given names were recorded during the Spanish period with the Spanish equivalent: Pierre/Pedro, Marie/Maria, Louis/Luis, Marguerite, Margarita, etc. So in many of the baptismal records, marriage records and burials, as well as in the censuses, the names might be one or the other. I have used the French equivalents for the names in the Jardelat family because they were of French origin even though their names appeared in many or most documents in their Spanish equivalent.

In addition, it was not uncommon for a person to be known by more than one name, called a "dit" name. This seems to be the case in New France more so than anywhere else. In some documents there will be a surname followed by dit followed by another surname, such as Imbau dit LaJeunesse or Saunier dit Languedoc. So a person, such as Marie Languedoc, might also be known as Marie Saunier, Sonnier, Soignez, Songe or Songy. So in the marriage record for Marie and Pierre Jardelat, when her surname is given as Sogny, she could have also gone by Languedoc which she did in later recordings of baptisms. Her mother's name appears to have been Songy/Sogny and her father's, Languedoc

Names were spelled by the person, usually a priest, who recorded a baptism, marriage, burial, etc. according to how it sounded and how they thought it should be spelled. If it was a Spanish speaker recording a French baptism or other event, he might think of the name as being spelled the way he would spell it according to Spanish pronunciations. When the English and Americans recorded names, they gave it another twist. This gives us the many different spellings of Jardelat: Jardelas, Jerdeles, Jardela, Jardella, Gerdella, Jordella, and so on. Languedoc became Langdoc; le Vasseur became Vasseur or Levasseur; and Reines became Reynes. Guerique or Querlique could possibly be Garic or Garrigues as these names appear in other French records.

In the introductions to many of the documents, it was noted that the transcribers and translators made no attempt to correct names, but copied what they saw. In some cases, because of the poor quality of the records and/or the handwriting itself, some names appear differently in various records. In one record where Marie Languedoc is recorded as Marie Lanode, it might be because the recorder put down Langdoc and the handwriting looks like Lanode. Graupera is often written as Granpera or Granpere. If you look at the documents carefully, it can be seen that the "n" is actually a "u" and the spelling should be Graupera. Pablo Graupera came from a part of Spain, near Barcelona, where the name Graupera is very common. That they were able to transcribe as much as they did was amazing and a huge benefit to researchers.

Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created 2002
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This page created 30 April 2009
updated 12 April 2015