The Mystery of Louise Tourville’s Birthdate (née Corriveau) (~1800-1875)

Cousin Denise was searching in vain for the baptismal record of Louise Corriveau (“our” Louise—as we will call her here for ease of reference—was married to her ancestor François Tourville/Courville), when she contacted me and correctly pointed out that one of our Louise’s sisters was called… Marie-Louise. I thought what an interesting puzzle that is!

Our Louise (birthdate unknown) was married to François Tourville on April 14, 1828, in Saint-Hughes, Quebec. She was the daughter of Louis Corriveau (then deceased) and Marie-Louise Morisset who were themselves married on August 29, 1796, in Saint-Henri-de-Lauzon, Quebec. It was Louis’ second marriage as he was previously married to Marthe Gosselin, on July 22, 1794, in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, Quebec.

Unfortunately, Marthe died shortly after the birth of their only child, Louis, born on April 11, 1795, and who survived to adulthood.

Louis and Marie-Louise first lived in Saint-Henri-de-Lauzon, where their first four children were baptized. Their six remaining children were baptized in Saint-Hyacinthe where Louis Corriveau died on January 5, 1810, leaving Marie-Louise with eight surviving children—the death in infancy of two children before their father passed away and the birth of a posthumous child will bring this number to nine children.

In such a case where a father of young children dies, the existence (or not) of a guardianship record should be ascertained—which record I opportunely did find. Not only does it provide us with the surviving children’s names but also with the age of both our Louise and of her sister Marie-Louise (baptized as Marie-Josephte), deceased at the age of 20 in 1828.

I quickly discovered that this document contained some conflicting information, as it was obvious it has been written well before the date of July 19, 1810. As a matter of fact, a few details led me to believe that it was drafted soon after Louis’ death, most likely in January 1810.

“… [Marie-Louise Morisette] has nine children from her marriage to the said Louis Corriveau, deceased, her husband, viz. Nicolas, 13, Louis, 12, Louise, 9, Angélique, 8, Joseph, 6, Marguerite, 3, Marie, 2, and Amable, 11 months, and that she is six month-pregnant…” [translated from French].

Amable, born in February 1809, was actually 11 months old in January 1810, and Jean-Baptiste, the posthumous child, born in early June 1810, is not cited, but the notary crossed out the mention that Marie-Louise was pregnant. Has he simply forgotten to add the child’s name?

That being said, the children’s ages are accurate, plus or minus one year. Let’s take a look at this table, summarizing the data I have on all the children.

Name on Baptismal RecordBirthdate (Baptismal Date)Age Indicated on Guardianship Record Dated 
July 19, 1810Notes
NicolasJul. 1, 1797 (Jul. 2, 1797)13Married Brigitte Lacroix on February 18, 1828. Died on July 16, 1881 in Ste-Sophie d'Halifax, Quebec, age "92 years" (he was 84 years old).
LouisOct. 22, 1798 (Oct. 23, 1798)12 (was actually 11)No other information was found about Louis after the guardianship record.
LouiseUnknown9Married to François Tourville on April 14, 1828, in Ste-Hughes, she was "of age", she died on October 31, 1875 in Sutton, Massachusetts, age 75 years and 7 months.
LouisAug. 5, 1800 (Aug. 5, 1800)If alive, he would have been 9No trace of Louis in the guardianship record.
Angèle (Angélique on guardianship record)Feb.13, 1802 (Feb. 14, 1802)8She never married. She died on February 16, 1884 in Ste-Hyacinthe, age 82 years old.
MarieAug. 16, 1803 (Aug. 16, 1803)N/ADied on June 4, 1804 in St-Hyacinthe.
JosephSep. 22, 1804 (Sep. 22, 1804)6 (he was actually 5)No trace of him after the guardianship record.
MargueriteApr. 26, 1806 (Apr. 27, 1806)3 (she was actually 4)She was married to Pierre Drouin in 1831, to Pierre Daniel in 1843, and Antoine Dion in 1855. Died on September 25, 1863 in St-Hyacinthe at age "70" years old (she was actually 57).
Marie-Josephte (Marie on guardianship record)Sep.16, 1807 (Sep. 17, 1807)2Died on February 8, 1828, at age 20, under the name of Marie-Louise, married to Jean-Baptiste Faucher. The marriage took place in St-Hyacinthe on July 31, 1827.
François Amable (Amable on guardianship record)Feb. 5, 1809 (Feb. 5, 1809)11 months (he was actually 17 months)Married Marguerite Leclerc in 1829 in St-Hyacinthe. Died on March 13, 1892, in Ste-Hyacinthe age 84 (he was actually 83).
Jean-BaptisteJun. 3, 1810 (Jun. 3, 1810)Not mentioned on the guardianship record even if he died 3 months laterPosthumous birth. Died September 25, 1810, age 3 months, in St-Hyacinthe

When reviewing the information gathered in the above table, I must admit that the first thing that came to my mind was that our Louise’s age would correspond exactly to the age that Louis, born in 1800, would have had. But my theory was short-lived—no twins in the baptismal register. And except for the fact that he is not mentioned in the guardianship record, there is no proof that this Louis died before his father.

I also noticed that two sons both named Louis were baptized two years apart. The first Louis was born in 1798, and the second one, in 1800. You will tell me, that happened so often, nothing to write home about. You are absolutely right. One child dies and, first thing we know, the next one bears the same first name. But what bothers me here is that it is the first Louis who is referred to in the guardianship record. Who would give a child his elder brother’s very first name while the latter is still alive?

Our Louise would have been born about two years after Louis (born in October 1798) and about one year before Angèle (born in February 1802). In view of the information contained in the guardianship record, our Louise could not have been born between the two Louis. Her birth would have had to take place around March or April 1801, considering Angèle’s birth in February 1802. I know that female infertility while breast feeding is not an exact science, but it seems to me that this opportunity window is a bit limited.

According to her death record dated October 31, 1875, our Louise was 75 years and 7 months old when she passed away—which would again set her birthdate in February 1800. This information might be inaccurate, that would not be the first time.

Then I came up with some different assumptions while drafting the above table. And what if the year 1800 was accurate but not the month? What if the priest made a mistake? What if the child’s name and gender were wrong? What if Louis, born in 1800, was in fact our Louise?

The only other hint about her age comes from the Canadian census of 1851 (taken in 1852) pursuant to which, her age is 52. In the US census of 1860 for Grafton, Massachusetts, she is 62 years old. When looking at the PRDH, I noticed that they have identified our Louise as being Angèle, born in 1802, which was quite possible—until I happened upon the burial record of Angèle who died in 1884 and that both of them are listed in the guardianship act. All sisters are accounted for, meaning our Louise could possibly be “Louis”, born in 1800.

Maybe my eyes are seeing what they want to see, but don’t you think that it seems like an “e” was added at the end of Louis’ first name on the baptismal record?

As mentioned before, Louis, born in 1798, and Joseph, born in 1804, are nowhere to be found after the guardianship record. They were not cited in their siblings’ marriage contracts nor church records, they were not godfathers to their nephews nor nieces. I strongly believe that these two men emigrated to the United States. I found the trace of one Louis Corriveau, who lived for a while in Burlington, Vermont. PRDH identifies him as being the brother of one Charles Corriveau, first cousin of our siblings. These two men appear to have married two sisters Giasson. In fact, I wonder if that Louis could be Charles’ first cousin instead. When Louis has his daughter Marguerite baptized in Saint-Jude in 1826 at age 13 months, the godmother was Marie-Louise Morriset—aunt or mother? This parallel investigation is still in progress.

Dear fellow genealogists, feel free to share your views about all this! Are three births so close to one another make sense for that period?

Well, cousin Denise, maybe are you wondering how this birthdate issue will be addressed in the Hubou-Tourville tree?

For now, I had to settle with “about February 1800” which is the date calculated from her death record. I have added a note indicating that this date was inaccurate considering Louis’ baptismal record dated August 5, 1800. Later on, I will include a link to this post. What do you think? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this, cousin Denise!

13 thoughts on “The Mystery of Louise Tourville’s Birthdate (née Corriveau) (~1800-1875)

  1. This is some interesting stuff here Diane!
    I am actually looking at another copy of the birth record of Louis and in this case the name is spelled “Louis”, which I will send to you via email. But I think you have made reasonable assumptions based on the guardianship record.
    However, I do have more issues. I have a record of Marie-Louise Corriveau married to Jean Baptiste Faucher Jul 31, 1826 in St-Hyacinthe, and dying in Feb 7,1828, the same year that M-Louise married Francois Tourville in St-Hughes (Marriage record Apr 14, 1828)! The marriage records lists her parents as – you guessed it – Louis Corriveau (deceased) and Louise Mauricette. Am I looking at another family here? This is also part of my confusion. Which Marie-Louise are we talking about here – are there two in the same family – did the priest mix up the names?? Can you explain this problem I am having with my poor gggrandmother??
    I have never found a death record for Francois Tourville/Courville. I think perhaps he died in Massachusetts but have not yet located anything that could be him.
    Anyways, look for the records I will send you in an email since I do not see a way to attache them here.
    Regards, Denise

    • Hi Denise,

      Hope this will help you!

      Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. They are two copies of the church records, the first one is the original, the priest records. These records are on Family Search. The second one is a copy the priest was sending to the civil authorities (these are the ones on Ancestry). I always go for the original church record when it is available. The civil copy may not include the signatures or even some have little differences (some priests were lazy :). That is why I noticed the “e” that seemed to be have been added at the end of “Louis” and that you don’t see on your copy. I have no idea if my theory is good or not, it’s just the fact that the age of Louise on the guardianship record is 9 years old (the age that the mysterious Louis would have had at that time) made me think of that. I am raising the question.

      About the other one: Marie-Louise. She was baptized Marie-Josephte and was “Marie” on the guardianship record. Why do one sister ended up being called Marie-Louise and the other one Louise (our Louise), I have no idea. It is certainly not the first time in Quebec church records that a child is baptized under a name and uses another one later on in life.

      One thing is for sure: they both existed and they were real sisters. I have the marriage contract of François and Louise, and her parents are Louis Corriveau and Marie-Louise Morriset. Her mother is present at the notary. For Marie-Louise, Amable Corriveau is a witness at her marriage (identified in the marriage record as her brother), so I have no doubt about this.

      A second thing is for sure: we will never know our Louise birthdate, but we now have a pretty good idea where she stands in the family thanks to that guardianship record! 🙂

      Do not hesitate to comment, thank you, Denise!

      • Ah Yes, I DID know that there were two copies of the church records and suspected you might have been looking at one set, and me another, but I did not know that Family Search had a different copy from ancestry so that is very god to know! Yes I also have the marriage contract for both sisters but was confused because both Tourville and Faucher records referred to a Louise. Your analysis makes a lot of sense and so I will take that as the definitive answer, thanks for helping to clear up my confusion.
        ANd I can attest to baptismal names not being to the name they went by in life. Someone (you? my aunt? told me that the godparents named the child but could sometimes use the name they wanted not necessarily then name the parents had chosen. My grandfather was Willie Morin but his baptismal certificate was Joseph Alfred!, discovered when he married and was astonished to find that on his record. He continued to go by Willie all his life. And his death certificate was Wellie! and this was in 1976 no less. So there you have it.
        thanks so much for all this, it has been very interesting.
        Denise

  2. Rob Gumlaw also pointed out to me on Twitter that the baptismal record still refers to a boy and not a girl even if an “e” seems to have been added at the end of the first name “Louis”. I have noticed that as well, but I have no idea, as I mentioned in the comment above, if this theory of mine is good or not, but I couldn’t help mentioning it.

    I am also thinking about the names of Louise and Marie-Louise. Could that be that Louise was named her father, and Marie-Louise after her mother? Anyways, there are too many Louis and Louises in that story! 🙂

  3. OK so I looked again at Louise’s death record and am wondering if we can somehow find the actual death certificate instead of the record submitted into the register for Sutton MA. I am wondering if the transcriber missed the “2” and wrote “7” instead. Since she died on October 31, 1875 that would put her age at 75, 2 months, 26 days (and no day is included in the death entry)
    Thoughts?

    • Informants on death records are not that reliable, I am afraid. For such an early year, we don’t even know who reported her death, there are registers, no individual death certificates (or maybe I am wrong). I have abandoned the idea of having her real birthdate, I am happy though to know where she stands among her siblings. That being said, you have an excellent point here. We would have to check the town record itself in Sutton. Who knows? The transcription might be wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time. 🙂

      Thnank you, Denise!

  4. Welcome back, Diane. The problem you’ve set about solving is similar to those I see in my Luxembourg research. When you brought the reader’s attention to the squiggle at the end of the name Louis in the baptismal record, I immediately wondered (I had not yet looked at the language used in the record) if the record was in Latin and the variations of the endings of the words would show the child had been a female. As it is in French I quickly checked the “né” to see if a squiggle had been added there. This would have been a quick solution to your problem. I think the way you settled the matter is the right way. If this were one of my ancestors (as opposed to a collateral connection) I would have a hard time keeping myself from using the date of “Louis'” record. Don’t we always want everything to be perfect?

    • Thank you, Cathy 🙂

      Yes indeed, we would love so much to have everything perfect. As I mentioned to Denise, I am so glad we have established her place among her siblings. This was a tough one for my comeback, ha! ha! Poor Denise has been waiting for more than a year for this post to be written and posted.

  5. Hi, interesting comment on using the “Louis” date! Since it IS a direct ancestor for me that is exactly my reaction!!
    Denise Courville Sachse

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