#75 - VARIATIONS IN FRENCH FAMILY NAMES IN SOUTHWESTERN NOVA SCOTIA
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, June 12, 1990
It is surprising how the spelling of many French family names have changed in the course of years. It is mostly due to the fact that during that time many of those who bore those names were not educated and did not know how to spell their name. It followed that a same name might be spelled even to this day in different ways. Herewith are a certain number of examples that we find today in Southwestern Nova Scotia.
The family name AMIRAULT has been written many times in Nova Scotia up to this day and even in other parts of Canada and in the United States as AMIRO. We find it written also, mostly in Massachusetts, as AMERO. In the province of Quebec, the form MIRAULT is often used. These forms are all erroneous.
Jean-Francois d'AUTEUIL, born in France around 1786, arrived in Yarmouth county in 1818, where he married the following year Luce Mius, daughter of Charles-Amand and of Marie-Joseph Mius. They settled in Digby county. Their youngest son, Célestin, who settled in Digby Neck, perpetuated the name under the form of DOTY.
Jean-Baptiste AYERS arrived from France between 1815 and 1820 and settled in Saulnierville. His only son, Adolphe, moved to Plymouth, Yarmouth county. Jacques, Adolphe's son, settled in Little River Harbour. This family now goes by the name of HARRIS, which form has been adopted first, it seems, by Adolphe.
The name BABIN, which is its correct spelling and which is universally used thus by the Acadians of Southwestern Nova Scotia, is found at times in other places written BABINE or BURBINE, both of which are erroneous. Note that this French family name, written BABIN, is also a Jewish family name, written in this very same form.
Michel Boudrot, the first of the name in Acadia, spelled thus his name. The form BOUDREAU is universally made use of also, not only in Nova Scotia, but also in the rest of Canada, in the U.S. and even in France.
Jean BOUTIER, born around 1771 in St. Malo, France, came to Yarmouth county at the very beginning of the 19th century and settled at Muise's Point (La-Pointe-des-Ben), where he was known as "Quéto." This form of the name has entirely disappeared in our midst and has been substituted by the name BOUCHER.
Paul CLERMONT, who was exiled in Massachusetts, came back with his family to Yarmouth county after the Expulsion. Francois CLERMONT, dit "Sauge," who was murdered by the privateers on Wilson Island, as I have said in sketch No. 18, was his son. This family name in this form has almost completely disappeared to be substituted by the name CLEMENTS.
The name d'Entremont is found written at times as D'ENTREMONT or even De ENTREMONT, both forms being erroneous. The particle "d" or "de", which used to designate an origin of nobility, is always written with a small "d," which used to refer to the place from which originated the bearer of the name, such that the initial of this family name is "E", not "D," just as the initial of the name d'AUTEUIL is "A." These names should always be classified, in an alphebetical order, under the letter "A" or under the letter "E", as "AUTEL, d'," "ENTREMONT, d'."
DOUCET is the original spelling of this word. In Yarmouth county it is written Doucette, because originally, and even now in some places, DOUCET is pronounced "Doucette." What is given as SURETTE was written originally SURET, pronounced since always "Surette." But in this case the orthograph SURETTE has been adopted everywhere. We have other family names ending in 'et' which is pronounced "ette"; for example, PAQUET, as it is written most of the time in the Province of Quebec and where it is pronounced "Paquette," is found now and then written PAQUETTE.
In the church registers we find DULAIN and DULIN as being the family name of those who now have adopted in Yarmouth county the form DULONG as their name.
The family name DUON has been changed in Pubnico to that of d'EON. We find d' EON instead of DUON for the first time in 1830, in the last will of Paul DUON, son of Abel, the first of the name who came back to Pubnico from exile. It could come from the fact that in English documents we often find the name written, even before that time, "De Young." Placide Gaudet tells us that he met in Pubnico an old captain who told him that he had gone to France (?) where he was told that the name should be d'EON, instead of DUON. In Louisiana, it is written DUHON, although the proper form is DUON. The last time that we find the form DUON in our church registers is in 1899.
The original spelling of FRONTAIN is still made use of in Southwestern Nova Scotia, although we find also FRAUGHTON, FRAUTON, FRONTEIN, FROTTEN. Even though FRONTAIN is the form given in the church registers to Julien, who came back from exile and is the ancestor of that family in Southwestern Nova Scotia, his name is spelled FORTIN in the Massachusetts archives at the time of the Expulsion. He could have been a descendant ot Jean FORTON, whose name we find in the Port Royal church registers before the Expulsion.
GUIDRY is a verty old Acadian name. It has taken many different forms since it was introduced in Acadia. In Digby county it is now written usually GEDDRY or JEDDRY. Elsewhere we find also GIDRY, GUEDRY and GUITRY.
There is to be found in Nova Scotia, even in Yarmouth county, the family name GEHUE. One would never guess that it comes from an Acadian name which was written GUILBEAULT when it is found for the first time in 1671. In the course of time, it has taken namy different forms, apart from GEHUE, as GILLOT, GIOT, GUILBAUT, GUILBEAULT, GUILLAUT, GUILLEAU, GUILLEBAUT, GUILLEBEAU.
Members of the family LE FEBVRE or LE FEVRE or LEFEVRE, which was introduced in Yarmouth county by Louis LEFEVRE around 1818, who had been a soldier in Napoleon's army (see sketch No. 37) always write their name today as LE FAVE.
The family name MIUS was introduced in Acadia in 1651 by Philippe MIUS d'ENTREMONT. It is now written in Southwestern Nova Scotia mostly as MUISE, sometimes MEUSE. In the province of Quebec, especially in the Gaspe region, it is written MIOUSSE. This word of four letters, I have found written in 25 different ways. MIUS is a German name derived from the word MAIUS or MAJUS, meaning "greater," just as in latin. As "ai" in German is pronounced "i," MAIUS became MIUS. Nicolas MIUS of Switzerland, although of German origin (1547) could have been the grandfather of Philippe MIUS d'ENTREMONT, whose father (whose name we do not have), would have been adopted by Jacqueline d'ENTREMONT, of Savoie, France, who would have added her name d'ENTREMONT to his name MIUS. Philippe MIUS d'ENTREMONT was born in Normandy, where members of the MIUS family are still to be found near the coast, between Fécamp and St. Veléry, southwest of Dieppe.
POTHIER, which is the original spelling of the word, is given by the people of Belleville as POTTIER.
ROBICHAUD, THERIAULT and THIBEAULT are written also with "eau" as their last letters. We find also in old documents these letters repalaced by "o."
What is given here applies only to Acadian names that we find in Southwestern Nova Scotia. There is as much variations in other Acadian names found elsewhere.
Note: This column was to appear in The Vanguard on Tuesday, June 5.