Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday’s Tip: Beware the Same Name Trap

four piece puzzle

I know that in some families there are sometimes two living children with the same name. For example, my paternal ancestor Pierre Janvry dit Belair (born 1772) had an elder brother named Pierre Janvry dit Belair (born 1766). Both married twice, had large families, and lived long lives.

However, I didn’t expect to find four living siblings with the same or nearly-the-same-name in one family.

A few days ago, I was trying to sort out the children of my 7x great-grandparents Jacques Marcot and Isabelle Salé, who married in about 1670. They had fifteen children – 10 sons and 5 daughters.

Until now, I believed that their granddaughter Marguerite Marcot (my maternal ancestor) was the daughter of one of their sons and his wife née Morisset. But this was just an assumption on my part. It turns out I hadn’t sufficiently checked Marguerite's parents.

When I took a closer look at all those Marcot – Salé children, I realized that Jacques and Isabelle had four sons who had Jean or François in their names. They were:

  • Jean-Baptiste (1676-1731), who married Marie Paquin,
  • Jean-François (1691-after 1737), who married Geneviève Morisset,
  • Jean aka Jean-François (ca 1693-1760), who married Marie-Anne Morisset,and
  • François (ca 1693-1727), who married Marie Thérèse Desnoyers.

I was also surprised to learn that Jean-François (the one who married Geneviève Morisset) had a brother Jean aka Jean-François who also married a Morisset. (Geneviève and Marie-Anne were sisters.)

So I asked myself which one of these Marcot – Morisset couples were my ancestors?

After searching Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730, by René Jetté (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983), Tanguay’s Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, 7 vols (1871–1890, reprint, Montréal: Editions Elysée, 1991), and the database at PRDH (Programme de recherche en démographie historique), I discovered that I had confused Marguerite and her parents Jean-François and Geneviève with Marie Madeleine and her parents Jean aka Jean-François Marcot and Marie-Anne Morisset.

So after all these years, I wasn’t a descendant of Jean-François Marcot and Geneviève Morisset, I was a descendant of his brother Jean aka Jean-François Marcot and Marie-Anne Morisset.

My tip to you: beware the same name trap and check all the children in a family to make sure there aren’t multiple living siblings with the same or very similar first names.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. How I could relate to your discovery! In my extended family history, there were five men with the name John Bryning living in 1789. It all stemmed from a John Bryning having five sons and each son naming (as was the custom) his first born son after the grandfather - and so on down the next generation. It does get confusing!

  2. Goodness me, five men by the same name in the same time frame! Did you ever get them sorted out, Sue?


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