Notaries in colonial Louisiana made their records intentionally hard to read! They wrote for the small group of people in the colony who could read French, and they often used shorthand, abbreviations, and codes of their own invention. If you are new to paleography, these tips and resources might come in handy.
For an example of a complete and verified transcription and translation of a French record on From the Page, click HERE to see a 1728 record where Melun is accused of stealing bacon.
For step-by-step instructions on using From the Page and getting started transcribing French records, click HERE to see a PowerPoint tutorial.
Common words and phrases:
supplie humblement X: X humbly addresses his/her petition
et ferez justice: and thus justice will be done
partyes ouyes: having heard the parties
avec dépens: with the costs
ou il a esleu son domicille: where he is dwelling
habitant: settled in, dweller, settler
cy devant: heretofore, former
donner assignation: give writ of the summons
soussigné, signifié et baillé copie: undersigned, notified and delivered copy
ès mains/dans les mains de: in the hands of
permis d’assigner: license to assign
jour prefix: appointed date
procureur aux biens vacants: procurator of vacant estates
comme fondé de procuration de X: in his capacity as attorney for X
ce considéré: now that you know this
en la Chambre: in Court
les fins de la requête: the aims of the request
dont acte: duly noted
The following words are often found abbreviated:
dudit, de ladite, etc.
Texts are nearly unpuctuated: restitution of punctuation in the translation
No separation between some words (quil, lhabitation, etc): restitution in the transcription (qu’il, l’habitation, etc)
Accents and hyphons rarely written in French: no restitution, except for the names (e.g. Nouvelle-‐Orléans) Word missing or illegible: (( ))
A portion of text missing or illegible: ((…))
Some texts are very similar to each other, in particular the judicial records (judgments and court decisions), probably written by the clerk, and the returns on Council of notice to the parties written by the court-bailiff, which often show the same phrases.