A while ago, I learned a valuable lesson after reading an email about a breakthrough in the research on the mysterious Melanson genealogy. I should not read emails on my tablet just before turning off the bedroom light. This email contained some exciting information that was essentially a breakthrough in the mysterious Melanson genealogy.
Once I read the following email informing me of a discovery made by Paul Delaney in 2012 of baptismal records for the children of Pierre and Priscilla Melanson, I lost all hope of sleeping. I was just too excited and my mind was racing.
The email reads:
Through some internet research on Melanson name I found your website, more specifically this page:
Just in case you were not aware, you might be interested to know that a few documents were found in London that relates to Pierre Melanson (father) and his family. Here’s a nice article in English (from the Facebook page of Michael B. Melanson) that talks about what was found.
Through his diligence and dedication, Paul Delaney has made some very exciting and important discoveries – including the baptismal records of brothers Pierre (Peter) and Charles Mellanson, ancestors of the Melanson/Melançon family.
In 2012, he published an article titled “Les Melanson en Angleterre” [“The Melansons in England”] with the results of his research. In the parish register of St. Martin in the Fields Church in London, he found four baptismal records for the children of Pierre and Priscilla:
Petrus [Peter] Meranson baptized August 15, 1637
Petrus [Peter] Meronzo baptized October 29, 1637
Katherina [Catherine] Meranzo baptized April 19, 1640
Caroly [Charles] Meranzon baptized December 14, 1642
These entries were recorded in Latin and did not include dates of birth. As the first two baptisms took place two and a half months apart, the first Peter could not have been an infant. It is possible his parents were new members of the congregation and had him baptized there as a toddler. Their marriage record was not found in the parish registers. As for the second Peter, this may have been John. Occasionally, a recording priest or minster would mistakenly inscribe the father’s name in place of the child’s – a simple clerical error. It’s also possible that the first Peter died shortly after baptism (as a toddler) and the next newborn child was given his name. No burial records for this family were found. However, clergymen tended to be less diligent in recording these events.
As these children were baptized with variations of the “Meranson” surname, it would not have been Priscilla’s maiden name, as once theorized. Also, Laverdure would appear to be an alternate or nickname for Mellanson and not the other way around. When Pierre Mellanson’s daughter Madeleine was baptized at Rivière-aux-Mines, Acadia, June 25, 1684, he was recorded as “Pierre Melanson, Sieur de la Verdure.” Laverdure may have been a title or designation once used in France.
Michael B. Melanson
Source: Paul Delaney, “Les Melanson en Angleterre,” Cahiers de la Société historique acadienne, vol. 43, no. 3 (September 2012), pp. 44-60.
So there is still more to discover about that family…
Martin Roy (descendant of Charles Melanson)
I am prone to anxiety attacks, but this was the first time I ever experienced an anxiety attack brought on by good news, and the only way to deal with it was to get up and try to see if I could find more information for this family using the misspellings in the baptismal records.
I didn’t find anything new, but I did find the transcribed baptism index records on ancestry.com and familysearch.org.
Records for Catherine Melanson
Records for Pierre Melanson
Records for Pierre Melanson
Records for Charles Melanson
I also checked out the Melanson Facebook page and I’ve placed a screenshot below.
Melanson Facebook Page Article
I was a little perplexed about why the misspellings were so similar throughout the years in London. Then I realized that it was most likely a result of different phonetic sounds for letters in French and English. When you hear ‘Melanson’ with a French accent, it could easily sound phonetically like ‘Meranzo’ to English ears.
I’ve always been in the habit of using soundex searches for unusual names or as a last resort when I’m not finding anything else. This is an example where the differences can be too great to be picked up via soundex.
Based on the information in the baptism records, the variations and misspellings of the surname due to speaking it with a French accent, I have come to new conclusions for the origins of this family.
I still do believe Pierre came from France, but that the Melanson surname belonged to him and not his wife Priscilla, whom he most likely met and married in England sometime prior to 1630. The ‘dit Laverdure’ suffix was probably a title or designation of some sort and I’ve provided a few possibilities in an earlier post.
The four Melanson children were subsequently baptized in London, England at St. Martin in the Fields parish church between 1630 and 1642.
Since there is no record of Catherine in Acadia, she most likely died prior to their immigration.
As surmised by Martin Roy in his email, I do believe the second Pierre baptised was most likely Jean. Although the reasons can vary, it has been quite common in the French culture to reuse the same first name for more than one child and for them to be differentiated by everyday use of their middle name. This is the case in both my mother’s Acadian ancestry and my father’s Quebecois ancestry.
This narrows my search for ever increasing online records in France to Pierre Melanson ‘dit Laverdure,’ increasing the chances of finding him in France (perhaps la Rochelle) sometime in the future.