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Article PublishedFebruary 1, 1999

My Greatest Genealogical Mistake - Part II
By Xenia Stanford

In Part I, I explained how I found Marie was the fifth daughter of Joseph Stanford and Adelaide Marticotte as listed on the 1851 St. Roch Ward, Quebec City census record. The mother and the other children on this and the 1861 census were all listed as Roman Catholics while the father and Marie were listed as Protestant.

This issue will answer the burning question: Why Was Marie the Only Protestant Child?

Unfortunately, I did not find Marie on the 1861 census. Therefore, I do not know if she was listed as Protestant, Baptist or R.C. that year. She was married by then as I found a marriage entry in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) for an Elise Stanfold and a Charles Chamberland in 1860 in Quebec City. Suspecting this was a typo in the surname, I obtained the microfilm of Quebec City's St. Roch Church records and confirmed that, indeed, this was Marie Elise, daughter of Joseph Stanford and Adelaide Marticotte.

Also, I found a record in the parish register for Notre Dame Church in Montreal for Mary Eliza, baptized September 6, 1843 born on the sixth of the previous May. She was listed as "of the legitimate marriage of Joseph Stanford, carpenter, absent, and Adelaide Marticotte, of this parish". The godfather was Germain Michon and the godmother Justine Zaïde Talon dite Lesperance.

Therefore, she was baptized Catholic and married in a Catholic church. So why was she listed as a Protestant?

The answer eluded me while I continued to try to find all the birth, marriage and death records for the family. In searching the Catholic records, I found no evidence of a burial for Joseph Sr.

Obtaining the listing of any Stanfords buried in Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Catholic cemetery in Montreal from the very friendly staff there, I found the couple's daughter Josephine (née Stanford) buried along with her husband William Talon dit L'Esperance. In this same family plot listed under William's name, I found an Adelaide Massicotte whom I believe was Adelaide Stanford née Marticotte.

Not finding Adelaide's husband there, I asked at the Mount Royal Cemetery nearby, if they had any listing for a Joseph Stanford. Fortunately they did have one who was buried April 1, 1881 but there were no other family members of that name. (See notes at end regarding contacting the cemeteries in Montreal.)

They could not tell me the date of death from their records. So intent on determining the exact day, I decided to consult the Index to Non-Catholic Births, Marriages and Deaths for Montreal from 1766 to 1899 (FHL films 1684034/5). On the second film, I found the entry for STANFORD and discovered two by that surname. One entry was for Joseph whose burial service was held on March 13, 1881 in the Grace Anglican Church of Montreal and the second was for an Eliza Mary Stanford christened in Anglican Christ Church, Montreal, on September 6, 1843.

Now this was a strange coincidence since this was the same date Mary Eliza had been baptized in Notre Dame of Montreal, a Catholic Church! After the record on the microfilm (FHL film 1430782) for Anglican Christ Church had been brought in from Salt Lake, I was surprised to read in English the following:
    Eliza Mary, daughter of Josh (with h raised) Stanford, of Montreal, Ship Carpenter, and of Jane Crooks, his wife, was born on the sixth day of May, One thousand, Eight hundred, and forty three, and was baptized on the sixth day of September following by me J. Fialloon. Sponsors: John Sadler, Adelaide Marticotte; Parents: Josh (same raised h), Adelaide Stanford. (N.B. Punctuation and capitalization as found on the record.)
This appears to be the same Mary Eliza born the same day and baptized the same day in a Catholic Church in the same city. The father appears to be the same Joseph Stanford as carpenter, ship carpenter, ship architect or shipwright are all variations of his profession shown on records of baptisms and marriages of his children.

How can this child be at once the daughter of the legitimate marriage of Joseph and Adelaide and the daughter of Joseph and his wife Jane Crooks? The only explanation seems to be that Jane Crooks was the his mistress and it appears from this record that Adelaide Stanford née Marticotte was the godmother and "adoptive" mother of the illegitimate daughter of her husband.

Did Joseph even know Adelaide had this child baptized in the Catholic Church? As shown on the Notre Dame Church record, the father was absent but Adelaide being devout and caring enough to ensure this child had every possible chance to escape limbo by having a proper Catholic baptism. From the census and later marriage record of Marie Elise, it certainly seems she raised this child as her own. If the mislaid census entry was for Joseph and his mistress, Adelaide's virtue did not prevent further illicit liaison. She must have forgiven him or have seen no other option so stayed with him, as they did have at least six more apparently legitimate children.

However, does one really know who is legitimate or not? So Clare, second child or fifth, the lesson to be learned from this is we should take nothing for granted. Even if we have the parents' marriage record and the baptism record of the child which shows these as his or her legitimate parents, we cannot rest assured by our diligent research. After all, the only mistakes we know are those things we discover we had wrong. What about those still lying in wait to be uncovered?

To help reveal these we must be ever alert to oddities in records, such as one child being not of the same religion. Also carefully record every entry with the head of household's same name, especially if it is an English one in Quebec and check and double check for all and any records that could pertain to the family are other words from the now wiser columnist.

After all, "experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes" (Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, Act III).


I contacted the cemeteries by phone (long distance) and by visiting in person. Since then the Internet has made access more affordable though I have not necessarily found it to be faster than phone or easier than in person.

Mount Royal Cemetery for Non-Catholics has a search engine where you can enter the name of the person, a death date or year and any relatives also buried there, for a fee. The form is then submitted by email. Some others have told me the reply was fairly quick so my test questions to them may be the exception as I consider several weeks to be a long time. My phone call resulted in a next day fax of the information.

To use the search engine, go to the Mount Royal Cemetery home page and click on "Search" on the left hand side of the page. Their phone, street and email addresses can also be found on the home page .

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