How the Jean MAJERUS Brick Wall Crumbled – The Keys and Doors Which Made It Happen!

Did you hear the brick wall come crashing down?

Finding an index to the church records for Luxembourg City helped add several generations to my 5th great-grandmother Margretha BREGER‘s branch of the family tree. I was so excited and motivated that I began looking for a way to find more information on her husband Jean MAJERUS whose parentage is was unknown.

Research Questions

Who were the parents of Jean MAJERUS born between 1765 and 1773 in Luxembourg or France? When and where was he actually born?

Keys: Known Facts

The following records were found for Jean MAJERUS and included some information which may help with the research questions.

Birth records of four children born in 17971, 17992, 18013, and 18064 included the father’s signature showing he was literate and could write. His occupation was listed as drapier or clothier on the first and as fileur de laine or wool weaver on the last three. His age was only found on one birth record, in 1806 age 33 years.

Census records from 18435, 18466, 18477, 18498, and 18519 included the place of birth for Jean. In 1843 he was 80 years old and born in Luxembourg. In 1846 he was 82 years old and born in Boulé. In 1847 he was 85 years old and born in Bouvigne, France. In 1849 he was 86 years old and born in Boulé, France. In 1851 he was 86 years and 6 months old and born in Felz (Fels or Larochette). In all of these, he was without an occupation which is not surprising considering his age.

Death record from 185210 shows he was 87 years old (born about 1765) and born in Felz (Fels or Larochette). He was the widower of Margaretha BRECKER. The information was given by a grandson who would have only known his grandfather’s birthplace by word of mouth.

Keys: Place of Birth

From the above records, Jean’s place of birth was seen as being either Boulé in France or Larochette (Felz or Fels) in Luxembourg. Boulé is not a place name in France. However, Boulay which is pronounced the same lies in the Moselle department in northeastern France. His age fell in the time range 1765-1773.

A Door: A Possible Match

Last year when I gathered the above records, I located a baptismal record for a child named Jean MAJERUS born in 1769 in Felz in the parish of Nommern.11

1769 Baptismal Record for Joannes son of Joannis Majerus and his wife Anna Catharina

On 21 April 1769 Joannes was baptized, the son of Jean MAJERUS, blacksmith, and his wife Anna Catharina, a couple living in Feltz. The godfather was Joannes HANSEN from Feltz and the godmother was Catharina GILLEN, the wife of Nicolai GILLEN of Scharftenhoft (sic, Scherfenhof). [rough translation]

This record fell within the date range. No marriage was found for this couple in Luxembourg. I consulted the family book of Nommern12 and found they were included in the book with only this child; no marriage date and no parents. This would suggest they may have only been living in the Feltz (as seen in the record, today Fels in German and Larochette in French) and the Nommern area at the time the child was born.

The residence of the godmother and her husband was spelled Scherferhof in the book which is in pdf form and easily searchable. I checked for other entries for the GILLEN couple and found the wife was listed as Maria Catherina MAJERUS when she was named godmother of a child in 1783 (page 283, family #896, child #5). There was no entry for them as a couple, only entries in which one or the other was a godparent.

The baptismal record of Joannes MAJERUS with godmother Maria Catherina MAJERUS, wife of Nicolas GILLEN, cannot be proven to be a record for my Jean MAJERUS as there is not enough information.

A Key: Was Boulé meant to be Boulay?

When the census was taken in 1846 and 1849, Jean MAJERUS and his wife were the only persons in the household. One of them must have given information about their ages and places of birth. It was on these two census sheets that Boulé was given as Jean’s birthplace. In 1849 it specified Boulé was in France. Searching for this town did not turn up any exact hits. I tried other spellings as é sounds the same as ait, ais, and ay and found Boulay-Moselle in the Moselle department in northeastern France, not far from Luxembourg.

A Door: Geneanet

I did a broad search for MAJERUS in Boulay on Geneanet, a genealogy site used mainly by European users to share their GEDCOM files. Four trees and a marriage record abstract were found.

Screenshot from Geneanet of the abstracted marriage information from a marriage record.

There is no farm called Schressenhoff in the parish of Medernach. Could this be Scherfenhof? All fours trees had this couple, Jean MAJERUS and Catherine ALBERT who married on 17 August 1767 in Boulay. Three of the trees included children, two sons, Jean born 2 June 1766 and Barthélémy born and died in 1772.

A Door: Archives Moselle

The above-abstracted information for the 1767 marriage of the MAJERUS-ALBERT couple would have to be confirmed by consulting the parish records of Boulay on the Archives Moselle site.

These are the general conditions for reuse of images of public information held by the Departmental Archives of the Moselle: The departmental council of the Moselle has not deliberated on the establishment of licenses in case of reuse of public information it publishes on the site As a result, the reuse of the digitized archival images disseminated by this site is free (sections L. 321-1 and L. 323-1 of the Code of relations between the public and the administration).

After reviewing the conditions for use of the images I did searches for the birth record of the child Jean and for the marriage record of the MAJERUS-ALBERT couple.

A Key: 1766 Birth/Baptismal Record

Jean was born on 2 June 1766 as the natural son of Catherine ALBERT. The record did not give the name of the father.13 In the margin of the church register, children were listed with their baptismal name and their father’s surname or in the case of illegitimate children, with their given name and the phrase a natural child of followed by the mother’s name.

1766 Baptismal Record of Jean, natural son of Catharine ALBERT. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57)

Could this illegitimate child be my 5th great-grandfather Jean MAJERUS? The time period and place of birth fit.

A Key: 1767 Marriage Record

Was Catherine ALBERT, the mother of little Jean, the same woman who married Jean MAJERUS on 17 August 1767 in Boulay as seen in the trees?

This is the marriage record14 I found:

1767 Marriage Record of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT (bottom of left page). Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57)
1767 Marriage Record of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT (top of right page). Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57)

It included the following information:

  • Date of marriage: 17 August 1767
  • Three banns were read in Boulay and one in Medernach
  • Groom: Jean MAJERUS, the underaged son of the deceased Jean MAJERUS and (his widow) Elisabeth AMBROS, farmers at Schrefsen Hof in the parish of Medernach
  • Bride: Anne Catherine ALBERT, the of age daughter of Jean ALBERT, cordonnier (shoemaker), and Louise BECK of the parish of Boulay
  • The dispense for the two banns in Medernach was allowed by Jean Philippe the Archbishop of Trier
  • Consent of Nicolas GILLEN, a farmer at Schreffenhoff and guardian of Jean MAJERUS
  • After the bride and groom were joined in marriage they declared having had Jean, the natural son of Catherine ALBERT, born 2 June 1766 and baptized the 3rd of the same month, before their marriage. The son was declared a legitimate child of the couple through this marriage.
  • Four witnesses were present, all relatives of the bride and from Boulay. Her father, a brother-in-law, and two maternal uncles. None of the groom’s family were present.
  • The bride declared she could not write and signed with her mark. The groom, witnesses, and priest signed.

The information found in the marriage record confirmed Jean, the natural son of Catherine ALBERT, was the son of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT and was legitimized with their marriage.

The years between 1766 and 1784

Following the birth of young Jean in 1766 and the marriage of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT in 1767, the couple appears to have moved to Larochette in Luxembourg before 1769. In Larochette (Feltz) they had a son Joannes in 1769 whose godmother was Catharina GILLEN, wife of Nicolas GILLEN, a farmer on Scherfenhof. This same Nicolas GILLEN had been the guardian of the father of the child in 1767 when he married. This would suggest a close family relationship between Jean MAJERUS and Catharina MAJERUS, wife of Nicolas GILLEN.

By 1772 Jean and Anne Catherine were back in her hometown as she gave birth to son Barthélémy on 25 February 1772. He died on 5 March 1772. His parents were living in Boulay at the time. His surname was spelled MACHERIUS.15

On 2 January 1784, Anne Catherine ALBERT died in Boulay. She was the widow of Jean MACHERI (sic, a variation of MAJERUS).16 This would mean her husband died between 1772 and 1784. I checked the death index for 1780-1790; he was not listed. For the years 1772-1780, there is no index and all records would need to be searched to find his death record – if he died in Boulay.

Have the research questions been answered?

Who were the parents of Jean MAJERUS born between 1765 and 1773 in Luxembourg or France? When and where was he actually born?

It is not known if Jean born in 1766 and Joannes born in 1769 were both living at the time of their mother’s death in 1784. They would have been 18 and 15 years old. As my Jean MAJERUS or his wife gave his place of birth on the census as being in Boulé (sic, Boulay), France, I have come to the conclusion he would have been the son born in 1766 in Boulay.

Jean born 2 June 1766 to a single mother, Anne Catherine ALBERT, was legitimized when his parents Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT married on 17 August 1767 when Jean became Jean MAJERUS. The grandparents of little Jean were named in his parents’ marriage record: Jean MAJERUS and Elisabeth AMBROS as well as Jean ALBERT and Louise BECK. The ALBERT and BECK lines now have placeholders for several generations with RED tags to indicate research needs to be done to prove these names.

Keys and doors made it happen but also a place called Scherfenhof

I am convinced finding Scherfenhof mentioned in the 1769 baptismal record in the Nommern parish and in the 1767 marriage record in Boulay, France, was not a coincidence. They must be connected.

Jean MAJERUS deceased before 1767 and Elisabeth AMBROS will not be as easy to research however their being a married couple from Scherfenhof is an important clue.

Scherfenhof, known as Schäerfenhaff in Luxembourgish, is today part of the commune of Heffingen and lies between Larochette (Fels) and Christnach off of C.R. 118. Location of Scherfenhof (see the middle of the map).

Thomas Webers who compiled the Nommern family book using the church and civil records for the period 1637-1923 appears to have recorded all families found in the registers during this period. He also compiled family books for Medernach, Larochette, and Heffingen – all towns in the immediate area of Scherfenhof. I searched all of them for Scherfenhof and for the family names MAJERUS and GILLEN.

I noted miscellaneous instances of Scherfenhof (with various spelling variations) being found in GEDCOM files of members of Luxracines.

Death and burial information were found for Nicholas GILLEN17 and Elisabeth AMBROSI (spelling as seen on the death entry).18 Both Nicholas and Elisabeth died on Scherfenhof in 1787.

By following the timeline of the entries found in the family books, the GEDCOMs, and miscellaneous records, a chronological history of Scherfenhof came to light and is in part supported by the 1766 census.19

A Peter MAJERUS was living on Scherfenhof as early as 1722. He was the father of Conrad MAJERUS who married twice in Echternach, in 174320 and 1745.21 Conrad’s not remaining on Scherfenhof could mean he was not the oldest child.

1766 Luxembourg Census for Scherfenhof

I believe Jean MAJERUS, husband of Elisabeth AMBROSI (also seen as DITGES in 1776) and father of the Jean MAJERUS who married in France, was likely the oldest child of Peter. As the oldest child he would have taken over the farm and homeplace and following his death, it would have gone to his oldest child. This would explain the presence of his widow and several children on the 1766 census listing above. Nicolas GILEN (sic, GILLEN) was the head of household in the 1766 listing for Scherfenhof. Also in the household were Peter MAJERUS, Elisabeth MAJERUS, Catherine GILEN, Angelique MAJERUS, Catherine SCHMITTEN, and Conrad FABER.

How are these people related? Anna Catharina MAJERUS was likely the oldest child of Jean MAJERUS and his wife Elisabeth AMBROSI (DITGES). She married Michel FABER before 1756 and they had a son Conrad FABER  born about 1756. Between 1756 and 1766 Michel FABER died and his widow married Nicholas GILLEN. They would have a son Michel GILLEN but only after the 1766 census. The firstborn son of Anna Catharina, Conrad FABER would take over Scherfenhof after the death of Nicholas GILLEN in 1787.

The other children of Jean and Elisabeth were Conrad, Jean, Peter, and Angelique. Conrad, possibly named after his uncle, had married in Waldbillig in 1765. He was listed as the of age son of Jean MAJERUS of Scherfenhof.22 Son Jean was likely living in Boulay, France, as his son was born there in 1766. Peter was the son of Jean MAJERUS and Elisabeth DITGES per his 1776 marriage record.23 Angelique was very likely a daughter of the same couple. No marriage has been found for her.

This rounds up the individuals I found who likely made up the family group of the deceased Jean MAJERUS and his wife Elisabeth AMBROSI (DITGES). No baptismal records were found in the Nommern parish for these children but there was the fragile connection to Scherfenhof as seen in their marriage records, the 1766 census, and baptisms where Nicholas GILLEN, manager of Scherfenhof, was the godfather of several of the grandchildren.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Luxembourg > Tables décennales 1863-1872, 1863-1872, 1873-1892 Naissances 1796-1800 > image 905 of 1504. 1797 Birth Record (9 Germinal year V). ( : accessed 13 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Luxembourg > Tables décennales 1863-1872, 1863-1872, 1873-1892 Naissances 1796-1800 > image 1200 of 1504. 1799 Birth Record, left, top (13 germinal an VII). ( : 5 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Luxembourg > Tables décennales 1863-1872, 1863-1872, 1873-1892 Naissances 1796-1800 > image 1473 of 1504. 1801 Birth Record, right, bottom (21 prairial an IX). ( : accessed 8 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 108 of 1464. 1806 Birth Record (lower left). ( : 17 July 2014),. 
  5. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bertrange > 1843 > image 309 of 407. Majerus-Breger household. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  6. Ibid., Bertrange > 1846 > image 324 of 431. Majerus-Breger household. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  7. Ibid., Bertrange > 1847 > image 198 of 448. Majerus-Breger household. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  8. Ibid., Bertrange > 1849 > image 388 of 474. Majerus-Breger household. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  9. Ibid., Strassen > 1851 > image 67 of 222. “Jean Majerus, his son Jean Baptiste Majerus, his daughter-in-law Catherine Cornely, their children Jacques, Baptiste, Pierre, Nicolas, Jean Pierre, Michel, and Marie.” Jean Majerus household No. 48. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  10. Luxembourg Civil Records, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 21 of 446. 1852 Death Record No. 20. ( : accessed 2 December 2015). 
  11. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Nommern > Baptêmes 1744-1787, confirmations 1750-1789, mariages 1751-1765, 1769-1787, sépultures 1752-1787 > image 45 of 170. 1769 Baptismal Record No. 324. ( : accessed 27 May 2019). 
  12. Thomas Webers, Familienbuch der Pfarrei und Gemeinde Nommern mit Cruchten 1637-1923, Luxracines a.s.b.l., 2015; page 415, family #1295. 
  13. Archives départementales de la Moselle (57), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online, Registres paroissiaux et d’état civil BOULAY, Document 9NUM/100ED/GG8 Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (1765-1772), Image RAD057_100EDGG8_0028.jpg, image 28 of 193. 1766 Baptismal Record (bottom left and top right).( : accessed 21 May 2019). Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. 
  14. Ibid., Registres paroissiaux et d’état civil BOULAY, Document 9NUM/100ED/GG8 Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (1765-1772), Image FRAD057_100EDGG8_0061.jpg, image 61 of 193. 1767 Marriage Record (left bottom, right page). ( : accessed 21 May 2019). 
  15. Ibid., Registres paroissiaux et d’état civil BOULAY, Document 9NUM/100ED/GG8 Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (1765-1772), Image: FRAD057_100EDGG8_0173.jpg, image 173 of 193. 1772 Birth Record (left page, top) and 1772 Death Record (right page, middle)
    ( : accessed 21 May 2019). 
  16. Ibid., Registres paroissiaux et d’état civil BOULAY, Document 9NUM/100ED/GG10 Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures (1780-1792), Image: FRAD057_100EDGG10_0108.jpg, image 108 of 307. Death Record No. 1. ( : accessed 21 May 2019). 
  17. Luxembourg Parish Records, Medernach > Baptêmes 1786-1797, mariages 1785-1797, sépultures 1786-1797 > image 51 of 56. 1787 Death Record. ( : accessed 22 May 2019). 
  18. Ibid., Medernach > Baptêmes 1786-1797, mariages 1785-1797, sépultures 1786-1797 > image 51 of 56. 1787 Death Record (right page, first entry).( : accessed 22 May 2019). 
  19. Luxembourg, Dénombrement, 1766 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles), Film #1781981, DGS #8182018 > Decanat de Mersch > Medernach > image 75 of 556 > household 49 > Nicolas Gilen. ( : accessed 30 May 2019). 
  20. Luxembourg Parish Records, Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 86 of 293. 1743 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 31 May 2019). 
  21. Ibid., Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 93 of 293. 1745 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 31 May 2019). 
  22. Ibid., Waldbillig > Baptêmes 1685-1797, mariages 1773-1779, 1785-1797, 1800-1804, sépultures 1779, 1785-1797 > image 160 of 201. 1765 Marriage Record (left page, 2nd entry for 1765). ( : accessed 31 May 2019). 
  23. Ibid., Ospern > Baptêmes 1730-1796, mariages 1737-1779 > image 280 of 286. 1776 Marriage Record (left page, bottom). ( : accessed 22 May 2019). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

19 thoughts on “How the Jean MAJERUS Brick Wall Crumbled – The Keys and Doors Which Made It Happen!”

  1. As always, excellent sleuthing brought about the destruction of another brick wall. I have to wonder, though, if Jean Majerus who married Catherine Albert was truly the father of your Jean or, if he fell in love with Catherine and declared that the child was his. Not that I’m doubting any of your work – I just wonder how many times that might have happened in history and would a descendant’s Y-DNA test today link back to other Majerus males or to a different surname? It’s a question that might not have any answer.


    1. Linda, I wondered the same thing as the marriage took place more than a year after the birth of little Jean. I’ve seen women who have had a natural child later marry where the child was not legitimized. I don’t think it was a disgrace at the time to have a natural child. I am going to mark Jean as I have several autosomal DNA matches with descendants of his son Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and his wife Catharina CORNELY – just in case his father was not Jean MAJERUS of Scherfenhof.
      Thank you, Linda.


  2. Scherfenhof was in parish Medernach before the ‘département des forêts’ . From then it belonged to the commune de Larochette/ Fels

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Linda. I checked Medernach but FamilySearch is only showing records from 1779 (marriages) and 1786 (baptisms) forward which is not helpful with these earlier Majerus children born before the 1766 census. I need to check the catalog to see if early Medernach parish records are mixed in with another town.


  3. Cathy, Those keys and doors make all the difference when you need to make your way through brick walls. You have been so fortunate to finding those keys!! Great detective work, Sherlock!!! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

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