Nicolas FOURNEL (1683-abt.1748) and Barbe AGARANT (abt.1678-1758)

To add more depth to the lives of our ancestors and their families it’s helpful to collect all documents created during their lifetimes. For the French/Luxembourgish families I’m presently working on, the research was made easier by consulting the family books of the towns they lived in. These books are compiled by researchers using church and civil records for birth/baptism, marriage, and death/burial for all families who lived in the town of interest. Some compilers go beyond the simple dates and place information found in BMD records.

Aimé Tarnus, who compiled Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, the family book on the town Nicolas FOURNEL lived in during his adult life, wrote a very interesting introduction explaining the records he used for the book during more than 13 years of research.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, Hussigny is lacking church records for the years between 1716-1765 with only 1753-1756 and 1758 being available. To get around the lack of records for the town, Aimé Tarnus consulted records of the Archives Départementales de Moselle, the Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle, the National Library in Paris, and the Luxembourg National Archives. A good part of the work in the departmental archives, other than the church and civil records, was done using the judicial archives and the notary deeds.

Nicolas FOURNEL (1783-~1748), my 6th great-granduncle, was the oldest known son of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702).

1683 Baptismal Record. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 28 de 529

His sister Françoise was five years old when Nicolas was born and baptized in Saulnes on 30 September 1683. His godparents were Nicolas BOUILLON and Margueritte EVRARD, wife Bernard COURTOIS.1 The baptismal record was missing information and this had to be deducted from the known factors. Jean and Catherine’s naming their first son Nicolas could be a clue to his paternal grandfather’s identity, assumed to be the Nicolas FOURNELLE who died abt. 1675/6 in Saulnes.2

Nicolas and his older sister Françoise had seven or eight more siblings: Jean, Henri, Jeanne, Sébastienne, Marie, Jacques, and possibly Marie Catherine. At this time, I have not been able to prove or disprove Marie and Marie Catherine were one and the same person.

Nicolas lost his mother at the age of 18 when Catherine SETON died on 21 September 1702 in Saulnes.3

At the age of 24, he was chosen to be the godfather of Marie, daughter of Jean DROUET and Jeanne REMY, when she was baptized on 3 October 1707 in Saulnes.4

Nicolas’ older sister Françoise (1678-1729) married Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745) on 23 January 1708.5

Two years later Nicolas married Barbe AGARANT (1678-1758) in Réhon on 29 June 1710. Nicolas was 26 years old and Barbe was about 32 years old. He was described as un jeune garçon de Sosne, paroissien de Herserange or young boy of Saulnes, a parishioner of Herserange. His surname was spelled FOURNIER. Barbe was the widow of Jean BERNARDIN. The entry in the Réhon parish record does not name Nicolas’ parents however we can assume they were Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON as they were the only couple in Saulnes of this surname and with children of marrying age.6

Barbe was not only a widow but also the mother of three children ages 2, 5, and nearly 7. She was about two months pregnant when Nicolas witnessed, along with his father Jean, the marriage of his brother Jean on 22 January 1713 in Rodange (Luxembourg).7 Jean married Jeanne BERKIN (1683-1759) – the couple were my 6th great-grandparents.

1713 Baptismal Record of Julien “FURNIER.” Image courtesy of FamilySearch

On 31 August 1713, at the age of 35, Barbe gave birth to a son in Hussigny. Julien FOURNEL’s baptism took place on the same day and was recorded in the parish records of Obercorn. His godparents were Julien MERGEN and Maria GERARD, both of Hussigny.8 The baptismal record was found in Obercorn as Hussigny belonged to the parish of Obercorn (Luxembourg) up until 15 February 1714.9 If any other children were born and/or died after 1714 they are lost as there are no records in Hussigny.

In 1720 Nicolas’ sisters Jeanne and Sébastienne married and started families.

The following year, Nicolas of Hussigny and his brother Jean of Rodange witnessed the death record of their father Jean FOURNEL on 3 September 1721 in Saulnes.10

Nicolas’ youngest brother Jacques FOURNELLE married after the death of their father and before 1724.

Nicolas’ occupation was a laborer in several of the records Aimé Tarnus found in the archives. On 18 May 1728, he was listed as the mayor of Hussigny.11

Nicolas and Barbe’s only known child, Julien FOURNEL married Catherine BERNARDIN (1705-1775) after 4 February 1733. Her relationship to her mother-in-law Barbe’s first husband Jean BERNARDIN and the children from that marriage has not been determined.

No marriage record was found for Julien who had at least three children with his wife Catherine between about 1737-1747. Estimated years of birth have been calculated using their death records.

An interesting document was discovered by Aimé Tarnus concerning Catherine’s first pregnancy used to calculate when the marriage took place. On 4 February 1733 Catherine BERNARDIN made a declaration de grossesse or declaration of pregnancy naming Julien FOURNEL as the father.

Declaration of pregnancy

What is a declaration of pregnancy? Why were these documents created? What was included in them? Where are they found?

To fight against abortions, clandestine childbirths, abandonment, and prevent infanticides, an edict was proclaimed under Henry II in February 1556. The edict of 25 February 1708 under Louis XIV reaffirmed the edict of 1556 against the concealment of pregnancy and childbirth. Unmarried girls and widows were forced to declare their pregnancy free of charge before a notary or a lieutenant of justice.12

The declaration included the circumstances in which the woman had become pregnant and the identity of the father of the child. The statement that was given by the young lady usually had the names of her parents, where she was from, and her age. If the name of the father wasn’t given, sometimes during childbirth at the instigation of the priest or the magistrate, they tried to obtain a confession. Information on the circumstances may have been recorded in the baptismal register during the baptism of the child.

Every three months during the sermon in the parish church the congregation was reminded of their duty to report pregnancies.

During the Revolution in 1789, declarations of pregnancies had fallen more or less into disuse depending on the region.

Declarations of pregnancy are filed in the judicial archives in series B in the departmental archives.

The declaration of pregnancy made by Catherine BERNARDIN may have included information that Julien FOURNEL abused her as a very short extract by Mr. Tarnus indicates.13 However, the judicial archives’ Series B would need to be consulted to confirm the circumstances of the pregnancy.

As the baptismal records for 1733 are not available, there is no record of birth for a child born to Catherine and Julien.

Volume 1 of 3 of the family book “Histoires des Familles Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900” by Aimé Tarnus accessed in the Luxracines archives.

Other events were taking place in the Nicolas FOURNEL family during these times.

On 17 February 1734 two transactions were found in which Nicolas and his wife Barbe were selling real estate. They sold land to Pierre DIDION14 and part of a house in Hussigny to Nicolas GILLARDIN and Elisabeth BERNARDIN. Elisabeth was Barbe’s oldest child from her first marriage.15

On 19 March 1737 Nicolas and his wife sold land to Nicolas SPELTZ.16

Catherine FOURNEL, a daughter of Julien and Catherine, was born about 1738. Anne FOURNEL was born about 1746 and Michel FOURNEL was born about 1747.

By 29 October 1748, Nicolas FOURNEL was deceased. His widow owned money to an unknown person (record damaged).17

On 7 April 1749 Barbe declared that she was no longer able to provide for her food and maintenance, selling land to her daughter Elisabeth BERNARDIN and her husband Nicolas GILLARDIN.18

This was exactly one year after the affairs of her son Julien FOURNEL, deceased, were being taken care of by his uncles Jacques and Henry FOURNEL.19 Julien FOURNEL died shortly before 8 April 1748. Was his father deceased by this time and is this the reason his uncles were taking care of the inventory?

Barbe lived another decade, dying on 7 March 1758 in Hussigny at the age of 80.20 She did not live to see her three FOURNEL grandchildren marry.

Catherine FOURNELLE married Jacques LAFONTAINE (1721-1796) on 30 April 1765 in Crusnes (Meurthe-et-Moselle). The groom was an invalid soldier and 16 years older than the bride. Henry FOURNEL (son of the above mentioned Henry FOURNEL d. 1753), the bride’s first cousin once removed,  witnessed the marriage as her curator.21

Anne FOURNEL married François FRANÇOIS on 4 August 1767 in Hussigny. Henry FOURNEL also witnessed this marriage.22 This couple had a daughter in 1767 and a son in 1769.

Michel FOURNEL married Suzanne HUMBERT on 7 January 1772 in Baslieux (Meurthe-et-Moselle).23 Of the nine children born to them between 1772 and  1792 only two grew to adulthood and married.

1775 Death Record of Catherine BERNARDIN. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 48/R 2 vue 369 de 607

Catherine BERNARDIN, the widow of Julien and mother of the three children, died 3 January 1775 at the age of 75. Her son Michel FOURNEL and her son-in-law François FRANÇOIS were witnesses to the death record.24 There is, however, an error in the death record. Catherine is named as the widow of Michel FOURNEL instead of Julien. The witnesses’ relationship with her was mentioned therefore we can assume the husband’s name was a clerical error.

Two of the three grandchildren of Nicolas FOURNEL and Barbe AGARANT remained in the area. Michel died 31 October 1799 at the age of 5225 and Anne FOURNEL died 16 June 1808 at the age of 6226, both in Baslieux.

The oldest granddaughter, Catherine had three children in Crusnes in 1765, 1767, and 1769 before moving to Chalon-sur-Saône (Bourgogne) where she gave birth to a daughter in 1775. The family moved to Salins-les-Bains (Jura) in eastern France by 1779 where Catherine had two more children with her invalid soldier husband. She died in Salins-les-Bains on 9 February 1818 at the age of 80.27

Next week, the third child of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON, will be discussed – my 6th great-grandfather Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749).

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 3)

Françoise FOURNEL (1678-1729) and Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745)

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange > 1668-1773 > Herserange B. (1668-1688, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), M. (1684-1686, 1688-1692, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), S. (1676-1679, 1681-1689, 1694-1742, 1745-1773) > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 28 of 529. New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1683 [illegible] Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in poor condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  2. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 21 of 529. Abt. 1675/6 Death Record (left page, 6th entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075bfd4 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 333 of 529. 1702 Death Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1> image 311 of 529. 1707 Baptismal Record of Marie Drouet, godfather Nicolas Fourny. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538081d08c : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 300 of 529. 1708 Marriage Record of Jean Courtois and Françoise Fournel (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Réhon 1710-1792 > 5 Mi 450/R 2 > image 373 of 767. 1710 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10eca1233/54b0f2e7a367b : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 266 of 529. 1713 Marriage Record of Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  8. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 51 of 296. 1713 Baptismal Record (left page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9S4G?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 11 August 2020). 
  9. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, Introduction in the front matter of the book. 
  10. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 183 of 529. 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  11. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “Mos. B 8696 : le 18/5/1728, Nicolas est maire de H.” 
  12. GénéaFrance, a practical guide to French research. http://www.geneafrance.org/rubrique.php?page=grossesse and http://www.geneafrance.org/rubrique.php?page=naturel 
  13. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 536, family  2031. “Mos. B 8715 : le 4/2/1733, declaration de grossesse de Catherine BERNARDIN, fa. De + Julien c\ le dénommé Julien FOURNELLE qui a abuse ets… (copies)” 
  14. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 91 : Le même jour [17/02/1734], ils vendent à Pierre DIDION, meunier à H., 3 verges de terre etc…” 
  15. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 91 : le 17/02/1734, Nicolas FOURNIER, Lab. à H. et Barbe AGARAND, sa fe., vendent à Nicolas GILLARDIN, man. à H., et Elis. BERNARDIN, sa fe., une partie d’une maison à H. etc…” 
  16. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 148 : le 19/03/1737, Nicolas FOURNIER (FOURNEL dans l’acte), lab. à H., et Barbe AGARANT sa fe., vendent à Nicolas SPELTZ, marchand àG. un jour de terre à la Mère Colle etc… pour 54 livres” 
  17. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 158 : le 29/10/1748, Barbe AGARANT, Vve. de Nicolas FOURNEL, dmt. à H. doit une somme d’argent à ? (abimé)” 
  18. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 100 : le 7/4/1749, Barbe AGARANT, Vve. de Nicolas FOURNEL, dmt. à H., déclare ne plus être en état de subvenir à sa nouriture et à son entretien, elle vend à Nicolas GILLARDIN et Elis. BERNARDIN, sa fe., 5 verges 1/2 à H. etc…” 
  19. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 536, family  2031. “Mos. B 8647 : le 8/4/1748, inv. ap. + de Julien FOURNELLE ; Ts. Jacques FOURNELLE, Henry FOURNELLE, Nicolas PETIT et François BALTUS, tous de Hussigny.” 
  20. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Hussigny-Godbrange 1714-1809 > 5 Mi 268/R 1 > image 35 of 677. 1758 Death Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b0105319c69 : accessed 24 August 2020). 
  21. Ibid., Crusnes 1648-1794 > 5 Mi 148/R 1 > image 551 of 767. 1765 Marriage Record (left page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e965042/54aecd1d0c6e6 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  22. Ibid., Hussigny-Godbrange 1714-1809 > 5 Mi 268/R 1 > image 57 of 677. 1767 Marriage Record (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b0105324541 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  23. Ibid., Baslieux 1728 17925 Mi 48/R 2 image 338 of 607. 1772 Marriage Record (right page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e858cf3/54ad67298249f : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  24. Ibid., Baslieux 1728-1792 > 5 Mi 48/R 2 > image 369 of 607. 1775 Death Record (right page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e858cf3/54ad672995ac0 : accessed 24 August 2020). 
  25. Ibid., Baslieux > 1793-1872 > 5 Mi 48/R 4 > image 318+319 of 633. 1799 Death Record (part 1)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6e57e1e : accessed 7 August 2020) and 1799 Death Record (part 2)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6e589fd : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  26. Ibid., Baslieux 1793-1872 > 5 Mi 48/R 4 > image 411 of 633. 1808 Death Record (right page, 1st entry).
    (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6eb3669 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  27. Archives départementales du Jura (39), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://archives39.fr/), Salins-les-Bains, commune > 3E/6899 > image 130 of 244. La réutilisation des données publiques: Par délibération du 11 décembre 2018 complétée par celle du 23 avril 2018, le Département du Jura a adopté le principe de la réutilisation libre et gracieuse sous licence Etalab version 2.0 pour tous les documents et données conservés aux Archives du Jura pouvant relever du cadre de la réutilisation, à l’exception donc des documents et données où s’exerce le droit d’auteur. Le réutilisateur est tenu d’indiquer la source des documents et données sous la forme suivante : Archives départementales du Jura (forme abrégée Arch. dép. Jura ou AD 39), la cote du document ou donnée, la date (ou date de la dernière mise à jour), son analyse ou sa description synthétique. 1818 Death Record No. 25. (http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563654bsRFPP/27d46d830b : accessed 24 August 2020). 

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.

17 thoughts on “Nicolas FOURNEL (1683-abt.1748) and Barbe AGARANT (abt.1678-1758)”

  1. I find it astounding the number of records you are able to find relating to your families. My New England roots provide a variety of records, but I drool about yours when working on my husband’s Southern ancestors. They lived everywhere no records were kept.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A declaration of pregnancy! That’s seems like such an invasion of privacy. How dare they ask people to report this. And what could it mean—the circumstances of the pregnancy? Presumably if the woman was married, that would seem pretty obvious, no? Fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Married women did not declare pregnancies. When I wrote this part of the post I knew you would question their having the right to this information. I cannot image the shame a young woman went through during these times.

      The first edict was proclaimed over four centuries ago during times of ever changing powers in Europe.

      The church was trying to protect the unborn child while the state was looking out for themselves. One example, armies were being sent into areas their sovereign had taken over. Young women and widows may have offered their services to soldiers or they may have been used by the soldiers. This is where we get to the circumstances of the pregnancy. A young couple may have just not waited to marry and ended up marrying a few months before the birth. In other cases, the church and the state did not want to provide for a child when the father could be made to provide for him.

      I actually found a baptismal record in which the mother said the father of her child was an unnamed soldier who had raped her. It was the first record of this kind that I found when I began working with the French records back in 2013. It wasn’t for any of my families and today I wish I had saved it as an example.

      Thank you, Amy. Your comments always make me think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fascinating! So the church would take financial responsibility for a child born out of wedlock? That’s interesting since in so many cultures such a child would have been rejected. It still seems an invasion of privacy—I’d feel differently if it had been an option for women seeking help from the church or the government. Thanks for answering, Cathy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re welcome, Amy. From one presentation I attended on church records, the speaker stressed the fact that priests were well educated and the go-between the people and the government. The speaker wrote articles under a pseudonym on researching in Luxembourg and sent them to those who attended his presentation. I’m sure there is a better explanation in his articles than I can give you from memory. I think it’s time for me to sit down and read them again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Declarations of Pregnancy – that’s a new one to me! I understand why they were implemented as a matter of policy, but awfully nosy. I suppose there were no secrets between citizen and state or church.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was awfully nosy but the church was trying to protect the unborn children while the state was trying to protect single women from being abused. Thanks for catching up on my Fournel posts and sorry for the delete on the previous comment, Michael.

      Like

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