1-2. Origin of the Name
The origin of the Blouin name and its evolution
Oh! If only Emeri knew how to read and write, he would have found surprises at every turn at what has become of his family name. He never even knew how to properly spell his name when he arrived in New France.
This is how our ancestor crossed the Atlantic for New France under the name Emeri Bellouin. Upon his arrival, he received various first and last names. In 1664, as he sealed a loan on his behalf, the notary Pierre Duquet referred to him as “Mery Beloing”. Then in 1667, when Bishop Laval granted him an allowance, the notary Paul Vachon wrote “Mery Bellouin”. His marriage contract, dated in early November 1669, also mentioned “Mery Bellouin” while the priest officiating at the marriage ceremony later that month used “Merry Besloüin”. Emeri died on July 14, 1707, at the age of 67, supposedly under the name “Méry Bloing”. Please understand that this short list, of so many first and last names for the same man, is far from exhaustive.
At the time of our ancestor Emeri, the Blouin patronym was not used here in New France. But in France, various designations existed, including the Belluin and the Blouin. Thus, a single look at the French departmental archives for the greater community of Poitiers, located near Emeri’s hometown of Saint-Pierre d’Étusson, informs us that a dozen of related surnames were common to refer to the Bellouin and the Blouin.
The website www.genealogie.com1provides a balanced retelling and account of the origin of these names:
- Bellouin is a family name derived from the personal name of Germanic origin biliwin, derived from the root bili, which means kind and gentle, and win that means friend and is the nickname of an amiable man.
- Blouin is a family name derived from Old French’s blou, or blue, and a moniker referring to a pale man, or a man with pale skin.
The other patronyms related to the two previous ones seem to be derivatives of or contractions on the name, as is often seen. The German influence found here is typical of many French surnames.
But for other major genealogy archives interested in surnames (YourFolks, La Mémoire du Québec and Geneanet, to mention only these), there doesn’t seem to exist many differences in the German origins of the patronyms Bellouin and Blouin. The archives even have Blouin as arising from Bellouin and Beloin.
However, we must note that that here in Quebec, the Blouin family name is much more current and relevant.
According to the Quebec Statistical Institute, the name Blouin is 32 times more common than Beloin. (And Bellouin is not even present in the statistics provided.)2 It is first by this Blouin patronym that descendants of Emeri and Marie Carreau are known today. It also explains why the Association of the Blouin from North America chose the name “Blouin”, despite the known surnames of its ancestor and the variety of surnames of its offspring. Many other Quebec families have lived through the same situation.
Over time, the many different switches in the family name, here in Quebec, from Bellouin to Blouin in particular, did not happen for one unique and specific reason across our entire family. It’s not simply a matter of personal taste; it also depends on our sociohistorical context. Most people then could neither read nor write. Even educated people like priests, notaries and surveyors spelled all these patronyms to the best of their knowledge, or even from what they thought they were hearing since so many suffered from more or less serious hearing loss. Let’s also not forget the many phonetic variations of dialect depending on their region of origin. Because he or she was illiterate, the person whose name was modified on an official document could neither be offended by it nor could she contest it. Moreover, nothing prescribed that the identity of one person needed to be standardized; no level of government had legislated the issue. With so many government services available nowadays, we can only be known by a single family name. The same goes for relationships between individuals, particularly in the trade. This wasn’t always so.
With the second generation, the uniformity of the name had not yet been established for those who would ensure the future of the family. For example, Jean (1672) was baptized as Belloin, Jacques (1676) as Belouyn, Gabriel (1691) as Bloing and Paul (1699) as Beloing. But the study of some marriage certificates shows us that the transition to Blouin was already on track. The second and third marriages of Jean mention Jean Blouin; Jacques married his second wife Geneviève Plante and the marriage certificate designates him as Jean Bloüin or Blouin (i.e. the calligraphy raises some ambiguity). With the third generation, many are starting to sign their name as Blouin or Bloüin. What happened at that time that those who would ensure the future of the family after Emeri and Marie would transition toward Blouin? This would be the beginning, here in New France, of the use of the Blouin patronym.
This movement toward Blouin would persevere across the various branches of the tree of the family of Emeri’s descendants, some going from Beloin to Blouin later on. But let us never forget that we are descendants of the Bellouin name.
Finally, while Pierre-Georges Roy3 and the reverend father Archange Godbout4 mentioned in their writings that our ancestor signed his name as “Mery Bellouin”, let’s emphasize that we have never found any sign of this signature in the numerous civil, religious or legal documents consulted. As for the name “Mery,” it certainly appears to be a diminutive of and the nickname for Emeri.
Latest version: May 2015
1. This site presents information compiled together by the various French associations of genealogy.
2. Source: A table titled « Les 5 000 premiers noms de famille par ordre alphabétique, Québec » from the institute’s website and taken from Louis Duchesne, « Les noms de famille au Québec, aspects statistiques et distribution spatiale, Institut de la statistique du Québec », 2006.
3. Historical research, A bulletin of archeology, history, biography, bibliography, coins, etc., published by Pierre-Georges Roy, Volume 15, Lévis, 1909, p. 24.
4. A text from the reverend father Archange Godbout titled “Nos Ancêtres Au XVIIe Siècle (Suite)” from: The secretariat of the province, A report from the province of Quebec’s archivist for 1957-1958 and 1958-1959, Redempti Paradis Printer of Her Majesty the Queen, p. 409.