Index to Court Records on the BAnQ (Quebec Archives) Website Reveals Nefarious Life in Quebec City

Looking at the BAnQ (Quebec Archives) site and their digital collections has always been a great discovery for me. Last time I had a peak I noticed some new databases I hadn’t yet explored.

So if you have Quebec City ancestors you may be as interested as I in the Inventory of Documents from the Court of General Sessions. It is about 1/2 way down the page under the heading Law Courts.

What an amazing day I have had exploring this record set. The collection covers the years 1706-1927, and some years are not well represented, the main years are 1800-1927.

BUT, and I mean a HUGE but there are so much information contained in this database. Literally for years I have been searching for something, anything to tell me about my sailor ancestor Richard Lee Norton, what ships was he sailing on, where was he going, how long was he away? I have searched all over Canada and England for anything at all about him. I have only a few pieces of evidence; the baptism of his son in 1857 where it states that he is a Captain of the Montmorenci, City Directories and census records, and his headstone. Now I know a little more.

In 1854 he was a Captain of the steamboat Princess Royal. (insert squeal and happy dance)! Ok, ya, he is getting charged with assault, not ideal, but then again if it didn’t happen maybe I wouldn’t have found out he was a Captain of this boat.

Richard Lee Norton Captain of Princess Royal charged with assaulting Joseph Lapointe, 1854

Ok, now I have to be honest, not all the records are super great, I have multiple instances where I have family charging people with assault, or getting charged. It is a lot to contend with. But I have decided if my Ancestors were all prim and proper I would know a lot less about them.

I found my great great grandmother Hannah Norton had someone charged for assault and battery (are you seriously kidding me here?) in 1862.

Hannah Norton deposition against Ismeniah Walsh wife of John Lewis for assault and battery

Then this one, Cecilia Ready, twin sister of my great great grandmother Anastasia Ready, charged with stealing perfume in 1877!! (picture my mouth hanging open at each new reveal)

Cecilia Ready charged with stealing perfume, 1877

It just keeps going, I found in the index that Richard Norton jr. gave a deposition as he was the caretaker of Young Men’s Christian Association about a fire that happened there in 1892!

Richard Norton jr. deposition about the fire at the the caretaker of Young Men’s Christian Association, 1892

Ok, that’s all my examples for now, I have sent an email to BAnQ to figure out how I can get my hands on all these awesome documents. Email (

I have to say a huge thank you to BAnQ, cause this record set is seriously a genealogists dream database. They also have made searching much easier by having multiple variations of spellings covered when you search. The surname Jeffery has so many variations that I often will miss a few of them in my searches, BAnQ have made that headache go away.

I also suggest reading through the record descrition at the bottom of the page which is very helpful to understanding what is available and what records are missing, like many from 1866-73, in 1873 there was a fire at the Quebec City Courthouse and they were mostly destroyed.

I also have Google set to translate pages for me so the page always appears in English. The translation is not always the best but enough for me to navigate. If you struggle with French you may want to try it.

I truly hope you have as much fun as I did finding scandalous Ancestors and their nefarious activities in these records!

  19 comments for “Index to Court Records on the BAnQ (Quebec Archives) Website Reveals Nefarious Life in Quebec City

  1. January 22, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Great post! I’m going to look for my ancestors in those records. Happy searching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 22, 2021 at 5:28 pm

      Best of luck! I have literally found so many scandalous things!


      • January 22, 2021 at 5:33 pm

        Excellent! (You know how I mean that)


  2. January 22, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    Wow you sure found some treasures there! I’ll have to take a look, I have an ancestor I know nothing about. Thanks for the heads up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 30, 2021 at 5:04 am

    Hi Patricia, This is Pat from our Boot Camp in Toronto – what happened in Toronto stays in Toronto. 🙂 This is a great post – how were you able to get it show up in English? When I click on the English tab, it says it is only available in French.


    • January 30, 2021 at 6:46 am

      Hi! We had so much fun at our Boot Camp!
      As far as French to English I use Google Chrome and here is the link to instructions on how to get it to automatically translate a website:
      I did this years ago so please let me know if this works for you.


      • February 10, 2021 at 3:21 am

        Thanks, I will use the extension. I have used Google Translate a lot before but never realized you could add it on permanently. Let me know if you go to any more conferences, it would be nice to meet up again.


      • February 10, 2021 at 5:38 am

        Agree it would be great to catch up again!


  4. toniiniowa
    January 30, 2021 at 7:21 am

    I couldn’t read the gray on white text.


    • January 30, 2021 at 8:43 am

      I tried to change the font colour but according to the settings my font is already black, so I am a little confused.


  5. January 30, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Yaay I found one! My 2x ggf on Ile-aux Reaux made a deposition against a guy from Quebec City for assault and battery. That was two years after my 2x ggf had his arm amputated after a farming accident. Bully!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 30, 2021 at 9:39 am

      I am shocked by the amount of times my ancestors charged people with assault and battery. I keep trying to picture what was happening in their lives.
      In your case why is someone attacking a one-armed man…? I have always wanted more stories for my tree but I am not sure how my relatives will feel if I share all this stuff.


  6. Susan Quinn
    February 2, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    This looks very exciting. However, I cannot find on the BAnQ website the place that you are referring to. How exactly do I access this info?


    • February 2, 2021 at 4:59 pm

      The link
      In the post is clickable but I have changed my site a couple days ago and see it isn’t obvious. I will edit it.
      Let me know if that helps!


      • February 2, 2021 at 5:04 pm

        Oh wow – thanks so much for such a speedy response. Yes, I think that does work. And I figure my dislike of BAnQ is a self-fulfilling prophecy – I have had trouble finding things, so I don’t use it, and can’t figure my way around it, and then have never really gotten to “know” it. Exploring it is my next task.
        Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • February 2, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        The link should take you to the page with all their databases! I wish gear bookmarking it as it isn’t always easy to find.


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