The data bank contains 13,247 entries that can be used to trace all non-Catholic baptisms in the judicial district of Montréal during the period from 1766 to 1835. At the time of the Conquest in 1760, the British authorities had a special situation on their hands: the Anglican Church became the official church of the colony, but French Canadians of Catholic allegiance formed the majority of the population. The documents of the surrender of Québec City (1759) and Montréal (1760), the Treaty of Paris (1763), and, finally, the Quebec Act (1774) in a certain way determined the civil, political and religious rights of the French Canadians and took account of the French tradition of the Ancien Régime. Among other things, they left the Catholic Church with the responsibility for keeping the registers of civil status.
In parallel to Catholic practices, a specific system was developed for the Protestants who settled in the new colony. During the first years of the British Regime, the Anglican Church saw to acts of baptism, marriage and burial for the entire non-Catholic community. That community included not only Anglicans, most of whom were army officers and civil servants, but also Presbyterians, a majority of whom were soldiers and merchants, and a few merchants of Jewish origin. The military population also included German mercenaries, who were almost all Lutherans.
The registers of civil status kept by the Protestant authorities differed greatly from those kept by the Catholic authorities, and they have generally left us with less information. This can be attributed to the fact that, except in the Anglican and Presbyterian churches, baptism was not a sacrament, and to the fact that information was gathered only for civil status purposes.
In addition, the Protestant churches were divided up among a multitude of small communities, contrary to the organization of Catholic parishes, each of which covered a specific area and was served by one priest. A Protestant minister, on the other hand, was responsible for several communities and recorded the acts of baptism, marriage and burial for all of them in a single register.
Currently, a printed index of non-Catholic baptisms (1766-1899) is available at the Montréal archives centre of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). The online data bank provides access to the first part of the printed index, i.e. baptisms during the 1766-1835 period.
Each entry in the data bank specifies the family name and given names of the child, the year of the baptism, the name of the church and the religious denomination. A "folio" field gives the number of the leaf on which the act of baptism is listed. Added to this information is the reference number of the parish (the CE number) according to the classification system used at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec. It is important to point out that, children of Presbyterian or Methodist―more broadly, non-Catholic―parents, could be a few weeks or even several years old when they were baptized. It should also be pointed out that the family names and given names in the data bank have not been standardized. They have been transcribed as found in the sources.
Despite these shortcomings, we feel that this research tool will be of interest to many amateur and professional researchers, ethnologists, genealogists and historians.