QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2010-02 > 1265059062
From: "Desjardins Bertrand" <>
Subject: Re: [Q-R] Majeur et Mineur
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2010 16:17:42 -0500
Mona: the age at majority became 21 in 1783, not 1795:
L'âge majeur en vigueur en l'année 1763, 25 ans.
L'âge majoré à 21 ans, par la loi passée le 6 novembre 1764, par le gouverneur James Murray. En vigueur le 1 janvier 1765.
L'âge majeur de 21 ans annulé par le Roi Georges III, chapitre 83. L'âge de 25 ans revient en vigueur le 1 mai 1775.
L'âge majoré de 25 à 21 ans, le 16 février 1782, par le gouverneur Frédéric Haldimand et devient en vigueur le 1 janvier 1783.
As for the church, when "Mineur" or "Majeur" were used in the marriage records, it referred to the civil age, that is under 25 or not or under 21 or not, for both sexes.
De : [mailto:] De la part de Mona Andrée Rainville
Envoyé : 1 février 2010 15:54
À : Michael K Harris
Objet : Re: [Q-R] Majeur et Mineur
Hello Michael in Soooo Cal,
Here is the copy of an answer I gave to this question a few years go.
The answer is yes, and yes.
Now, for the nitty gritty...
There are two kinds of majority: the civil, and the religious.
Civil majority is whatever the laws of the land say it is, when and where.
Religious majority stems for old Roman law according to which one was
not quite ready to face the responsibilities of life until one had
reached the ripe old age of 25 (...seems way too young, speaking from
personal experience...but I digress). It was therefore decided that
anyone seeking to get married needed the official permission of his or
her parents or guardians, if they were not yet 25 years of age. Hence,
you will usually find a note showing such a person to be a minor in the
Civil majority and Matrimonial majority are two different concepts.
The "Coutume de Paris", which became the civil law of New France in
1663, proclaimed the age of 25 to be the age of civil majority of all
French subjects, men and women, of the Old as well as of the New
France. However, the Church being distinct from the State continued to
apply its own canonic rules, and so 25 was the religious legal age for
women and 30 for men.
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris, the act by which the King of England
obtained control of New France, stated that Civil law as it presently
existed in New France would remain in force. Largely, it did, for a
short while, and 25 remained the legal age for both men and women.
However, one year later, in 1764, legislation was brought in which
curtailed the application of the Treaty of Paris and this brought some
measure of confusion as to what, in fact, was the applicable legal age.
This confusion becomes evident when reading notarial documents from that
time which show that the age of majority floated arbitrarily between
either 21 (as per English law) or 25 (as per French law). But there
again, there was not distinction between men and women when it came to
civil legal age.
It took another piece of legislation, the Quebec Act of 1774,
promulgated by the King of England, then George III, and his Parliament,
to reinstate French civil law in what was now Canada and 25 was
confirmed to be the legal age of majority of men and women, in Canada.
But again, the temporal being distinct from the spiritual, the Catholic
church stood steadfast by its own rules. 25 for women, 30 for men...
Well, almost steadfast. Of course, one can find some exceptions in the
records, but they are rare.
In 1795, the civil age of majority in Canada was lowered to 21 by the
Governor in Counsel, but the church did not follow suit.
Not until Pope John XXIII and his Council, sometimes in the 1960s, was
the matrimonial age of consent officially lowered to 21 for both men and
So there it is.
Yes, there were guidelines - but after 1763 their application varied
depending on who were called to apply them.
And, yes, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the same rules of civil
majority applied to both men and women. But not so when it came to
Michael K Harris wrote:
> Bonjour list-
> We have all seen the terms "majeur" and "mineur" in marriage records,
> indicating the legal age of the individual.
> 1. Is there a guideline for the legal age of an individual for the
> 17th and 18th centuries?
> 2. Was there a difference for men and women?
> Thanks, as always,
> -Michael (in SoCal)
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