Research in Luxembourg #7
Therese Becker © 1998
Notarial records in Luxembourg National Archives
In 1992 the collection of notarial records in the Archives of
Luxembourg was composed of 6450 bundles corresponding to 730 lineal
meters of shelves. Needless to say that this collection has not
been microfilmed by the Archives neither by the LDS Genealogical
Society of Utah and can only be searched in the Archives of
Luxembourg.
It is also in 1992 that a small inventory to this collection was
published by the National Archives of Luxembourg under the
direction of "Antoine Willems" who was Director of the Archives at
that time. The book is called "Le Minutier Central des Notaires
1581-1930 - Inventaire" (see more details in the 1992 Notarial
Inventory file.)
The collection is composed of a large variety of documents called
"Minutes" and a few "Repertoires" which are sort of an index to the
documents or "Minutes". However, the Repertoires which do not exist
for all notaries, do not really make things easier because they
usually give the name of one person only, while the documents
themselves may contain many names, especially in the case of
marriage contracts, testaments or estate settlements.
When working in the Archives, a researcher can only request a
limited number of bundles each day and can only take one bundle at
the time in the reading room. I soon found out that the Repertoires
were just as illegible as the Minutes and I could go almost as fast
searching the Minutes because the names of interest were usually
towards the beginning of the document or at least on the first
page. I would have missed some very precious information if I had
searched the Repertoires only whenever they existed, instead of the
Minutes.
It was only after 3 days of arduous work in the Archives that
someone kindly mentioned the 7 volumes of inventory prepared by
Nicolas van Werveke. These volumes are not kept in the basement
with the bundles and do not count as part of the quota of bundles
that one can get each day. The only writer of the 7 volumes is
Nicolas van Werveke and once you get used to his writing (some
people think that he is more difficult to read than the gothic
script of the Minutes) you can make a pretty good survey of the
documents you need. Unfortunately, even though Nicolas van Werveke
did a tremendous job, he worked on a very small portion of all the
notarial documents and is not always accurate. I noticed the name
Roob (or I read that name as Roob?) which appeared repeatedly and
should have been Koob. (I will give the content of the Inventory of
Van Werveke in another file.) Van Werveke's inventory gives the
names of the two parties who are establishing the contract. This is
a definite advantage over the Repertoires but neither the
Repertoires of the notaries nor the Inventory of van Werveke can be
any kind of substitute for searching all the Minutes.
When working at the Archives in Luxembourg, one is permitted to
request photocopy of a document by placing markers in the bundle
and filling out a photocopy request form when returning the bundle.
However the photocopy will not be made while you wait especially if
the person assigned to make the photocopies is not there.
Notarial records in Luxembourg are most useful during the 17th and
18th century, to supplement non existent parish registers or
incomplete parish registers. I have also noticed that notarial
records may sometimes give two surnames by which a person is known
prior to 1808 and this may help you to prove a direct line (see
article on House names).

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