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Archiver > BOUCHER > 2004-07 > 1090891582

From: "David or Eunice Boucher" <>
Subject: How do you pronounce it? (was: Boucher & Butcher Ethnicity
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 20:26:54 -0500
In-Reply-To: <001c01c4733d$4fd58890$b844da18@NetBoie>

Everyone in my family pronounces "Boucher" to rhyme with "voucher." Not a
trace of French in the way we pronounce it. So far, I have managed to trace
my Boucher ancestors back to one John Boutcher, aka John Butcher, who lived
near Philadelphia in the late 17th century. The spellings "Boucher" and
"Butcher" are both used by his descendants to this day. I can show you
records where the name is spelled both ways in the same document. I have
not yet found out where John Boutcher/Butcher came from, but he was buried
in the churchyard of an Episcopalian church, an American version of the
Anglican Church. That and the pronunciation of his name that can be
inferred from the spelling variations of his name, lead me to believe that
he was probably from England, not France.

As I said before, the English word "butcher" is derived from the French word
"boucher". The word became part of the English language during the Norman
conquest. This happened before most families adopted surnames, and at a
time when most of the population could not read or write. At that time,
there was no such thing as standardized spelling, and in England, "butcher"
/ "boucher" were just different ways of spelling the same word. When people
in England started to write their names, some adopted the English spelling,
others the French. Some, like my ancestors, just kept switching back and
forth as the mood struck them. The choice was purely a matter of taste, not
ancestry. You say Smith, I say Smythe. The net result is that you have a
lot of "Boucher" families without a drop of French blood -- families that
lived in Britain before the Norman Conquest, perhaps even centuries before
the French language came into existence.

The key, I believe, is in the pronunciation. If you pronounce "Boucher" as
"boo-SHAY", "boo-SHEE", "Bushey" or some other variant of the French
pronunciation, then it is likely you are descended from French Canadians or
Huguenots. But if you use an English pronunciation, like "BOOK-er" or
"butcher" or "BOW-sher", or to rhyme with "voucher", then you are probably
of English descent. I'll bet there are a lot of the latter out there.

-----Original Message-----
From: Dave Constantine [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, July 26, 2004 1:21 PM
Subject: [BOUCHER-L] Boucher & Butcher Ethnicity

It may not be safe to always assume that the name Boucher means the
person is of French or French-Canadian derivation, but I
would hazard the guess that it is a safe assumption that there is a strong
liklihood that the person is of French or French-Canadian
extraction. Butcher, since it is an English word as well as name, and since
the USA is a mostly an English speaking country, may
well be an English or Irish or French or German or Czech or Russian, etc.
name. I expect the preponderance would be English but
people of many ethnic backgrounds Anglicize their names by translating the
meaning to English when imigrating to the USA.
Geography has a great deal to do with it as well. If you are a
Boucher living within several hundred miles of the
French-Canadian border chances are pretty good that your ancestors were
French or French-Canadian. And we shouldn't forget that the
French Territory of Louisianna at one time comprised not only present day
Louisiana, but also much of the western USA. Detroit,
Vincennes, Kaskaskia and St Louis were all French settlements before they
were cities in the USA. There was also the expulsion of
the French from Acadia when they were scattered along the Eastern seacoast
with the largest population ending up in Louisiana, now
known as Cajun.
Saying that "Boucher" and "Butcher" are nothing more than
alternative spellings for the same name is at least an
oversimplification. Boucher is the French word meaning butcher, and
sometimes used as a name. Butcher is the English word for
butcher and sometimes used as a name. Assuming that a person named Boucher
or any of many pronunciation variants (ie. Bushey,
Bushay, Bouchee, Bouchie, etc.), is probably a person of French or
French-Canadian descent is probably fairly safe. I don't think
it is quite as safe to assume the ancestry of a person named Butcher.
My grandmother was a Bushey, her grandfather was a Boucher born in
Sorel, Quebec.

Dave Constantine in Boston

----- Original Message -----
From: "David or Eunice Boucher" <>
> It was written:
> "Boucher" is an English name, too. The word "butcher" derives from the
> French word "boucher". In fact, about 40% of our common English words
> from the French, courtesy of the Norman Conquest. The surname "Boucher"
> found in England as early as the thirteenth century. When the English
> to adopt surnames, some adopted the "Butcher" spelling, others spelled it
> "Boucher". "Boucher" and "Butcher" are nothing more than alternative
> spellings for the same name, and you'll find both spellings used for the
> same families in records dated as late as the end of the nineteenth
> If we don't assume that everyone with the surname "Butcher" must be of
> French descent, then why should we make that assumption of people who
> it "Boucher"?
> - David Boucher

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