The Basics: A Guide
Dutch Government Required Churches to Keep Family Records
As early as 1695 the churches were told to keep duplicate copies of the baptismal and marriage registers. Although many churches adhered to this command, there were also many that did not. Therefore, there are churches whose registers do not go back very far. This is particularly true for marriage registers in Friesland. Many of the registers only start in 1772, this is the year that the churches were once again ordered to keep duplicate records. Even though the marriage registers start in 1772, the baptismal registers often go back to the early 1700's or before that.
The LDS (Mormon) church - look for their nearest Family History Centre (FHC) in your phone book or consult your local library's reference department for this information - has some excellent guides to genealogical sources for the various provinces in the Netherlands. These guides tell you the records that are available for each municipality. For example, if one looks in the guide for the province of Gelderland, you will find the following listed for Arnhem: NHK, baptismal 1608-1811, marriages 1581-1811, deaths 1738-1811, members 1660-1806; RK, baptismal 1722-1881, marriages 1722-1811, deaths 1754-1811; Lutheran, baptismal 1648-1811, marriages 1684-1811; court records 1293-1811, etc. These booklets are available through the local Mormon (another name for the LDS church) Family History Centre. Is the lack of a marriage register prior to 1772 a problem? Yes and no.
Let's look at the no first, it's the shortest. Most baptismal registers give the name of the mother and father, therefore, you know that you are working on the correct family. There are however complications, the further back in time that you go, the more often you will find that the mother is not listed (in some areas this happens in records from before 1750, other areas before 1700). Sometimes this is still not a problem if there are witnesses to the baptismal of the child.
People researching records in the Netherlands have a great advantage over other countries. In a great many areas baptismal are witnessed by grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings. In some cases the relationship is stated right in the records. For example, Noordeloos, Zuid-Holland, Claas Herberts (Rietveld) and Hilligje Cornelis (van den Dool) have children Daniel, Magdaleentje, Cornelis, Herbert, Gerrit and Clasina. The witnesses include Magdaleentje Ariens Broer, grandmother (mother's mother), Herbert Pleunen Rietveld, father's father and Cornelis Pieters van den Dool, mother's father. This gives us the parents of Claas Herberts and Hilligje Cornelis and also verifies the family names. Next time I want to spend a little more time with the problem of no last name and lack of name of spouse.