The Basics: A Guide

The Basics: A Guide is a super comprehensive guide to researching your Dutch genealogy. This far-reaching expose on family ties will provide you with tips and details on how to find your Dutch roots. The author, Tony Hofstee is a contributing editor to the Windmill Herald.

Table of Contents

The Basics: A Guide

Chapter 11

Local Dutch string names a genealogical record

The last time I reported that the lack of marriage registers prior to 1712 could be a problem when researching Dutch genealogical sources. The problem of the mother's name missing is one that is not easily solved. If the husband has a last name there is no problem (except that you would like to have the wife's name as well). However, if the husband has no surname and only uses his patronymic then you have a problem.

A patronymic name means that you have your given name as your first name and your father's given name as your last name, usually with a form of the letter "s" attached, for example, in my case I would be Anthony Jacobs, Anthony my given name, Jacob my father's given name. Jacobs also can appear as Jacobssen, Jacobse, Jacobszn (zn being the short form in Dutch for son), etc. I have seen some cases where three or four of these names have been strung together thereby giving you three or four generations on the father's side.

There are many examples of this in Aalsmeer in Noord-Holland.

One of my forebears was Willem Cornelis Jaep Neelfloren, Willem is his given name, his father is Cornelis, his grandfather Jaep (Jacob), his great-grandfather Neel (Cornelis) and his great-great-grandfather Floor (Floris). Such a name is not a problem when doing research, however a name such as Jan Jans can be a problem. In Zuid-Holland, Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe, etc. the name Jan is very common. You can imagine the problem when you are faced with three or four Jan Jans in one small community and not knowing the name of the wife. Your only hope are the witnesses to the christenings. Usually you can separate the one Jan Jans from the others by the names of the witnesses. If there are no witnesses then the situation is hopeless. Even having witnesses is not a guarantee of success. I have a Jan Jans coming from Overbeek in Gelderland and whose children's christenings are witnessed by various people but thus far I have been unable to pinpoint him in Overbeek, there are just too many Jans born to a Jan and the witnesses were no help.

We can be grateful that Napoleon came along and tried to help all the future genealogists in their search for family roots. I will deal with the importance of Napoleon and the French in my next column.