Ask Yvette – Am I related to Rembrandt van Rijn?

After I wrote about my “great-aunt” Hendrickje Stoffels, the mistress of Rembrandt van Rijn, several people named Van Rijn have asked me if they could be descended from Rembrandt. The short answer? Sorry, no.

Here’s why.

Rembrandt van Rijn had one lawful wife: Saskia van Uylenburgh. They had only one child who survived childhood: Titus van Rijn. Titus married in 1668 and died the same year, though not before getting his wife pregnant. His posthumously born daughter Titia married, but apparently did not have any children.

Titus, by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. Credits: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Titus, by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn. Credits: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

With his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels, Rembrandt had a daughter Cornelia, out of wedlock. Cornelia van Rijn married and had two children, both of whom died young.

So although Rembrandt had children and grandchildren, he apparently did not have any great-grandchildren. This means he does not have any living descendants today.

You could be related through his brother Adriaan though, or one of Rembrandt’s uncles. Or your family could be an unrelated family who happened to call themselves after the same river (Van Rijn = from the Rhine).

Do you have Van Rijn ancestors? Any connection to the famous painter?

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Yvette, I am very impressed by your r e search and wonder if you can fill in a name for me connected with Hendrickje Stoffels. Apparently she and Rembrandt visited Bredevoort in 1649 for the christening of the child of her friend, Lysbeth. Do you know Lysbeth’s surname, the child’s name or her married name?
    I would be most interested. Kath Hastings, Brisbane, Australia.
    PS, I recently visited Bredevoort in June this year.

    • Hi Kath,

      The child was Geertruijt, daughter of Thomas ten Vliete and his wife Lijsbeth, who was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church of Bredevoort in July 1649. Witnesses were Henrick Praesten, Hendricxken Jegers and Sara van den Heuvel named Phijlet. There are several joint appearances of the Ten Vliete and Jegers/Stoffels family which suggests a relationship. I don’t know any sources that state that Lijsbeth and Hendrickje Stoffels were friends though, I think a family relationship is more likely. I don’t know Lijsbeth’s maiden name.

      I attended the Hendrickje Stoffels and Bredevoort seminar in 2006, which had lecturers including well-known Rembrandt scholar Ernst van de Wetering. He was unconvinced that Rembrandt actually accompanied Hendrickje to Bredevoort. As I pointed out during the conference, Bredevoort was in ruins after the 1646 explosion of the gunpowder tower. A 1649 tax list shows most houses getting reduced tax because they were demolished or severely damaged. For an artist who loved ruins as much as Rembrandt, he would undoubtedly have made several drawings or paintings had he been there.

      Personally, I don’t even think that Hendrickje was in Bredevoort herself. In other church records, I’ve seen notices that people stood in for absent godparents, which shows that you could be a godparent without being present at the time of the baptism. In Bredevoort, none of these stand-ins are recorded. Since I don’t think the actual practice would be different than in the other churches, it may well be that Hendrickje was the godmother of the child, even though she wasn’t actually present for the birth. Bredevoort was very remote. She would have had to sail across the South Sea, taken a river ship to Zutphen and then a coach to Winterswijk and then to Bredevoort. That would easily have been a several-day-trip, not something undertaken lightly.

  2. Victor Mobley says

    Just stumbled across this site. My mother is a Van Rijn. My uncle tells of a story of my grandfather visiting Holland after they had moved to Canada and getting to see Rembrandt’s death certificate.

  3. Stumbled across this as well. My mothers grandfather was a Van Rijn before it was changed to Van Ryan when he immigrated to the US. There was always speculation of some relation to Rembrandt, though no one ever claimed to be direct descendants.

  4. Our family are decendents of Adriaen van Rijn

    • Stefanie says

      An idea where I can find the family tree of Adriaen van Rijn?

      • Deb van der Holst says

        I’m not sure if it’s the same person, but I have a Cornelis Ariens van Rijn in my family tree born 1595. Not sure if it would be Rembrandt’s brother or not? He had a son Adriaen Cornelis born 1635 died 1683. Not sure what Rembrandt’s parents names were, but I believe Cornelis’ parents’ names were Aryen and Neeltje nee Vranckend.

    • Deb van der Holst says

      My father’s mother was Adriana Clasina Sophia van Rijn, born in 1901. Perhaps we are related?

  5. Richard VanRyn says

    My Great Grand father’s name was Gradus vanRyn who emigrated from the Netherlands and settled in Faribault MN. USA. Was he any relation to Rembrandt’s family? Thank you

  6. Russell Clarke says

    This is very interesting. My mother’s maiden name was van rijn. My mother’s side have lived all their lives in Leiden too. My Grandad was born in Leiden in 1923.

    Everyone has passed away now unfortunately.

    I have my father’s surname which is not as nice as van rijn.

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