Dutch term – failliet and faillissement

workers in a factory hall

Failliet means bankrupt; faillissement means bankruptcy. You can often find announcements of bankruptcies in newspapers, and you can then find the corresponding court case in the court records in the provincial archives. These may give you an insight in the business relationships of your ancestor. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Oudoom and Oudtante

My great-aunt, Riet Flooren, as a child

An oudoom is a great-uncle, an oudtante is a great-aunt; siblings of your grandparents. The literal translations are "old uncle" and "old aunt," respectively. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dief

Woman robbed of her purse

A dief is a thief. You may found out that your ancestor was a thief, or the victim of a thief, in newspapers, court records, prison records or police records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Wees

A statue of a man and a woman next to the crest of Zeeland

A wees is an orphan. Sometimes you will see the term halfwees [half orphan] or volle wees [full orphan] to refer to a child who lost one or both parents, respectively. While the term wees is nowadays used for a child who lost both parents, in earlier times it could be used for a child who lost one parent. You will see references like "Jan, orphan … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kiesrecht

Women in traditional costume in a voting booth.

Kiesrecht means suffrage, the right to vote in political elections. In the Netherlands, the first democratic elections were held in 1795, but only a men owning property over a certain value were allowed to vote. It wasn't until 1917 that the right to vote was granted to all men, and women followed two years later. Voter registration records of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Drost

portrait of a corpulent young man

A drost or drossaard was a sheriff, someone who governed a region or town on behalf of the landlord. Some drosten required their subjects to provide special services to him, like feed his horse or do chores twice a year. These were sometimes called drostendiensten (sheriff's services). These services were a relict of feudal regulation in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Koekoeksgraad

painting of a Dutch cuckoo

I first heard the word Koekoeksgraad last week and liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you. Koekoeksgraad means "degree of cuckoos," the degree of non-paternity events per generation. I first heard the term in a presentation by forensic DNA expert Maarten Larmuseau, in a Youtube recording of his presentation about using Y-chromosomes … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Schoonmoeder

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

A schoonmoeder is a mother-in-law. In older documents, the term is also sometimes used for stepmother (another type of mother-by-marriage). … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Akte van Bekendheid

Woman testifying before a judge

An akte van bekendheid is a record of knowledge, usually a statement by four witnesses who all testify about the truth of something. For example, when people got married after 1811, they had to submit extracts of their birth records and sometimes also extracts of the death records of their parents, former spouses and even grandparents (in the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Horige

farm and shed

A horige is a serf or villain, an un-free farmer who was bound to the land. Serfdom started in the Middle Ages. In most parts of the Netherlands, it was abolished by the 1500s. In some parts, like the eastern parts of Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, a diluted form of serfdom continued until the French occupation of 1795. Rights and duties of … [Read more...]