Dutch term – Soldaat

A soldaat is a soldier, the lowest rank in the army. Before the French occupation, the Netherlands only had a professional army. Soldiers were recruited from all over Europe, bringing many Scots, Swiss and other soldiers to the country. Conscription for men between the ages of 20 and 45 was introduced in 1810. It was suspended in 1997, though … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gemeentehuis

The Gemeentehuis (house of the municipality) or raadhuis (house of the council) is the town hall. In civil registration records, you will often encounter the gemeentehuis as the place where births, marriages and deaths were recorded. Civil marriages often take place at town hall. It also houses the offices of the mayor, municipal council and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Plakkaat van Verlatinghe

The Plakkaat van Verlatinghe was the act whereby the Estates General of the Netherlands abjured their overlord, King Philip II of Spain, on 26 July 1581. This record is considered to be the birth record of the country of the Netherlands, similar to the Declaration of Independence in the United States. The original is in Spanish hands, as it was … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Boelgoed

Boelgoed is an estate sale. The term is typical for the northern provinces of Friesland and Groningen. Estate sales were often organized by a notary who oversaw the public auction of movable goods. The sale was usually held at the house of the owner. You will typically find a boelgoed after somebody died, or before emigration. If the boelgoed … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Overboord

Overboord means "overboard," in the literal sense of going over the side of the ship. It is one of many Dutch nautical terms that made its way into English. In death records or newspaper articles, you may sometimes find that your ancestor was overboord geslagen [went overboard] and drowned. Example: Gerrit Engels Mooi Abstract: Harlingen, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Uithangbord

An uithangbord is a sign hanging from the façade of a building. Many businesses had one. It served as advertising and as a form of address: people often referred to a house by the sign that hung from it. In old court records, you can sometimes find references to these signs, for example in phases like ". . . sells his inn at the Achterstraat, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Postbode

A postbode is a mail man. For large parts of the 1800s and 1900s, the government controlled the delivery of the mail and mail men were civil servants. You can find their personnel and pension records at the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Who Else had that Rare Name?

As you probably know, Dutch children were usually named after family members. If one of your brick wall ancestors had an unusual name, or gave one of their children an unusual name, it might be worthwhile to look who else in the community shared that name. You can then investigate that person's family to see if your brick wall ancestors fits in … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Regest

A regest is an abstract of a record, usually of a medieval charter. Many archives provide regesten of their oldest records, which are often in Latin and in a handwriting that is hard to read to modern eyes. You can find regesten at the websites of archives, or in published oorkondenboeken (charter books). See the article about Oorkonde (charter) … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Family Relationships

This diagram shows you the Dutch terms for the most common family relationships. In practice, we don't use the more distant relationships than achterneef/achternicht; we just call them "verre neef" or "verre nicht" [distant cousin]. … [Read more...]