Dutch term – Naastingsrecht

Town crier

Naastingsrecht was the right to have the first option of buying a property. Whenever a property was sold, a person who had naastingsrecht could match the purchase price and buy the property for himself, cancelling the original sale. Different parts of the Netherlands had different variations of this right. In most regions, next of kin had … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Weesmeester

Jacob Gerritsz van der Mij, orphan master in Leiden. Image credits: Geheugen van Nederland

A weesmeester was a government official charged with overseeing the administration of the estates of orphans. They were usually appointed by the city government. Weesmeesters worked for the Weeskamer. Read the article about Weeskamers for more information. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – slager

butcher cleaving the meat

A slager is a butcher. An old term for slager is 'vleeshouwer' or 'vleeschhouwer' (literally: meat cleaver). Poor people did not often eat meat. One of the recurring themes in letters written by emigrants to the United States is their surprise that everyone is able to afford eating meat. These 'spekbrieven' [bacon letters] are one of the reasons … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Poorter

Row of books with names of poorters

A poorter was a burgher or freeman of a chartered town. Being a poorter conveyed several privileges: Guild membership was often limited to poorters Poorters often were exempt from paying tolls Being a poorter was a requirement for many public offices People could become poorters by being born to a poorter, by marrying a poorter's … [Read more...]

Case study – the origins of Jan Dirkse van Eps

Map of Amsterdam

One of my clients asked me to research the origins of her Dutch colonial ancestor, Jan Dirkse van Eps. She graciously allowed me to share the research I did for her on my website, to make it available to other Van Eps descendants. As this article is based on the research report I wrote for her, it will also give you an insight into my work process … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Echtscheiding

The neglected wife encourages her husband to sort himself out

Echtscheiding (or scheiding) is the Dutch name for divorce. Up until the last part of the 20th century, divorce was pretty rare in the Netherlands. There are several ways to find out if a couple got divorced. The most common one is to look in the margins of the marriage record, where the divorce will be noted. The divorce will also be recorded … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Koopman

Etching of a merchant

A koopman was a merchant, with the plural being kooplieden. Kooplieden could trade in all sorts of goods, ranging from spices from the Far East, timber from the Baltic or fur from the Americas. Others traded in domestic products like grain, cloth or glassware. One of the nice things about having a koopman in your tree is that they left much … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Familieberichten

Marriage announcement of H.J. Kastein and E.J.E. de Monye

Familieberichten are family announcements, ads people placed in the newspaper to inform the readers of births, marriages or death. They are often less informative than obituaries but can help to provide background information and serve as illustrations. Read more about family announcements. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Overspel

woman and man sitting secretively in an inn

Overspel is the Dutch word for adultery. Depending on the period, adultery was not only a private matter, but could be criminally prosecuted. The church council also wanted to find out so that both parties could be censored. One of my own female ancestors was fined for insulting another woman, saying "You are keeping company with my man" and … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Topics in an Archievenoverzicht

Man standing on a ladder in front of stacked boxes

An archival catalog (archievenoverzicht) will give an hierarchical overview of the contents of a repository. Common topics include: Bestuur en Politiek  [Government and politics] Bevolking [Population] Justitie en Rechtspraak [Justice and Court] Openbare orde en veiligheid [Public order and safety] Defensie [Defense] Notariaat … [Read more...]