Dutch term – Koekoeksgraad

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

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

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

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...]

Dutch Term – Stamreeks

A stamreeks is a pedigree that follows just one line of ancestors, usually the male line. In most cases, this will trace the last name. Other variations trace the female line only, or follow the last name even if it is descended from a woman (in the case of an illegitimate child or farm name). A stamreeks can be in a narrative format or in chart … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Graf

A graf is a grave. In the Netherlands today, burials take place in special cemeteries, often at the outskirts of towns. Before 1827, most people would have been buried in or around the church. Read how graves are routinely cleared after several decades, and check out these Dutch alternatives to Find a Grave to see if your ancestors' graves … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Aanzegger

An aanzegger is a person who goes to inform neighbors and friends that someone has died. Traditionally, aanzeggen was done by a close neighbor, but in some regions it became custom to hire someone for the task. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Vonnis

A vonnis is a verdict by a court. You can find vonnissen in court records, which are mostly not available online. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Heks

A heks is a witch. Witch trials were held in the Middle Ages and lasted until the 17th century. In modern Dutch, a heks is typically female, but in the past, the word was used for men as well. If you were accused of witchcraft, one defense would be that you were too heavy to fly on a broom. Since 1545, people could go to the heksenwaag (witches' … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Gilde

A gilde was a guild, an organization of people of the same occupation in a certain town or region. Guilds were since the Middle Ages and some of them continued to operate until around 1800, when the French made an end to their monopolies. Most guilds had rules about admittance and training. Apprentices or gezellen could only become full members … [Read more...]