English versions of Dutch last names

When Dutch people arrived in the United States or other English-speaking countries, often their names got changed. This was either done on purpose, to make the name easier to write and remember, or by accident because the clerk didn’t know how to spell the name and wrote it down phonetically. For this reason, a single family name can often be found in many different spellings in different documents.

This article gives an overview of the types of changes that names underwent and also gives a list of English versions of Dutch last names. This list is not complete and even for the names that are listed, chances are that many people with those names used even more exotic variants as well.

Common changes

Some of the Dutch names follow a predictable pattern when turned into English:

  • Prefixes often get stuck to the name: ten Pas becomes Tenpas, de Jong becomes Dejong.
  • Names ending in -ink sometimes change to -ing: Abbink becomes Abbing, Lansink becomes Lansing.
  • V becomes F or PH: Veenhuis becomes Feenhouse, Vink becomes Fink or Phink.
  • -kk- becomes -ck-: Blekkink to Bleckink.
  • An open -e- becomes -a-: Resink to Rasink, Menink to Manink
  • -els becomes -les: Wubbels becomes Wubbles.
  • Parts of the name that are a noun are translated: -huis becomes -house, -kamp becomes -camp. For example ‘Nijenhuis’ becomes ‘Newhouse’.
  • Names derived from occupations get translated: Bakker becomes Baker, Kuiper becomes Cooper, Konings becomes King.

List of Americanizations

This list gives Dutch names and spellings of those Dutch names as encountered in American documents.

Dutch last name English last name
Aarnink, Arning Arnink
Bargerbos Baggebos
Bekerink Beckerink
Brethouwer Brethower
Brusse Bruce
Buiel Boyle
Damkot Damcott
Demkes Demkis
de Groot DeGroat, DeGroot
Deetman Deitman
Esselinkpas Pas
Fukkink Fern (for obvious reasons), Foking
Gerritsen Garrison
Gijsbers Gysbers, Cysbers
Glieuwen Glewen, Gluen
Goudswaard Houseworth
Greupink Gruepink, Gropink
Grevink Gravink
Hengeveld Hengfeld, Hangrifelt
Hoftijzer Hofterrie, Hoftiezer
Kappers Kappas
Kastein Cartine, Kastien
Kempink Camping
Klompenhouwer Klompenhower
Klumpers Klumpas
Koffers Covers, Covis
Kolstee Coulstay
Konings King
Kortschot Croscut, Cortschot, Crosscut, Croscutt, Koskoty
Kots Coth
Leemkuil, Lemkuil Lemkuel, Lemkuhl, Leemkuel
Legters Lichtus, Ligters
Lohuis Lowhouse
Luikenhuis Lookenhouse, Luikenhouse
Luimes Lomis, Loomis
Meenk Mink, Minks
Meerdink Meijerdink, Meyerdink
Meinen, Meijnen Minon, Mina
Navis Navie, Nabies
Nekkers Neckers
Nieuwenhuis, Nijenhuis Newhouse
Obelink, Oberink Obrink, Obering, O’Brink
Pekaar, Pikaar Pikaart
Piek Pike
Ramaker, Rademaker Ramaker, Reymaker
Reessink Rasink, Resink, Ressink
Reusselink Reslink
Roerdink Rordink
Roerdinkveldboom Veldboom
Rospas Raspas
Schreurs Skewers, Scheurs, Schruis, Schruers
Sleijster, Sleister Gluster, Sluster
Smid Smith
Stapelkamp Stablecamp, Stapelcamp, Staplecamp
te Grotenhuis Te Grotenhouse, TeGrotenhouse, Grotenhouse
te Kolstee, te Kolste TaKolste, Kolste, TeKolste, TeKolstee
te Kulve Teculver, TeKulve
ten Bokkel Tenbuckel, Tembokkel, Buckle
ten Broek Broek
ten Hulsen tenHulsen, tenHulzen, tenHuisen
ten Pas Tempas
ter Horst TerHarst, TerHast
van Albeslo Armslow
Varding, Vardink Fardink
Veenendaal Fendaal
Veenhuis Fainhouse, Fanehouse, Vainhouse
Veldboom Felboom
Vervelde Ver Velde, VerVelde, Felton
Vink Fink, Phink
Walvoort Walvoord, Welfoort, Walfort
Welhuis, Welhuizen Wellhouse, Willhouse
Woordes Wordes
Wubbels Wibbell, Wubbell, Wubbells, Wubbel, Wubble, Wubbles
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for 20 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Comments

  1. Joseph Feduniewicz says:

    Hello,
    I am trying to find out more about my dutch ancestors (last name is Hanshe). My 4th Great Grandfather named Henry Hanshe lived in New York City in 1795 and I don’t know if he was born there or immigrated sometime during the 18th century but I do know his ancestors were from the Netherlands. If this helps, his wife’s name was Catherine. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Joseph,

      I would advise you to collect as much information about your brick wall and his family, associates and neighbors and work back from there. The 1870 census lists parents’ birthplaces, so be sure to collect the 1870 and later census records for all his children to see what they tell about his place of birth. Other records such as Henry Hanshe or his wife’s probate records or obituaries may also provide additional information about their origins, as could their children’s obituaries.

      How do you know his ancestors were from the Netherlands? Do you have contemporary sources to confirm that or is it a family story? Hanshe is not a Dutch name. If I pronounce it in English, it sounds like the Dutch first name “Hansje,” a diminutive form of “Hans,” which is short for “Johannes” or John in English. Family stories often have some truth in them but get distorted as generations go by. For example, it may well have been Catherine who had the Dutch roots instead of Henry. I would advise you to keep an open mind about his ethnicity until you find reliable evidence.

  2. Colt Holland says:

    What tips do you have for someone without any background info? I know that my family came from the Netherlands, but I don’t have any documents or any info but my name. Do you know if it was changed?

    • I agree with you that the name Holland suggests that your family is from the Netherlands, but the name “Holland” could easily have been a geographical name elsewhere as well. The Dutch name “Holland” comes from “holt-land,” woodland. It’s not hard to imagine that names like that occurred independently over Western Europe, for example from “hollow land” or “holy land.” The name Holland is pretty common in England as well; it may be that these people came from Holland but I wouldn’t be surprised if their name was derived from an independently created geographical name.

      The best way to find out where your family name comes from is to research your direct male line backwards to find the first person who used the name. That should give you an indication of whether he was from the Netherlands or not.

  3. Gill Batchelor says:

    Hello, my GGGrandfather Jon Rodemark / RODEMARKER born between 1806-1812 came to England between 1840-1850 and settled, he gave his birth place as South Lembritcht, Holland.
    His father’s name noted on the marriage certificate was Henry.
    Grateful if you could give some advice where to start searching please.

    • Hi Gill,

      South Lembritcht is not a place name in the Netherlands. Do you have an image copy of the original document that had this name? It may be worthwhile to double check it to see if there was a transcription error. Of course, the clerk may have transcribed what he heard. There is a village called Limbricht in Limburg, but that’s a small village for which it doesn’t make sense to refer to the southern portion.

      The name Rodemarker or Rodemark isn’t a Dutch name either. There are a few people named Rodemaker, mostly in the province of Groningen. See WieWasWie and search for Rodema*k.

      The best advice I can give you is to first find out more in English records. What if any spelling variations did he use for his name? What were his children’s names (often they were named after grandparents)? What information did his death certificate or probate records give about place of origin or family members? What was his occupation?

      • Gill Batchelor says:

        Hi Yvette,
        The only clue to his origins was from the English census and I doubt if the writer had ever heard of the place name. I was wondering if his surname should have been Rademakers or similar ?His surname was spelt differently on each census until the family finally settled on the spelling Rodemark. He was a basket maker but there are family stoties that he was a shipwrecked sailor. His first daughter was called Christiana and first son Thomas.

        • The name could have been Rademaker (meaning: wheelmaker). Because it was an occupational name, the last name Rademaker occurs in different places in the Netherlands. The Rademaker emigrants I’ve researched came from Gelderland and emigrated after 1845.

          Do you know their religion? If they are from Limburg, if my suggestion about Limbrecht is correct, they would most likely have been Catholic.

  4. Keith Kooistra says:

    Examples of surname changes in my family include:
    - Vedders (sometimes found as Fedders)
    - Knijft became Knyfd
    - Van Keimpema became Kempema
    - Klein Rooseboom became Rosenboom.

    My father’s ancestors immigrated to Iowa in the mid 1800′s when the land was unclaimed. Most of those families did not change the spellings if their names because the population was largely Dutch speaking immigrants.

    My mother’s ancestors immigrated to New Jersey, a densely populated area of mixed nationalities. Many of them “Americanized” their first and last names.

    • My Dutch ancestors also immigrated to Iowa in the mid 1800s. They Americanized Van Cruijningen to Cunningham.

  5. I didn’t Know the Pyke surname came for the Surname Piek, that’s pretty intresting.

  6. I know there some people named Piek went by the name Pyke in the US, but that does not mean that all people named Pyke derived their names from Piek. To find out where your name came from, I recommend you research your family until you find your immigrant ancestor.

  7. Jerri Rudloff says:

    I have an early New Netherlands ancestor referred to as Pieter Luyster and one of the islands off the coast was called “Luyster Island”…some of his descendants continued that surname, but mine is listed as Lester. I’ve been told two versions: one that they were English “Lesters” and Luyster is the Dutch version for records etc…or that they were Dutch “Luysters” but my branch anglicized it to Lester…Is there any to determine which explanation that may be? thanks Jerri

    • The best way to find the origin of any name is to trace it to the first known person who used it. Do you know where Pieter Luyster came from? The name Luyster or Luijster (which would be its Dutch spelling) are not in use today anymore. The name Van de Luijster is, but it is very rare. Without additional research into your immigrant ancestor, I can’t tell you whether the English or the Dutch origin is more likely.

      • Jerri Rudloff says:

        I appreciate the reply. In the interim I heard from another descendant who posted an article written by a Luyster descendant and a Cert. Genealogist. He states that Pieter arrived New Neth. In 1656 with the patronymic of Pieter Cornelis/Cornelisse…and when the English took over and requested Dutch inhabitants adopt a more English sounding surname, Luyster was what Peter chose…he notes as you do, that there is no ‘y’ in Dutch and it was close to lijster…which he says used to mean “frame” and since Pieters was reputed to be a carpenter, it made sense to him….Pieter married twice: first to Aeltien Tyssen and second to Jennetje Sneedicker presumably Dutch women…Unfortunately no one has any information about where he originated and the frequency of that patronymic makes it seem untraceable without an area to explore, but, I’m inclined to believe he was from the Netherlands…Incidentally I greatkt enjoyed my trip to Leiden/Leyden and Amsterdam a few years ago…Thanks Jerri

        • Great that you have been able to find more information. A ‘lijst’ is a frame, a ‘lijster’ is a bird (thrush). I have never heard the word ‘lijster’ be used for a carpenter. A frame maker would be a ‘lijstemaker.’ Do you know if Pieter had any children from his first marriage? If so, the orphan chamber may have been involved and orphan chamber records might tell you who the guardians were. Guardians were often relatives.

          • Jerri Rudloff says:

            I appreciate the tip about orphans…. my ancestor Thomas appears to be the only sibling to marry an English person, Dorcas Gildersleeve…the others seem to have married men/women of Dutch extraction..perhaps that led/contributed to his changing from Luyster to Lester…thanks again…Jerri

  8. Virgil Hoftiezer says:

    My Dutch ancestors from Gelderland lived very close to the border with then Prussia and many records were recorded in the Catholic church records in German (or Latin) and often the ‘K’ at the end of the surname was changed to a ‘G’ in those records. Thus it was not only the English who modified Dutch names, and the German spelling occurred before they migrated to the USA.

    Also, would it be possible to clarify the significance of Klein used before a surname. For some of my Dutch families it seemed to be used some times, but not others. Was Klein a standard prefix or part of the surname?

    • “Klein” means “small” or “little.” Klein is not a prefix but a part of the name of a farm. For instance, there is the Klein Hesselink farm. In the east of the Netherlands, people were called after the farm they were lived on. Sometimes, a farm got split up into different farms, or a younger son built a new farm near the old one. Usually, the original farm kept the regular name. Let’s say the original farm was called Hesselink, then the new farm could be called Klein Hesselink (Little Hesselink), Nieuw Hesselink (new Hesselink), Hesselinkshuisje (Hesselink’s small house), Hesselinksschoppe (Hesselink’s shed) and a variety of other names. The people who lived on this new farm would then call themselves after this new farm. However, their name was sometimes shortened to the original name. This could also happen after emigration, where the link to the farm was meaningless. I’ve seen several members of the Klein Hesselink family be called Hesselink in US records.

      • Virgil Hoftiezer says:

        Thank you, Yvette.
        I have the Nibbelink family that lived in/near Spork and that name was spelled a variety of ways in church records, including Klein Nibbling.
        As always there is no better resource than you!

        • You’re welcome! I’ve seen the (Klein) Nibbelink family in records as well. There was even a Nibbelink from Varsseveld on the Phoenix in 1847, who died with his family. I haven’t found out their identity.

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