Since the introduction of the civil registration in 1811, a bride and groom had to submit several documents to prove they were eligible to get married. Not only do these records tell you when your ancestors were born, but they may also provide information about their physical appearance, death dates of parents and previous spouses or even of their grandparents. These documents are known as the ‘Huwelijksbijlagen‘ and most of them still exist and can be found online.
Contents of the marriage supplements
A typical set of marriage supplements contains at the very minimum:
- Certified extract of the birth record of the groom
- Certified extract of the birth record of the bride
- National Militia certificate stating that the groom fulfilled his military duties. This document should include information about whether or not the groom served in the military, and if not, the reason why. This document also sometimes includes a physical description. Common reasons to be excused were that his number did not come up, physical disabilities, only son of a widow or having two brothers who already served. If he did serve, his regiment is sometimes listed, which makes it possible to find his military records at the National Archives.
Other documents that are often encountered as marriage supplements:
- Certified extract of a death records of a parent
- Notarized parental consent by an absent parent
- Certified extract of a death record of a previous spouse
- Certificate of insolvency, saying the bride and groom were too poor to pay the marriage dues.
- Certificate stating that the announcements took place without opposition in another town (if one of the spouses lived in a different municipality than where the marriage took place).
If both parents were deceased, the supplements may contain the death records of the grandparents.
If a required birth or death record did not exist anymore (for example because it burned or it took place before those records were kept), a notarized statement by witnesses (usually four) had to be submitted.
How to find marriage supplements
The whole set of supplements for a marriage record is filed at the provincial archives, but are now available online at Familysearch.org. The records are organized by municipality, year and marriage record number. To find this information, you first need to find the marriage record. Once you have that, you can retrieve the set of marriage supplements on Familysearch.org:
- Go to Zoekakten.nl, a website with a convenient overview of all civil registration records of the Netherlands and Belgium
- Select the province
- Select the municipality you are looking for.
- Select “Huwelijksbijlagen” [marriage supplements] from the “Burgerlijke stand” [Civil Registration] list and click “Maak een keuze” [Make a choice].
- Click the link Huw-bijl. xxxx-xxxx [Huwelijksbijlagen = marriage supplements] link for the appropriate period. Some municipalities come with an index link, if so, click this for a deeplink to the right year. This will take you to an image set on Familysearch.org.
- Browse the image set until you find the images you are looking for.
Sometimes the record numbers are displayed on every image, sometimes on a cover page. Marriage supplements of one marriage can run from 3 pages (military record plus two birth records) up to dozens of pages so finding a cover page can require some browsing.
Example: marriage supplements of Berend Gussinklo and Harmina Fukkink
Berend Gussinklo and Harmina Fukkink were married in Aalten on 27 October 1821. [And yes, that really was her name!]
Their marriage supplements contained the following documents:
- Extract of baptism register of Aalten, stating that Berend, son of Jan en Berendeken Gussinklo, was born on 14 August 1773 and baptized 22 August of that year.
- Extract of baptism register of Aalten, stating that Harmina, daughter of Lammert Fukkink and Johanna Vossers, was born in Aalten on 20 September 1772 and baptized 27 September of that year.
- Extract of the death record, stating that Harmina Kappers, wife of Berend Gussinklo, died in Aalten on 8 June 1819.
- Declaration before public notary Arnoldus Florentinus Roelvink at the request of Berend Gussinklo, by Jan Willem Doornink, farmer, 86; Jan Izak Huinink, land owner, 83; Willem Rudolph Evers, land owner, 81; and Derk Gijsbert Rots, land owner, 70, that they knew Jan Gussinklo, farmer, the father of the requester, and that they know that he died and was buried in Aalten about 40 years ago.
- Exract of death record of Barentje Gussinklo, age 82, died in Vleuten, Utrecht, on 18 December 1812.
- Extract of death record, stating that Garrit Jan ten Hietbrink, day laborer, husband of Harmina Fukking, died in Aalten on 15 November 1821.
- Extract of death record, stating that Lammert Fukking, farmer in Dale, widower of Janna Vossers, died in Aalten on 25 January 1820.
- Extract of register of death and burials of Aalten, stating that Janna Vossers, wife of L. te Kolste, died on 22 December 1807 and was buried the 24th of that month.
- Extract of the register of buried corpses of Varsseveld, stating that Gart Vossers died on 11 July 1767 and buried the 15th of that month.
- Extract of the register of buried corpses of Varsseveld, stating that Gart Vosters wife, died on 26 May 1760 and buried the 29th of that month.
- Extract of a list of 22 persons, who do not have to perform any military duties on account of their married or widowed state, that includes Berend Gussinklo.
This set is a great example of the amount of information you can find in a set of marriage supplements. Not only do we now know the birth dates and places of the spouses, we also know the names of their parents and know where and when they died. There are several pieces of information in this record that would have been hard to find otherwise:
- It is very unusual for a woman from Aalten to die in Vleuten in Utrecht, half a country away. Without this reference from the marriage supplements, the date and place of death of Barentje Gussinklo, Berend’s mother, would probably have remained a mystery. We can now do research in Vleuten to see if we can find evidence that she lived there. It is possible that she was visiting relatives, so that is something else to look out for.
- Berend’s father, Jan Gussinklo, died before deaths and burials were registered. We now have an approximate year of death (about 1780), although these witness statements tend to be very inaccurate.
- Burial records usually only have very succinct references to people. Since there were often many people who went by the same name, it can be hard to find out which entry refers to your ancestor. The extracts from the burial books/registers of buried corpses provide direct evidence to show when Harmina’s first husband and parents died. Additional research is needed to verify if this is the correct person, since sometimes the clerk that was pulling the extract just copied the first person by that name that he found.
How to use the information in the marriage supplements
Most of the information in the marriage supplements is derivative information, and not as reliable as the original. Transcription errors may have been introduced, and the original may contain more information, so if possible you should check the original. Since the extracts already include the specific registers, places and dates, finding the original is usually pretty straightforward.
When to search for marriage supplements
Marriage supplements were introduced in 1811 (or slightly earlier in Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen) and are public until 1932. Since they are such a rich use of information, I advise you to always pull the marriage supplements if you find a marriage record in the civil registration period.
Here are some examples of circumstances where they are especially useful:
- When you’re dealing with lost records, like the church records that were burned in Zeeland during World War II. The marriage supplements may contain extracts of documents that have not survived.
- When you’re dealing with people who are (re)married late in life, and their final marriage took place shortly after the civil registration was introduced in 1811. The supplements may provide information about their parents or grandparents that cannot be found elsewhere.
- If you already know that both parents of one of the spouses are dead. You could find death records of their parents or grandparents or consent forms by guardians/orphanages that give you some idea of where they grew up.
Dutch Genealogy source score
Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
Amount of background information about your ancestors
Online availability of scans
Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch