The ten most popular surnames in the Netherlands in 2007 were De Jong, Jansen, De Vries, Van den Berg, Van Dijk, Bakker, Janssen, Visser, Smit and Meijer. More than 5% of the people in the Netherlands had one of these ten last names.
1. De Jong
(86,534 in 2007)
De Jong literally means “The Young”. Often used when two people in the same family had the same first name. The youngest one would be called De Jong, similar to somebody who is called “junior”. Its counterpart, De Oude (the Elder) is a lot more uncommon, which can be explained since the older person was the one who was already known by that name, so the next person with that same name needed a new designation to identify him.
Variants include De Jonge, De Jongh, DeJong and De Iongh. After immigration, the name sometimes got changed to DeJong or DeYoung.
(75,698 in 2007)
Jansen is a patronymic, a name derived from the father’s name, in this case to denote the son of Jan (Dutch version of John). Jansen is the Dutch equivalent of Johnson.
Variations include Jans, Janse, Janssen, Janzen, Janssens and Jansonius (Latinized form). After emigration, the name sometimes got changed to Johnson.
Other common last names that started out as patronymics are Peters (son of Peter), Hendriks (son of Hendrik/Henry), Jacobs (son of Jacob), Gerritsen (son of Gerrit/Garret), Willemsen (son of Willem/William), Hermans (son of Herman), Evers (son of Evert/Everett), Driessen (son of Dries, a form of Andries/Andrew), Wolters (son of Wolter/Walter), Sanders (son of Sander/Alexander).
3. De Vries
(73,152 in 2007)
De Vries means “The Frisian,” somebody from Friesland. In the Middle Ages, the entire coastal region of the Netherlands was known as Friesland, not just the province we know today. In 1811, when Napoleonic laws required everybody to have a hereditary surnames, many Frisians chose the surname De Vries. These were usually people who did not already have a last name but who went by patronymics.
Variations include De Vriese, Devries and De Fries. After immigration, the name often changed to DeVries.
4. Van de Berg / van den Berg / van der Berg
(60,135 in 2007)
These names all mean “From the Mountain”. The word Berg (mountain) is often used to describe locations, often higher grounds. So even though there are no mountains in the Netherlands, there are many topographical locations called Berg. People from these locations called themselves Van den Berg after their place of origin.
Variations include Van den Berge and the latinized version Montanus. After immigration, the spaces were often dropped, turning the name to Vandenberg, VandenBerg or even just Berg. The Frisian form of Van den Berg is Bergsma.
5. Van Dijk
(57,879 in 2007)
A dijk is a dike, so Van Dijk means “From the dike”. The name could also denote somebody from a town that ends with -dijk.
A variant in the Netherlands is Van Dyk. This variant is also the most common version that people used after emigration. Another Americanized version is Van Dyke. The Frisian form of Van Dijk is Dijkstra (Dykstra in the US).
(56,864 in 2007)
A Bakker is a baker, so he first person who took this name probably had this occupation.
Variations include Backer, De Bakker, Bakkers, Bekker and Bekkers. Immigrants named Bakker to English-speaking countries often changed their name to Baker.
Other common surnames derived from occupations are Visser (fisherman, see nr. 8), Smit or Smits (blacksmith, see nr. 9), Mulder (miller), Brouwer (brewer), Kuiper, Kuijpers or Kuipers (cooper), De Boer (the farmer), Schipper (scipper) Timmermans (carpenter) and Snijder (tailor).
(55,394 in 2007)
This is a variation of Jansen (see nr. 2), meaning son of Jan (John).
(50,929 in 2007)
A Visser is a fisherman. Like Bakker (see nr. 6), Visser is a name derived from an occupation.
Variations include Vissers, Visscher and Visschers. After emigration, many people named Visser called themselves Fisher.
(43,498 in 2007)
A Smid (old spelling: Smit) is a blacksmith. Like Bakker (nr. 6) and Visser (nr. 8), this name is derived from an occupation.
Variations include De Smit, De Smid, Smid, Smidt, Smith, Smits and Smitstra. Emigrants called Smit often called themselves Smith after emigration.
10. Meijer / Meyer
(41,497 in 2007)
In some regions, a Meijer or Meyer was the farmer who represented the landlord of feudal estates. The function evolved over time but often involved collecting the harvests, overseeing the farmers or advising the lord about customs.
This last name originated in the eastern part of the Netherlands, where feudal estates with serfs had meijers who oversaw them. This can still be seen on the distribution map: the name mainly occurs in Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, plus the provinces in the west where many people migrated to since the medieval period.
Variations include Meijers, Meijerink, Hofmeijer (hof = court, manor) and Nijmeijer (nij = new). After immigration, people called Meijer often called themselves Meyer or Meyers.