Source – Baptismal record

Oudenbosch in 1739

Before 1811, baptismal records are the main source for information about an ancestor's birth date. Baptismal records should have been kept since the Trente council of 1545-1563, but for most areas they only survive since the early to mid 1600s. Most children were baptized within days of being born. In some churches, children were baptized the … [Read more...]

The illegitimate, doubly baptized, incestuous orphan

St. Martinus Church, Venlo

Sometimes you read records and you wonder how much bad luck one person can handle. While doing research for a client I came across the following baptism in a transcription of the Roman-Catholic baptismal records for Venlo in 1750-1760:1 1751 13 november Anna Elisabetha conditionaliter rebaptizata est filia spuria Andreae Ketels et … [Read more...]

How soon after birth were children baptized?

The baptism of William V of Orange, 1748

In response to the article about the word dopen (baptisms), Tore Langholm asked: Has “baptism” always/usually been equivalent to “infant baptism” in the Netherlands? I just found a record of a baptism in the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk in July of 1698, and wonder if I can assume that this is also the childs’ birth year? … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Dopen

Baptismal font from Leur, Noord-Brabant

The Dutch word dopen means baptisms or to baptize. Doopboeken (baptize books) are the main source for birth information prior to the introduction of the civil registration (in 1811 for most of the Netherlands but as early as 1796/1797 for Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen). … [Read more...]

Quick tip: know the witnesses

Baptism in Flanders, 18th century

Understanding who the witnesses in records were can help you find your ancestors. Baptism witnesses were usually chosen from the immediate family, often from siblings of the parents. Witnesses or informants for death records, on the other hand, were often neighbors. Knowing these customs can help you understand who these people were and how they … [Read more...]