Quick tip – That Frisian female might be male!

If you do research in Friesland, you will notice that the names there are quite different from the rest of the Netherlands. Friesland has its own language, Frisian (Fries) which comes with its own unique set of names. Some Frisian male names look like female names to those of us who are not from Friesland. Some of these names are used as female … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Most Catholic names end in -us or -a

Catholic records were kept in Latin, while civil registration records are kept in Dutch (or French, depending on the time). But Catholic families often recorded the Latin version of the name as the official version with the civil authorities as well. Latin names often ended in -us (for men) or -a (for women). So a person who was called Petrus … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrant names were often phonetic equivalents

If you're trying to figure out what the original name of your immigrant ancestor was, don't just focus on official translations, but also figure out what names may have sounded the same. For example, a woman named Jessica in Australia may well have been called Tjitske. A man named Dick (short for Richard) in the United States may well have been … [Read more...]

Dutch Genealogy Webinar – Questions about Dutch Names

This is my third post answering the questions asked by viewers of my "Researching Your Dutch Ancestors" webinar. In this post, I will answer questions about Dutch names. What are patronymics? Patronymics are names that are derived from the father's name, like Jansen = son of Jan. In some parts of the Netherlands, people did not  have a hereditary … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Watch out for same-named cousins

Because Dutch children were often named after their grandparents, it is not unusual to find several first cousins with the same name, all named after the same grandparent. Often, these same-named cousins will be of a similar age, which can make it easy to confuse the two (or three, or even more!). When you are trying to identify someone, always … [Read more...]

Quick tip – No middle names

People in the Netherlands did not have 'middle' names. They could have one or more first names, followed by their last name. But even if they had two first names, they would be considered two first names and not a first and a middle name. Before say 1700, most people had just one first name. Afterwards, giving a child multiple first names became … [Read more...]

Dutch term: Neef en Nicht

A neef is a male relative: either a first cousin or a nephew. A nicht is a female relative: either a first cousin or a niece. Like the word 'cousin' in English, the words 'neef' and 'nicht' are sometimes used to describe a more distant relationship. Someone who is referred to as a 'neef,' may turn out to be the husband of a first cousin once … [Read more...]

Quick tip: try spelling variations

Even after the introduction of the civil registration, but especially in earlier records, there may be spelling variations of a name. A woman may be called Elizabeth or Elisabeth, her last name might be written as Jansen or Janssen. Especially since most Dutch search engines only find exact matches, it is important to try different spelling … [Read more...]

Quick tip: there is no letter y in the Dutch alphabet

The Dutch alphabet has a letter ij, not a y. Dutch names with a ij typically get spelled with a y in English, for example Dijkstra/Dykstra, Wijnveen/Wynveen. Next time you're having problems finding a person in a Dutch search engine, check that you've used the Dutch spelling. … [Read more...]

Quick tip: “Van”-names

Many Dutch names start with "Van" (from) like "Van Benthem" (from Bentheim) and "Van den Berg " (From the mountain/hill). Often "Van"-names originated if somebody moved and used his origin to describe who he was. Some people assume that families with "Van"-names are members of the nobility. Although many noble families used "Van"-names (e.g. … [Read more...]