Dutch term – Beste kleed

In burial records, you will sometimes see the reference to the “beste kleed” or “slechtste kleed.” To someone unfamiliar with Dutch or using an automatic translator, that may look like somebody was buried in their best or worst clothes, but in fact the term refers to the lijkkleed or burial pall. The “beste kleed” was the best and most expensive pall. The “slechtste kleed” was the worst and cheapest pall.

Many burial records were created as account books, to keep track of the income from burials. The way people were buried was heavily class-dependent: the location of the grave, the number of bells rung to announce the service, the quality of the pall, et cetera. The accounts sometimes recorded these details to keep track of the burial fees.

funeral cortege

Funeral of Michiel de Ruyter, a naval admiral. Credits: Jan Luyken, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Louisa Braal Tabatabai says

    Thank you Yvette for this interesting article. I would have never known, even though I am originally from the Netherlands and emigrated to America 60 years ago. I am researching my maternal ( from Gorinchem and Feluy, Belgium) and paternal ancestors (from Tholen) and am impressed how many records are publicly available. I joined WikiTree and am updating information there with the help of Joop van Belzen.

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