Quick tip: surnames database

The Meertens Instituut (Institute) has a database of surnames in the Netherlands where you can search for a name to get a map that shows where people by that name lived in 1947 and 2007. This can be a great way to find out where in the Netherlands your ancestors may have come from, as many names are specific to a certain area. The example shows that the Hoitink name was most common in the eastern part of the Netherlands. This matches my genealogical research, that proved that the family … [Read more...]

Top 10 most common Dutch surnames

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┬áliterally 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 … [Read more...]

Suffixes in surnames

Different regions in the Netherlands have different customs. This applies to Dutch surnames as well as to many other traditions. Some areas use suffixes that are typical for that region. Knowing about the suffixes in Dutch family names can help you in trying to find out in which province to look for your ancestors. More information about regional customs can also be found in the articles about the different provinces in the Geography section. … [Read more...]

English versions of Dutch last names

When Dutch people arrived in the United States or other English-speaking countries, often their names got changed. This was either done on purpose, to make the name easier to write and remember, or by accident because the clerk didn't know how to spell the name and wrote it down phonetically. For this reason, a single family name can often be found in many different spellings in different documents. This article gives an overview of the types of changes that names underwent and also gives a … [Read more...]


'Patronymic' literally means 'father's name'. It means that someone calls himself after his father, for example a son of Jan would call himself 'Jansen'. This is similar to the English name 'Johnson'. … [Read more...]

English versions of Dutch first names

Many Dutch people took American names when they came to the US. Some common combinations are listed here. All of these combinations have been found in actual documents, even though the translations aren't always what you would expect. Tip: use the search-function in your browser to search for a name (Ctrl-F or Command-F in most browsers). … [Read more...]

Naming traditions

Have you ever wondered why first names seem to run in Dutch families for generations? In the Netherlands, people used to name their children after family members. This way, first names can stay in the family for centuries.The best known example of naming children is when a child is named after its grandparent. But other forms of naming are possible too. … [Read more...]

Prefixes in surnames

Many Dutch family names have prefixes like 'de' or 'van'. They have a special role in the Dutch family name which you have to be aware of when researching names with prefixes. … [Read more...]

Farm names

In the days before the Civil Registration forced everyone to stick to a surname, people in the eastern part of the Netherlands were named after the farm they lived at. You can still see that in the surnames today: Derk te Kolste, Piet te Lintum, Gerrit Jan Hoitink, etc. Since the surname might change every time a person moved, this sometimes offers difficulties in tracing your ancestors. There are some strategies to help you solve those name puzzles. … [Read more...]