Quick tip – Use Different Types of Death Records

In the period after 1811, the civil registration death records are the most reliable and informative records to use. In the period before 1811, there are different types of records that can act as substitutes for death records:

  • Burial records kept by the churches
  • Account books by the churches or deacons where fees are recorded for renting a pall, ringing the bells, or paying for the grave.
  • Records of the death duties levied by civil authorities.

Not all records exists in every place, but it can be worthwhile to look for them, since different records may include different details.

Example: Elsje de Graaf

Elsje de Graaf died in Enkhuizen on 22 March 1782. Two records document her death: the burial record of the church and the register of burial duties.

The burial record of the church has the following information:

  • Elsje de Graaf, buried 28 March 1782, buried in the south end of the Westerkerk, grave no. 189.2

The death duties register has the following details:

  • Elsje de Graaff, living in the St. Jansstraat, died 22 March 1782 at 11 AM, death duties registered 27 March 1782, pro deo, married, age 25, of the Reformed religion, died of the children’s disease.1

Apart from the name of the deceased, there is hardly any overlap between these two records. Had we stopped our research after finding the burial record of the church, we would not have found out her exact date and time of death, where she lived, her age, or her cause of death.


  1. Enkhuizen, burial register of the Westerkerk and Zuiderkerk, 1754-1799, Elsje de Graaf, 28 March 1782; “Personen,” index and scans, Westfries Archief (http://www.westfriesarchief.nl : accessed 5 September 2020).
  2. Enkhuizen, register of receipts of burial duties, 1782-1796, column 9, Elsje de Graaff, 27 March 1782; “Personen,” index and scans, Westfries Archief (http://www.westfriesarchief.nl : accessed 5 September 2020).
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ 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 diploma 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.

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