Quick tip – Don’t add another generation just based on the patronymic

Your brick wall ancestor might be somebody who did not use a surname but went by patronymic only. He might be Leendert Pieters (son of Pieter), Jan Hendricks (son of Hendrick), or Claes Huijgens (son of Huijg or Hugo). The patronymic indicates the name of the father.

It is a best practice in Dutch genealogy not to add another generation with just a first name. We only do that if we have found an independent record where the father appears in and if you’ve proven the connection to the son or daughter. If you haven’t found at least one record that mentions the father, you don’t know enough about him to add him as an individual in your database.

There’s another reason why it’s a bad practice to add people just based on a patronymic of their children. On occasion, the patronymic does not reflect the first name of the father. This is typically the case when the child is named after another person by their first name and patronymic. For example, if little Jan is a son of Pieter Claes and named after his deceased maternal grandfather Jan Hendricks, he may be called Jan Hendricks instead of Jan Pieters to perpetuate his grandfather’s name. Adding a Hendrick to your database as Jan’s father would be incorrect.

family tree

Habsburg family tree. Credits: Aegidius Sadeler, collection Rijksmuseum (public domain)

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.


  1. Hello, I will shown you a part of my dokument from the House Of The Lords in London.

    Peter de la Pierre , alias Peters , and John de la Pierre , alias Peters , desiring to be naturaliced , did this Day come up to the Clerk´s Table , and did there take the Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance.
    A Certificate from the Pastors and Elders of the Walllone Congregation in Canterbury , dated Nine July 1600 , that the said Peter de Pierre , and John dela Pierre , do profess the Protestant Religion , and do receive the Sacrament every Month , was read.
    An Act , for naturalizing Peter de la Pierre , alias Peters , and John de la Pierre , alias Peters , was this Day read the Third time , and , upen the Question, passed.
    etc. continues.
    This is my Ancestor from England there came to reside at that time in Canterbury , Kent in England , he came from Bergen housen in Germany married Elsabe Elizabeth Engelandten abt. 1722 , born Gibbon , he died in Budenbach I meant abt. 1693 . I have others dokuments too. about these peoples.
    Mr. Magnus Johansen , FAROES.

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