Dutch term – Grietenij

A grietenij is a municipality. The term is mainly used in Friesland. In 1851, it was changed to gemeente, the common Dutch word for municipality. In parts of Groningen, the term grietenij was also used to refer to the local courts.

A grietenij was led by the grietman, whose function was similar to that of a mayor.


Map of the grietenij Oost-Dongeradeel, 1718. Credits: B. Schotanus a Sterringa (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. Mark Jones says

    Hi Yvette,
    I have an ancestor William Gritman. The first record of him is 1685, baptizing his son Wilhelmus at the Dutch church in Flatbush (Brooklyn), New York. This was after the conquest of New Netherland by the English. It is unknown whether he was the original immigrant, or was born in New Netherland.
    His son Wilhelmus baptized several children at the Dutch church in Jamaica, Long Island, starting in 1702. He is listed as a subscriber to the church in 1715. The original Jamaica church records survive, and the recorder (probably the dominie) spelled the name variously as “Grotman” or “Gretman”.
    After the family assimilated the name has been spelled “Gritman”.
    Given that the Dutch did not use surnames until much later, I assume the family had to choose a surname in New York.
    You point out that “Grietman” was a term primarily used in Friesland. I’m interested whether you think the selection of this surname could indicate that William’s ancestry was Frisian?
    Thank you!

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