Dutch term – Huwelijkscontract

A huwelijkscontract (literally: marriage contract) is a prenuptial agreement. Sometimes, they are called huwelijkse voorwaarden (conditions of marriage).

Whether a couple had a prenuptial agreement depends on their social status. Richer families were more likely to draw up a marriage contract than poorer families. It is also more common to find a marriage contract if one of the spouses is widowed with children, in which case the marriage contract may make provisions for the children. Whether there is a marriage contract also depends on the time and place, since in some areas, like Groningen, marriage contracts were more common than in other places.

Often, the marriage contract includes the last will for the spouses, stipulating who inherits what if they die. The marriage contract will often also name guardians of any children of the marriage. This can give you the names of  other associates. Marriage contracts will also give you some idea of the economic situation of the couple, and will tell you if they were literate or not.

Marriage records were recorded by notaries. Before 1811, not all areas had notaries so you can then find them in the series of voluntary court records. The marriage contract is typically drawn up in the period between the first marriage banns and the actual marriage.

Last page of the marriage contract between Jan Meeusen and Catheleen Fauquenois, 24 April 1659.

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.



    Dear Yevette,
    Hope your series on tracing your ancestry to Eleanor of Aquitaine will resume. It was very interesting to see the old charters as source documents!! KMC, from Oregon, USA

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