Quick tip – Last Name or Patronymic?

If you’re researching a family with a name like Jansen, Zwiers, or Pieterse, at one point you will find the original person for whom the name was not a hereditary last name but a patronymic derived from the father’s name.

My mother’s name is Marijnissen. As a beginning genealogist, it took me a while to realize that the father of her brick wall ancestor wasn’t called Marijnissen but had Marijnis as a first name. I found his father as Marinus Peeters.

When dealing with such names before 1811, you should always test both possibilities: that the father used the same last name, or that the father used a first name from which the patronymic of the child was derived.

baptismal record

Roman Catholic Church (Chaam), baptismal register 1626-1698, fol. 122, Joannes Marini Peeters (30 April 1688); “Zoeken in Registers,” images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 14 July 2018)

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. Hi Yvette, I find your news letters interesting. I do not anticipate that I will ever employ your services. I find genealogy interesting but will not change my enjoyment of life if I don’t know. My children are adopted and have little interest in it. I started looking into my ancestry when I had lots of time on my hands. Now, I have less time and it takes increasingly more time to find any new information. All my ancestry came from or through the Netherlands to the US. My maternal grandmother came from Zeeland. My maternal grandfather came from Groningen. All of my father’s ancestors came from North Holland between 1849 and 1869. The earliest date I have found for one of my ancestors is 1460. I know that I have mistakes in it (impossible date combinations) but it was the best I could find and I am not passing it on to anyone else.

  2. Shawn Hendrix says

    Yvette, I am researching a Dutch immigrant to Pennsyvania by 1703, named Barent Hendricks. He left a will naming his children Hendrick, Anneke and Agness in 1708. In researching, would Hendrick have a last name of Barents or Hendricks? I can’t seem to find any information on when families were required to take a surname in Colonial America. I can find Hendrick or Henry Hendricks, but not Hendrick Barents.

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