Quick Tip – Names are Different in Latin

If your family was Roman Catholic, their church records will be in Latin. These records used the Latin version of names. Since Dutch search engines only find exact matches, you will need to search for these Latin names or use wildcards.

For example, my ancestor Jan Smulders appeared in Catholic records as Joannes. His father Hendrik is called Henricus in Latin. Searching for “Jan Smulders” would not have found his baptismal record, but J* Smulders would have. Even initials can change though; a woman named Anneken may have been known in Catholic records as Joanna.

Baptismal record of Joannes Smolders

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Nancy Helis says

    You are very correct about this, as I regularly use wildcards to locate ancestors. In my situation, however, it was not really a case where it was Latin name versus Catholic name. It was more a situation of the person apparently not knowing how to spell her own name so in every record it appeared to be spelled based on what her name sounded like. I have found my 7th great-grandmother under the following names: Aachjen Hendrikx, Aagtjen Hendrikx, Aegien Hendricx, Aachjen Hendrixen, and Aachjten Hendrikx. I had several spellings of her name but was having difficulty finding her baptism record. The only way I could find it was by searching ” Hendri* A*n “. It turns out that she was born in Hattem on 6 April 1640. I do have a question, though. On her baptism record it shows here father as: Jan Hendrikx (de doot). Do you know what the alias “de doot” means?

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