Quick tip: naming patterns

Gerrit and Mien Woordes

Gerrit Jan and Gesiena Wilhelmina Woordes.

Most Dutch parents followed a strict pattern when naming their children: the first son was named after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grandfather; the first daughter was named after the maternal grandmother and the second daughter after the paternal grandmother.

When you find a source that lists children in their birth order, this could be a big clue about the names of their grandparents. Even Dutch immigrants usually followed this pattern so the names of children born in another country could give a hint about the Dutch grandparents, even though the names may have been translated.

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule though. My grandmother Gesiena Wilhelmina Woordes was not only named after her grandmother (Gesiena Leefferdink) but also after the queen (Wilhelmina), giving her two names like the rest of her siblings.

Read more about Dutch naming traditions

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. Keith Kooistra says

    In 1847 the Nieuwendorp family from Dordrecht, Zuid Holland, emigrated to the frontier of the United States in the State of Iowa. Their 3 boys (Christiaan, Jacob and Hendrik) all had daughters, each named Lena Nieuwendorp, after their fraternal grandmother. Being the frontier of America, births, marriages and deaths were not officially recorded. Our family descends from Hendrik’s daughter. The only way we could determine this, was by looking at the names that each Lena gave to their first 4 children and matching them to the grandparents.

  2. Yvette,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/05/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-may-23-2014.html

    Have a great weekend!

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