Quick tip – No middle names

People in the Netherlands did not have ‘middle’ names. They could have one or more first names, followed by their last name. But even if they had two first names, they would be considered two first names and not a first and a middle name.

Before say 1700, most people had just one first name. Afterwards, giving a child multiple first names became popular in some regions. In Catholic families, you can sometimes see a whole string of first names, like “Cornelia Adriana Maria.”

In some regions the second name was used as the call name. For instance, my grandmother Gesiena Wilhelmina Woordes from Winterswijk was known as “Mien,” a diminutive of Wilhelmina and her sister Aleida Gesiena was called “Sien,” a diminutive of Gesiena.

Photograph of two young girls

Aleida Gesiena (Sien) and Gesiena Wilhelmina (Mien) Woordes

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. Nils van Ammers says

    I have no middle name nor did my Mom or her sister.
    This helps explain that on some level.

    Dank je wel,

    Nils van Ammers

  2. Bart Lenselink says

    From another region of Gelderland: the first names of my two paternal aunts were Berendina Gosina (diminutive from Berendina: Dieneke or Dinie) and Gosina Berendina (diminutive from Gosina: Sientje).

  3. Judd Zandstra says

    I’ve noticed that American researchers who are new to Dutch genealogy often confuse a patronymic with a middle name. Neither you nor you parents choose your patronymic, It’s your father’s name with an ending that indicates “son of” or “daughter of”. I’ve wondered, though, what illegitimate children use for a patronymic?

    • Marjon Holt says

      My great grandmother (Sjoukjen Jeltjes) was illegitimate and bore her mother’s name (Jeltje Wiebes) in place of the usual patronymic…a matronymic (?) perhaps.

      • Usually, they then named the child after a male relative of the mother, including the patronymic. For example if the mother’s father was Jeltje Wiebes, she would name the child Jeltje Wiebes. I’ve also seen cases where the child was given the full name of the presumed father. I think this later became illegal.

  4. Geez, all this time and I never knew that about the Dutch having only first names. I was born in Utrecht, Netherlands in 1944. My birth certificate does say (in Dutch) that my “voornamen” are “Marnix Alexander”. And “voornamen” translates to “first names” in Google Translate, though to my Dutch ears it sounds more like “beforenames” which sounds to me like it isn’t saying first or middle, just names that come before your family name. In any case, when I came to the U.S., the Alexander part became my middle name.

  5. wynand van bakel says

    In the name Judocus Simons, Simons would be the patronymic. I assume Judocus’ father’s first or last name was Simon? To find Judocus’ father I would have to search for a person with the last name Simon? I find it a bit confusing and am not able to get past this point, even with all the helpful suggestion I received from various quarters. I understand and read Dutch, but not write it. I do speak Afrikaans and English.
    Thank you, Wynand

    • You would have to search for someone with a FIRST name Simon since the patronymic means “son of Simon” or “daughter of Simon.” Luckily if you know the mother’s first or last name and approximate birthdates it could help to find the correct Simon. If Simon is using his own patronymic he will have a completely different “last name” depending on HIS father’s first name — confusing indeed! In the event that Judocus happens to be the first born male child of Simon you could try searching for “Simon Judocus,” “Simon Judocusz” or “Simon Judocuszoon” etc. on the reasonable assumption that he was named for Simon’s own father.

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