Dutch term: nummerwisselaar

horses and guns

Field artillery, 1811. Source: Vinkhuijzen collection, NYPL

A nummerwisselaar or number changer was a person that was hired as a replacement for military service. Often, this was somebody who signed up in the same year, but whose number did not come up. They literally “exchanged numbers” so one man served instead of the other.

In most cases, a contract between the (father of the) draftee and his substitute was drawn up before a public notary. It stipulated the terms, often involving a sum of money to be paid immediately and another sum after the service was completed. As this could be quite expensive, most people who hired a substitute were well-to-do. The first hint that somebody hired a substitute can often be found in the National Militia Certificate in the marriage supplements.

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. Marlene Santefort says

    Hi Yvette, I just discovered your newsletter and it is a jewel! So many questions answered already. God bless you! Marlene from Illinois

    • You’re welcome! It’s so nice to hear the newsletter is interesting to you. Thank you for your feedback! If you have any suggestions for future topics, or a research question that you would like me to address in a episode, please let me know.

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