Quick tip – Search without the last name

If you can’t find the person you’re looking for, try searching without the last name. Before 1811, last names were not fixed in many parts of the country. People may appear in records using farm names (in the eastern part of the country) or patronymics (everywhere else), or even under a different last name. By searching for other characteristics, such as the first name of the person you’re looking for and their father’s first name, you may find people even if they’re hiding under a different name.

An example of a person who appears with and without a last name is Petronella van Vlijmen, whose baptism was found as Petronella, daughter of Hugo Dircken and Joanna, spouses.

Name cloud of the 100 most popular names

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. Catherine MacGillivray says

    I’m curious about the name “Laureijs.” I’ve recently started researching my ancestors online and notice that Laureijs is a first name — as well as a last name. What can you tell me about the name? What is its origin? What does it mean? I also notice that variations of “Laureijs” show up in some of the older family records.

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