Source – Rent Registers

Cijnzen” or rents are rights to annual proceeds. The rights could be attached to land or property, certain official functions, or rights in common grounds. In the Middle Ages up until say the 1700s, rents were often paid in kind, for example in grain.

Dominion rents

Rents could be attached to a domain, the area belonging to an overlord. For example, the overlord could give land to a family in exchange for an annual payment. These rents were perpetual. Rents could also be required to pay in exchange for a certain right held from the overlord, for example the right to have a mill, collect a toll, or to hunt.

Dominion rents were registered by the feudal courts (leenhof). Disputes about dominion rents were brought before these courts as well. Registers recorded who owed which rent. Some of them were kept up-to-date over a period of time. Comparing the entries for the same rent over time may help in reconstructing family relationships.

Dominion rents continued to the late 1700s or early 1800s, when they were often sold for a one-time payment.

Page from the rent register of Ginneken and Bavel of 1725. Scan provided by Twan van den Broek (public domain)

Private rents

Rents could also be owed among non-noble people, for example when a person used another person’s property in exchange for an annual rent. These rents could also have the form of a mortgage, whereby the owner pays an annual rent in exchange for a one-time sum of money. In this case, the rent payer owns the property, and not just the right to use the property.

Transactions involving private rents were registered by the aldermen’s courts or notaries. Disputes were brought before the aldermen’s court. Private rents are rarely recorded in a separate rent register.


  • Y.J.A. Welings, C.J.M. van der Heijden, J.G.M. Sanders, Hoenen en Kapoenen: Gids van cijnsregisters betreffende Noord-Brabant 14de-20ste eeuw (Den Bosch: Rijksarchief in Noord-Brabant, 2000).
  • “Cijnsregisters,” research guide, Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum ( : accessed 10 March 2019).
  • Twan van den Broek, “Het cijnsregister van Ginneken en Bavel,” story, Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum ( : accessed 10 March 2019).
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a board-certified genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 30 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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