Different regions in the Netherlands have different customs. This applies to Dutch surnames as well as to many other traditions. Some areas use suffixes that are typical for that region.
Knowing about the suffixes in Dutch family names can help you in trying to find out in which province to look for your ancestors. More information about regional customs can also be found in the articles about the different provinces in the Geography section.
Patronymics are surnames that are derived from the name of the father. This is more elaborately explained in a separate article about patronymics. Often, patronymics are easy to spot. The different forms can sometimes help determine where someone comes from.
|not specific to any region
|Jans, Berends, Roelofs
|Jobse, Abrahamse, Pieterse
|not specific to any region
|Jansen, Pietersen, Willemsen
Originally, these types of names had the function of patronymics. Beernink = belonging to the family of Berend. In this respect they can be compared to the prefix “Mac” of Scotland or “Fitz” in England.
In the provinces of Overijssel and Gelderland, these “clan” names got transferred to the farms. A man called Beernink would not necessarily belong to the clan of Berend, but lived on a farm that originally was established by someone from the clan of Berend. See the article on farm names to learn more about people naming themselves after their farms.
|Bultena, Matena, Wartena
|Biewenga, Kruizenga, Sikkenga
|Abbing, Mekking, Schuiling
|Huizinga, Abbinga, Fokkinga
|Hoitink, Meerdink, Hesselink
|Reitsma, Hoeksema, Miedema
As written in the previous paragraph, many farm names are derived from clan names. But these are not the only types of farm names. Many farm names can be spotted from their prefixes like ‘te’ or ‘ter’, see the article about prefixes in surnames for more information. Some farm names can be recognized from their suffix.
|Weversborg, Beverborg, Lunenborg
|Borninkhof, Grevinkhof, Achterhof
|Holthuis, Maathuis, Kamphuis
|Hietkamp, Veldkamp, Telgenkamp
Names based on geographical locations
Some other people called themselves after the place they lived. In many regions people used prefixes like “van” and “te”, which is explained in the article about prefixes in surnames. In some regions, they used suffixes instead. In Friesland, the suffix “stra” was used. For example, people from Ureterp called themselves Terpstra.
|Hoekstra, Terpstra, Veenstra
Names derived from personal characteristics
Sometimes people were named after some personal characteristics. Someone with white hair could be called “De Witte” (the white), someone who was a younger son could be called “De Jong”. Most of these types of names do not have specific suffixes but some do. For example, the suffix -aert meant something like “someone who …”, similar to the use of -er in English (to perform – performer).
|Grootaert, Mullaert, Mutsaert