Ask Yvette – How to find a Dutch will

One of our Twitter followers, Karen de Bruyne, asked on Twitter how to find the will of her great-grandfather-in-law Jacob Bruijn, who died in The Hague on 28 May 1927. Since there are several ways to go about it, I thought I would write a blog post about it. Most people in the Netherlands did not have wills, either because there was not much to inherit, or because they were happy with the default way their estate would be inherited. Since 1811, wills were recorded by notaries. Before … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Royement

A royement can have multiple meanings, all having to do with cancellation or ceasing to be valid. When referring to persons, it is a disbarment or revoking of membership. When referring to records, it means the record itself is cancelled, for example when a mortgage is paid. You may come across the term in contemporary summaries of notarial records. Royementen of mortgages were typically created and handed to the interested party, rather than also being copied into the notaries' minutes. The … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Wills in the third person

Some people are surprised that many Dutch wills are in the third person ("leaves HER house to HER brother and HER sister"). This is because the wills are drawn up by a notary or court clerk, and the "I" in the record is the notary. "Today appeared before me, notary so-and-so, Mrs. this-and-that who declared this to be HER last will." … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Transport

The Dutch word transport can simply mean transport, but in legal records it means the transfer of property. Deeds of sale are sometimes called transportakten [transport deeds] or are recorded in transportregisters [transport registers]. Transport deeds will mention the previous and new owners, any rights or encumbrances attached to the property (like tithes, right of way), and a description of its location. … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check notaries in neighboring towns

If you are looking for notarial records, be sure to check in neighboring towns too. Unlike civil registrations or court records, there was no requirement to go to the notary in your own town. Sometimes, people lived in the countryside and the notary of a neighboring town was more convenient. Your ancestor could also appear in notarial records in another town if the seller or purchaser lived elsewhere and created the record there. When looking for notarial records of my ancestors Martinus … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Was there a prenuptial agreeement?

In some cases, couples made a prenuptial agreement when they married. Often, this was the case when at least one of the spouses had assets to protect, or when one of the spouses was richer than the other. The typical arrangement was that if one of them died without children, that person would receive a sum of money while the survivor kept the rest. The sum reflected each spouse's financial situation at the start of the marriage. Another reason to make a prenuptial agreement is if one or both of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Veiling

A veiling is an auction. You can sometimes find announcements of auctions in the paper, for example if a family is about to emigrate and is auctioning off their household items they won't take with them. Such an auction would be called a boelgoed in Friesland. Sometimes, notarial or voluntary court records were created to record the conditions and results of the auction. These can give you great insights into the lives of your ancestor since it shows you what items they owned. Auctions … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Notaris

A notaris is a notary. In many parts of the Netherlands, notaries were the record creators for many aspects of our ancestors' lives, for example when they wanted to draw up a prenuptial agreement, a contract to sell property, a work contract, or a will. See the article about notarial records for more information. … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Life events may create notarial records

Many notarial records are unindexed and can be time-consuming to go through. But notarial records were often created because of a life event that we can find in other sources.┬áIn a small town with just one or two notaries, it can pay off to browse the notarial records around that time. In towns without a notary, these types of records can be found in the series of voluntary court records. Examples of life events that may have created notarial records: Marriages: prenuptual agreements, … [Read more...]

Quick Tip – Dutch Ancestors Left Few Last Wills

Our Dutch ancestors rarely had a last will drawn up. Most were too poor to have any goods to leave behind. But even people who did own property often did not feel the need to have a last will, since they were happy with the default arrangement under the law. The wills that do exist can be found in notarial records (in areas and periods where notaries were available) or voluntary court records. … [Read more...]