Quick tip: Did your widowed ancestor make a settlement?

If a widow or widower with young children wanted to marry again, often they first had to make a settlement with their minor children so they received their share of the deceased parent's inheritance. These records can be helpful to prove family relationships, to get insights into the economic circumstances of the family, and to find out about … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Huwelijkse voorwaarden

Huwelijkse voorwaarden (literally: marriage terms) is the Dutch term for prenuptial agreement. Historically, like today, most people did not have huwelijkse voorwaarden. Prenuptial agreements were often made by people who were well-to-do or who had children from a previous marriage to provide for. A prenuptial agreement identifies the spouses, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Your ancestors may appear in inventories

Estate inventories and guardians' accounts often contain information about the daily lives of our ancestors. They can tells us what they owned and whom they did business with. If your ancestor was in trade, he may appear in the inventories of some of his clients. This can give you more insight into his business. Depending on the time and place, … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Emigrants sometimes went to a Notary

Before getting on board, an emigrant may have gone to a notary to: have a will drawn up (you never know if the ship will go down) give a power of attorney to a trusted friend or family member to handle their affairs enter into a work contract, including an agreement about the payment of the passage. This is especially true for richer … [Read more...]

“Negroes for New Netherland”

While searching the notarial archives at the Amsterdam City Archives, I came across a record that tells how Dutch merchants took African slaves from Guinea and shipped them to the New World, trading some in the West Indies and taking the rest to New Netherland. As it is rare to find accounts of voyages of slave vessels, I thought I would share this … [Read more...]

Dutch term: testament

A testament is a last will. Most people did not have a last will and died intestate. Usually, only wealthier people had a will drawn up. Wills can be found in notarial records or in court records (before 1811 in areas that did not have notaries). … [Read more...]