Dutch term – Hollandgänger

This week's term isn't Dutch at all, it's German. Hollandgänger literally means Holland-goer. It's a German term to describe seasonal workers who would come to the Netherlands to work. They'd walk to the Netherlands in spring, work here all summer, and then return to their families in Germany in the autumn. Most of these people were poor farm laborers from Westphalia, Münsterland, Osnabrück, or East-Friesland. Some of these workers met their partners in the Netherlands and stayed here. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Opzichter

An opzichter is an overseer. If you find that your ancestor was an opzichter, that can be a clue to find more records about him. Opzichters were hired by various organizations like hospitals or prisons. In former Dutch colonies, you can find overseers on plantations or managing enslaved people. The organizations the overseers worked for may have created records that shed more life on your ancestors' lives, or for the people they oversaw. If you are looking at a death record and the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Baljuw

A baljuw [bailiff] was an official who represented the ruler of the region and had the highest jurisdiction. They usually received a fixed salary and a share of the fines. Other terms for this function are drost or drossaard.  Baljuws were appointed by the ruler. You can sometimes find these appointments in the records created by the ruler, such as the lord of a domain or the count or duke of the province. … [Read more...]

English translations of French occupations

During the French occupation in the Netherlands (1795-1813), many of the official records were written in French. Here are some of the occupations you can find in the records, with their English translations. Accoucheur > Obstetrician Adjoint > Aldermen Adjoint-Maire > Interim mayor Advocat > Lawyer Agriculteur > Farmer Aide > Aide Amurier > Weapon smith Apoticaire > Apothecary Apprentif > Apprentice Armurier > Weapon … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Beroep

The beroep is the occupation of your ancestors. Knowing the beroep not only gives you some insights into your ancestors lives, but can help you in your research since different occupations created different types of records. See the article How to Find your Dutch Ancestor's Occupation for more information. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Landmeter

A landmeter is a surveyor. Landmeters were not only called in to record new borders, but also when there was a dispute about borders or property ownership. Their records can often be found in town records or in the court records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Armenjager

An armenjager is a poor hunter, an official charged with driving away beggars. By the end of the 1600s, poor economic conditions caused many people to turn to begging. Churches and towns provided for their own people, but strangers had no choice but to beg. To prevent these strangers from taking charity that could be used by the towns' own folks, some towns hired an armenjager to get rid of them. They were usually put across the border of the municipality or province to make them somebody … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Boekhandelaar

A boekhandelaar is a book trader or bookstore owner. Until recent times, a large part of the population was illiterate and book traders could only be found in larger cities. Many book traders were also publishers. Estate inventories in notarial records can show us if our ancestors owned any books, sometimes including the titles. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Turfdrager

A turfdrager was a peat carrier. Peat was an important fuel, both for private homes and for businesses like breweries and bakeries. An abstract of the instructions for the peat carriers in Leeuwarden from 1660 gives an impression of the regulations that a peat carrier was expected to live by. Articles that regulate the peat carriers of this city Nobody will be admitted as peat carrier without the consent and approbation of the magistrate of the city. Peat carriers are required … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Klompenmaker

A klompenmaker is a wooden shoe maker. For many people in the Netherlands, wooden shoes were the common footwear. Wooden shoes were sturdy, protected toes when something fell on it, and made from material that's easily available. And if they broke beyond mending, you could always use them for firewood! Nowadays, some farmers still wear wooden shoes because they're practical. They're also part of traditional costumes. … [Read more...]