How to Find Your Dutch Ancestor’s Occupation

Do you want to know what your Dutch ancestor did for a living? Here are five different sources you can check to find out. Civil registration records The civil registration records of birth, marriage, and death will include the occupation of the adults in the records (parents, spouses, deceased). These records are available for the whole country … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Pachter

A pachter is a tenant. Most farmers in the Netherlands were tenants who did not own their farms or land. You can sometimes find tenancy contracts in court records, notarial records, or family archives. Especially in earlier times, these contracts were often made without having an official record so it may be hard to find proof. See an example of … [Read more...]

Quick tip – What Organizations Was Your Ancestor Involved in?

In the 1800s and 1900s, there were many organizations for every aspect of a person's life. Here are some examples I encountered in my research projects: Honorary member of the Society for the Promotion of the Musical Arts. Chairman of a local  branch of the Anti-Revolutionaire Partij [Anti Revolutionary Party], a Christian … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Koopman

A koopman was a merchant, with the plural being kooplieden. Kooplieden could trade in all sorts of goods, ranging from spices from the Far East, timber from the Baltic or fur from the Americas. Others traded in domestic products like grain, cloth or glassware. One of the nice things about having a koopman in your tree is that they left much … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Landbouwer

A landbouwer is a farmer. There are several related terms that you may encounter in the records: Boer (farmer) Boerenknecht (farm hand) Landgebruiker (literally: land user, often a tenant farmer) Landman (farmer) Bouwman (farmer) Akkerbouwer (field farmer) Veehouder (cattle holder) Varkenshouder (pig holder) Graanboer (grain … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Timmerman

A timmerman is a carpenter. In the days before all houses were made of concrete or brick, carpenters built the frames. In the Middle Ages, most houses were made of wood. The houses had timber frames filled up with wicker and mud/clay. Later, bricks were used to fill in the timbers. Many carpenters were also employed to build ships. In the 17th … [Read more...]

Dutch term: burgemeester

The term burgemeester means 'mayor'. Before 1795, when the French occupied the Netherlands and introduced new laws, most towns had more than one mayor. These were elected officials. Since 1795, each municipality only has one mayor. Mayors are appointed by the crown. In early records of the civil registration, it is not unusual for a mayor of a … [Read more...]