This is the twenty-first post in a series about my possible line of descent from Eleanor of Aquitaine. In the first post, I explained how I discovered the possible line, and how I am going to verify it one generation at a time. In the last post, I proved that my sixteenth great-grandfather Willem van Wijfliet was the son of Jan van Wijfliet.
Jan van Wijfliet, son of Lijsbeth van Mieren
Research into Willem van Wijfliet turned up several sources that mentioned his father Jan:
- Feudal registers that showed Jan van Wijfliet son of Jan Back van Tilburg held the Kerhove manor in Oisterwijk in fief from the Duke of Brabant.
- Court records that showed Willem van Wijfliet owned property in Tilburg.
- A kinship claim showing that Willem van Wijfliet used his rights to buy a rent his father had sold in 1390-1394.
- An agreement with Gherit, bastard of Gherijt Wijten, who had done a misdeed [probably: rape] against Elsbeen Wijfliet, sister of Willem, son of Jan.
These and other records will be analyzed for evidence about the identity of Jan’s parents.
Lady Margriet van Bruheze, wife of Jan van Wijfliet
A record from 1438-1439 mentions Jan van Wijfliet, son of Jan Bac van Tilburg as the son-in-law of Katheline, widow of Willem van Bruheze.1
One known record gives us the first name of Jan’s wife. On the Monday after St. James [25 July] 1398 or 1399, Jan van Wijflet Bac’s son sold property to Margriet, natural-born daughter of Willem van Bruheze, that Jan and his lawful wife the Lady Margriet had inherited from said Willem van Bruheze and Lady Katheline his wife.2
These records shows that Willem van Bruheze had two daughters named Margriet: one born out of wedlock who did not use a title, and Lady Margriet, presumably born to his lawful wife, who married Jan van Wijfliet.
It is not certain whether Lady Margriet was the mother of Jan van Wijfliet’s son Willem, but it seems likely as no evidence was found that Jan van Wijfliet had another wife and Willem had an illegitimate daughter Margriet.3
Jan van Wijfliet, son of Jan Back
Two feudal records show that Jan van Wijfliet was the son of Jan Back van Tilburg.
In the feudal register of 1440-1465, called the Edaboek, Jan van Wijflet son of Jan was recorded as the holder of the manor Kerchove in Oisterwijck, that used to belong to Jan van Wijflet son of Jan Bacx van Tijlborch.4
The property transfer is also recorded in the Spechtboek, originally created around 1374 and kept up-to-date until 1460. The book contains an entry for Jan van Wijfliet, son of Jan Bacx van Tilbourch, as holder of a fief consisting of a manor and homestead, fields, and what goes with it, called the Kirchove, in Oisterwijk. The line above, in a different hand, says Jan van Wijflet, his son, took over the fief.5
Kerckhove and Kirchove are variations of the same name, so these two feudal registers are for the same fief.
Several court records in ‘s-Hertogenbosch also Jan van Wijfliet mentioned as the son of Jan Bac van Tilburg.
Between 1390 and 1394, Berthout, son of Jan Bac Berthout’s son van [from] Tilburg sold a rent from the mill in Corvel in the parish of Tilburg to his brother Jan van Wijfliet.6
In 1406/1407 Berthout Bac and Jan van Wijfliet, brothers, children of the late Jan Bac Berthout’s son, and Nicolaas Steenwech with his wife Hadewijch, daughter of Jan van Dordrecht and his late wife Elsbena, daughter of the late Jan Bac, made an estate division.7
In this record, Jan Bac Berthouts is indicated as the late Jan Bac, showing he had died. The lack of the word “quondam” [Latin for “late”] in the 1390-1394 record implies he was still living then. Combined, the records indicate that Jan Bac died between 1390 and 1407.
In 1414-1415, Jan van Wijfliet, son of the late Jan Bac van Tilburg transported a rent in Helmond to Gerrit son of Willem van Doerne, that he had inherited from Willem van Bruheze.8 Willem van Bruheze was Jan van Wijfliet’s father-in-law according to the 1438-1439 court record.
All these records are in agreement and show that Jan van Wijfliet was the son of Jan Bac van Tilburg, consistent with the feudal records. These court records show he had a brother Berthout Bac, and a sister Elsbena who died before 1407.
Lijsbeth van Mieren, wife of Jan Bac
The oldest known record that identifies the wife of Jan Bac is a 1349 rent register from Mechelen (also known as Mechlin, now in Belgium). One entry records that Lord Jan Wijfvliet established a rent (life interest or pension) for his illegitimate daughter Lijsbeth van Mieren, whom he had with Lijsbeth van Mieren.
The full entry translates to:
Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren Lord Jan Wijfvliet’s natural daughter whom he had with Lijsbeth van Mieren
Jan Bac’s wife, as above. Paid by Lord Jan van Wijfliet and his wife.9
The “as above” refers to the establishment of a rent.
The formulation in the rent register does not make explicit which of these women was Jan Bac’s wife: the daughter/pensioner Lijsbeth van Mieren or the mother Lijsbeth van Mieren. The register does not have punctuation, allowing for two interpretations:
- Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren, daughter of Lord Jan Wijfvliet’s and (Lijsbeth van Mieren, Jan Bac’s wife)
- Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren, (daughter of Lord Jan Wijfvliet’s natural daughter and Lijsbeth van Mieren),
Jan Bac’s wife.
In his article “Bâtards et pouvoir dans le duché de Brabant XIIe-XIVe siècles” [Bastards and power in the duchy of Brabant in the 12th through 14th centuries], Godfried Croenen interprets the entry in the rent register to mean that Jan Bac was married to the mother Lijsbeth van Mieren, who had an illegitimate child (the pensioner) with lord Jan Wijfvliet.10 Since the mention of “Jan Bac’s wife” follows the name of the mother, this is a logical interpretation.
However, analysis of the entire rent register suggests Jan Bac’s wife could have been the daughter Lijsbeth van Mieren:
- The register lists people to whom the city of Mechelen committed to pay a rent or pension. It would be more important to precisely identify the pensioner than her mother.
- Other entries in the register include the word “nu” [now] when they indicate a subsequent marriage of the mother. That word is absent in the listing for Lijsbeth van Mieren and her parents. These listings were typically for mothers that did not use last names, where the name of the subsequent spouse was needed for identification. Mother Lijsbeth van Mieren was already identified by name and surname.
- There are other entries listing the spouse of female pensioners.
Both interpretations are possible. Other evidence is needed to determine which is correct.
Lady Lijsbeth, wife of Jan Back
On 5 May 1391, an annuity was founded in the Oisterwijk church for the deceased Jan Back and Lady Lijsbeth, his wife, and Aert Berthout and Lady Lijsbeth, his wife.11 According to the finding aid, the register was created in 1532, copying the entries from an earlier administration.12 The handwriting in the record is consistent with the late 1400s or early 1500s. The original version has not been preserved and the 1532 copy is the earliest surviving version.
The title “Lady” indicates that Lijsbeth, the wife of Jan Back, was of noble birth. The 1349 rent register called the daughter Lady Lijsbeth Lijsbeth van Mieren Lord Jan Wijfvliet’s natural daughter whom he had with Lijsbeth van Mieren. No title was used for the mother, implying she was not of noble birth. The use of “Lady” in the 1391 annuity suggests that Jan Bac was married to the daughter, Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren.
The annuity was founded in the church of Oisterwijk, the parish where the Kerkhoven fief held by Jan Back was located. This record shows that Jan Back died by 5 May 1391, consistent with the findings in the court records that he died between 1390 and 1407.
Jan van Wijfliet’s name gives a clue about the identity of his maternal grandfather. Listed second to his brother Berthout in several records, Jan van Wijfliet was apparently the second son of Jan Bac. Berthout must have been named after his paternal grandfather, since Jan Back was called Jan Bac Bertout’s son in the 1406-1407 transfer. Jan van Wijfliet may have been named after his maternal grandfather, as would have been the tradition for the second son.
The fact that Jan van Wijfliet was not named Bac(k) like his father is significant. In this period, it was not uncommon for people to be named after grandparents by their full names, not just their first name.13 This seems to happen especially if the grandfather was well-known or had high social status. If Jan Bac’s wife was Lijsbeth van Mieren, daughter of Lord Jan van Wijfliet and Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren, that would explain why they named their second son Jan van Wijfliet: he was named after his maternal grandfather. If, however, Jan Bac’s wife was Lijsbeth van Mieren, former mistress of Jan van Wijfliet, it would be highly unlikely that they would name a son after her former lover. The fact that Jan Bac and his wife Lijsbeth named their son Jan van Wijfliet strongly suggests Lijsbeth was Jan van Wijfliet’s daughter, not his mistress.
The names of Jan van Wijfliet’s children are consistent with Jan Back and Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren being his parents:
- Jan van Wijfliet had a son Jan, who succeeded him to the fief of Kerkhoven.14 That right was reserved for the eldest son. The eldest son would traditionally be named after the paternal grandfather, especially one who was deceased.
- Jan van Wijfliet had a daughter Elsbeen, the victim of a “misdeed” in 1423 as described in the last post.15 Elsbeen and Lijsbeth are both variations of the same name, Elisabeth. Elsbeen’s maternal grandmother was Kathelijn, wife of Willem van Bruheze, as can be seen in the 1398-1399 record. Elsbeen could have been named after her paternal grandmother.
Rent of 116 pounds
On 2 August 1357, Johannes Back, son of the late Aert called Berthout Bac van Tilburg, steward of the Duke, gained possession of a hereditary rent of 116 pounds from a windmill in Berlicum.16 The original record does not survive, but a charter was issued by the aldermen of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 1434 to testify that they saw the charter. The 1357 text is copied into the 1434 charter, called a “vidimus” [Latin for “we saw”].
That 1434 charter also contains the text of an earlier charter relating to the same rent. On 31 March 1349, Jan van Wijfliet, Lord of Blaersvelt, knight, received the rent of 116 pounds of the windmill in Berlicum. The text of the 1349 was copied into the vidimus charter, but the original charter also survives in the same collection.17 The text in the 1349 record is copied verbatim into the vidimus charter, which indicates that although it is a copy, it is very reliable. This makes it likely that the copied information from 1356 was correct as well.
These two charters show that Jan Back received a rent in 1356 that had previously belonged to Johannes van Wijfliet. The term used to describe Jan Bac’s receipt of the rent shows that it was an abandoned property, that the previous owner had lost the claims to it.
As will be shown in upcoming blog posts, Jan van Wijfliet, lord of Blaasveld, was a bastard son of Duke John II of Brabant. Jan van Wijfliet died in 1356.18 As a bastard, his inheritance would have reverted back to the landlord, who at this time was his half-sister Duchess Johanna of Brabant. Jan van Wijfliet’s death in 1356 explains why the rent was abandoned property that was available to transfer to Jan Back. It appears that the Duchess chose to assign the rent to Jan Back after Jan van Wijfliet’s death. If Jan Back was married to Jan van Wijfliet’s daughter, that explains why the Duchess chose to provide for her. If Jan Back was married to Jan van Wijfliet’s former mistress, it would be less likely that she and her new husband would receive the rent.
A heraldic manuscript from the Royal Library of Belgium has a description of the coat of arms used by the Back van Wijfvliet family. It names Jan Back, son of Berthout Back, married to N. Wijtvliet.19 The “N.” is commonly used for unknown names (from the Latin “nomen nescio,” I don’t know the name).
The catalog entry did not name the creator and indicates it was created in the second part of the 1700s.20 The manuscript is not contemporary and at least 300 years after the people mentioned in it died. No sources are identified. This makes the manuscript unreliable. The manuscript supports the theory that the wife of Jan Back had a Wijfliet connection, but not much weight should be given to it.
Multiple records identify the father of Jan van Wijfliet as Jan Back Berthouts van Tilburg. No records directly identify his mother, but two records name his father’s wife. A 1349 rent register identifies a Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren, daughter of Lord Jan Wijfvliet and Lijsbeth van Mieren. The next line says “Jan Bac’s wife,” without making explicit whether that refers to the daughter or the mother. A 1391 annuity names Jan Back’s wife as Lady Lijsbeth.
A combination of evidence shows that Jan Bac was married to the daughter Lijsbeth van Mieren, not the mother:
- The 1391 annuity called Jan Back’s wife Lady Lijsbeth, the same title as used for the daughter in the 1349 rent register. The rent register did not use a title for the mother.
- Jan Back and Lady Lijsbeth named their son Jan van Wijfliet, apparently after his maternal grandfather, in accordance with tradition. Naming a child after a former lover would be highly unusual.
- Jan Back received a rent formerly held by Jan van Wijfliet. That type of transfer is more common from father to son-in-law than from nobleman to husband of his former mistress.
- An unreliable heraldic manuscript identifies the wife of Jan Back as N. Wijfliet, consistent with her being Jan van Wijfliet’s daughter.
Jan Back was the son of Berthout Back, the steward of the Duke of Brabant. He would be of the right social status and traveled in the right circles to marry an illegitimate daughter of a lord who was himself the illegitimate son of the Duke of Brabant.
The combination of this evidence proves that Jan van Wijfliet was the son of Lady Lijsbeth van Mieren, the illegitimate daughter of Jan van Wijfliet, lord of Blaasveld, and Lijsbeth van Mieren.
That is twenty generations down, eight to go!
Word of thanks
I would not have been able to discover all the records used in this article without the research of others. I especially want to mention Hans Vogels, who wrote about the Wijfliet family on the “Middeleeuwse Genealogie” [Medieval Genealogy] Yahoo Group and explained his reasoning that Jan Back’s wife was the illegitimate daughter of Jan van Wijfliet,21 and the late Theo Boeree, whose research notes on the Back family provided valuable references.21 They did not know about the 1391 annuity and 1349 rent register, so their theories were not proven, but they helped me to discover several of the sources I used in this article. All interpretations and conclusions are my own.
- Aldermen’s Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), Bosch Protocol 1438-1439, fol. 157v, Van Gerwen sale of rent; call no. 1209, Aldermen’s court of Den Bosch, Record Group 14; Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Den Bosch ; imaged as “Bosch protocol 1367-1809,” Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch (https://denboschpubliek.hosting.deventit.net/zoeken.php : accessed 30 May 2019).
- Aldermen’s Court (Helmond), protocols 1398-1399, record 23, Van Wijflet to Bruheze; call no. 3851, Aldermen’s Court of Helmond, Record Group 15240; Regionaal Historisch Centrum Eindhoven, Eindhoven; scan provided by RHC Eindhoven.
- Aldermen’s Court (Tilburg), general protocol, 1547, fol. 154-v, Jan Goessen Wouters kinship claim (3 October 1547); call no. 7939, Alderman’s Court of Tilburg, Record Group 14; Regionaal Archief Tilburg, Tilburg.
- Feudal Office of Brabant, “Edaboek,” about 1440-1465, fol. 393v, Jan van Wijflet; photocopy in call no. 278, Shadow Archives 20th Century, Record Group 360; Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (BHIC), Den Bosch; citing Feudal Office of Brabant, National Archives, Brussels, Belgium.
- Feudal Office of Brabant, “Spechtboek,” 1374 to about 1460, fol. 205, Kirchove; photocopy in call no. 276, Record Group 360, BHIC.
- Aldermen’s Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), Bosch Protocol 1390-1394, fol. 77, Bac to Wijfliet; call no. 1179, record group 14, Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
- Aldermen’s Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), Bosch Protocol 1406-1407, fol. 196v-197, Bac/Wijfliet estate division; call no. 1185, record group 14, Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
- Aldermen’s Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), Bosch Protocol 1414-1415, fol. 275, Wijflit to Doerne sale; call no. 1189, record group 14, Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
- Mechelen, rent book 1349-1367, fol. 45v, Lijsbeth van Mieren; records of the city of Mechelen, fonds K – Rentes, series I, nr. 3; Mechelen City Archives, Mechelen, Belgium.
- Godfried Coenen, “Bâtards et poivoir dans led uché de Brabant, XIIe-XViie siècle,” in Revue du Nord, no. 31, La bâtardise et l’exercice du pouvoir en Europe du XIIIe au début du XVIe siècle (2014), p. 189-218; PDF, Acadamia (https://www.academia.edu/13983646/B%C3%A2tards_et_pouvoir_dans_le_duch%C3%A9_de_Brabant_XIIe-XIVe_si%C3%A8cles : accessed 23 June 2019).
- “Liber anniversatorium,” register of annuities (1532); call no. 7, aquisitions of Oisterwijk, Record Group 777; Regionaal Archief Tilburg, Tilburg.
- “777 Plaatsingslijst van de collectie aanwinsten van de gemeente Oisterwijk, 1438-1720” [777 finding aid for the collection of acquisitions of the municipality of Oisterwijk, 1438-1720], Regionaal Archief Tilburg (https://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl/zoek-in-archieven/?/details/NL-TbRAT-777/ : accessed 30 May 2019).
- J.A. de Boo, Familiewapens: Kentekens van Verwantschap [Family Coats of Arms: Signs of Kinship] (The Hague: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, 2008), 171.
- Feudal Office of Brabant, “Edaboek,” about 1440-1465, fol. 393v, Jan van Wijflet; photocopy in call no. 278, Shadow Archives 20th Century; Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum, Den Bosch; citing Feudal Office of Brabant, National Archives, Brussels, Belgium.
- Aldermen’s Court (Oisterwijk), general protocol 1425-1426 [according to catalog, actual register starts in 1423], fol. 14v, Wijten and Wijfliet agreement (13 December 1423); call no. 145, Aldermen’s court of Oisterwijk, Record Group 847; Regionaal Archief Tilburg, Tilburg; consulted as finding aid and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (https://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl/zoek-in-archieven/?/details/NL-TbRAT-847 : accessed 17 May 2019).
- Aldermen of ‘s Hertogenbosch, vidimus of charters of 1349 and 1356 (25 July 1434); call no. 260, Reformed Citizens’ Orphanage ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Record Group 0212; Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch, ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
- Leonis van Erp et al to Johannes van Wijfliet, charter (31 March 1349); call no. 261, record group 0212, Erfgoed ‘s-Hertogenbosch.
- Jan van Boendale, Brabantsche Yeesten, vol. 6, section LXXII, “Van heren Ots brueder kinderen, ende van den graven”; transcribed version, Digitale Bibliotheek Nederlandse Letteren (https://www.dbnl.org/tekst/boen001brab01_01/boen001brab01_01_0269.php : accessed 31 May 2019).
- Notes regarding the Berthout-Back family, Ms G 1222, date estimated 1750-1800, fol. 18r; Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels; scans provided by Royal Library of Belgium.
- No permission was granted to reproduce the relevant scan, so it is not included here.
- Hans Vogels, “Jan van Wijfliet,” Word-document, 4 March 2002; “Middeleeuwse Genealogie,” files section, Yahoo Groups (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/soc_nederlandse_adel : accessed 31 December 2017).
- Theo Boeree, research notes; Central Bureau for Genealogy, The Hague.