Was Eleanor of Aquitaine my Ancestor? Generation 5: Gerardus van den Heuvel

This is the sixth 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 great-grandmother Cornelia Francisca van den Heuvel was the daughter of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Maria Cornelia Bovendeert.

Gerardus van den Heuvel, son of Dorothea Smulders

Gerardus van den Heuvel is the most recent generation in my possible line back to Eleanor of Aquitaine for whom all the records are public: He was born more than 100 years ago, married more than 75 years ago, and died more than 50 years ago. There are no stories about him in my family, so public records and DNA evidence are all I have to work with.

Cornelia Francisca van den Heuvel’s personal record card and population registers identified her parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel, born in Tilburg on 25 December 1855 and Maria Cornelia Bovendeert, born in Breda on 12 March 1861.

Birth record

Tilburg birth records include a Gerardus van den Heuvel born on 25 December 1853—two years before the date mentioned on the personal record card of Cornelia Francisca van den Heuvel and the 1900-1920 population register in Breda. The birth record names his parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders.2

Marriage

Gerardus van den Heuvel married Maria Cornelia Bovendeert in Tilburg on 9 February 1881. Born and living in Tilburg, he was 27 years old and working as a day laborer. The marriage record named his parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel, deceased, and Dorothea Smulders, living in Tilburg.3

The names of the groom and bride match the names of Cornelia Francisca van den Heuvel’s parents in her birth and marriage record and her personal record card. The names of the groom’s parents and his age match the 1853 Tilburg birth record. No other Van den Heuvel-Bovendeert marriage was found in the Netherlands.4

Marriage record

Marriage supplements

When he got married, Gerardus van den Heuvel submitted a certified copy of the 25 December 1853 birth record as proof of his identity, indicating that the groom was the same person as the child in that birth record. The marriage supplements also contained a National Militia certificate showing he had fulfilled his military duties, which had his date of birth as 25 December 1853 and his parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders. It showed he did not have to serve because his brother(s) had served already; implying that there is no military service record to look for.5

Extract of of the birth record

National Militia certificate

Population registers

Gerardus van den Heuvel, born Tilburg 25 December 1853, is listed in the population register of Tilburg from 1849-1859 in the household of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders. The page does not list family relationships.With the same name and 1853 birth date, he appears as the head of household with his wife Maria Cornelia Bovendeert in Princenhage and Breda from 1884 to 1900. This household includes daughter Cornelia Francisca.7

The only time he appears with the 1855 birth date in the Breda population registers is during the period 1900-1920.8 The family composition matches the 1890-1899 register, proving this is the same man.

Population registers were often copied from the previous series, which introduced a risk of copying errors. That is likely what happened here. When the personal record cards were introduced in 1939, the information about the parents was usually copied from the population registers. So this one copy error in the 1900-1920 register explains the discrepancy in the dates in the population register and the personal record card of his daughter, which both show the 1855 birth date.

1849-1859 population register

1849-1859 population register

Breda 1900-1920 population register

Death

Gerardus van den Heuvel died in Breda on 6 May 1918. His death record identifies him as the widower of Maria Cornelia Bovendeert. He was a laborer, 62 years old, born in Tilburg and living in Breda; a son of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders, both deceased.9

The age of 62 is consistent with the 1855 birth date in the 1900-1920 population register, the register where he was recorded when he died. It is likely that the clerk who registered the death looked him up in the register to determine his age. The informants Adriaan van Eerdewijk and Lambertus de Leeuw were probably neighbors, as was the tradition, and may not have known his age.

The date of death and the name of his late wife matches the information in the 1900-1920 population register. The names of the parents match the information in the 1853 birth record and 1881 marriage record, proving this is the right death record.

Death record

Dorothea Smulders’ death

Dorothea Smulders’ death record shows she was living in Tilburg but died in Breda in house ward C Leuvenaarstraat 479 on 25 December 1887.10 The 1887 address book of Breda shows that G. van den Heuvel lived at Leuvenaarstraat 479b.11 This suggests Dorothea was staying with Gerardus when she died, though her official residence was Tilburg. This is additional indirect evidence that she was his mother.

Death record of Dorothea Smulders

Criminal records

From the marriage and death record, we know that Gerardus worked as a (day) laborer, one of the lowest-paying jobs. Before say World War II, it was not uncommon for poor people to spend time in prison for offenses that would have led to fines for richer people. The court took the defendant’s poverty into consideration when sentencing. When they thought him unable to pay a fine, a short stay in prison was the usual punishment. Even without the financial consequences of a fine, the loss of wages would be a heavy burden on the family’s finances.

Gerardus van den Heuvel was convicted of several crimes:

  • On 18 May 1875, he was convicted of assault and sentenced to three days in prison.12
  • On 16 December 1879, he was convicted of smuggling 36 kilos [almost 80 pounds] of salt across the Belgian-Dutch border without proper documentation and sentenced to eight days in prison.13
  • On 3 March 1881, he was convicted of causing a nightly ruckus and sentenced to two days in prison.14
  • On 14 October 1882, he was convicted of drunkenness and sentenced to one day in prison.15
  • On 7 February 1884 he was convicted of violence against a civil servant while on duty and sentenced to six days in prison.16
  • On 7 October 1897, he was convicted of assault and sentenced to five days in prison.17

The court records only specify his name, place of residence, age, and occupation; enough to identify him but it does not provide evidence about his parentage.

Prison records were not found for his first two convictions, while the prison record for the third does not mention his parents.18 For the last three convictions, prison records identify his parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel (deceased) and Theodora Smulders.19 The names Dorothea and Theodora were often used interchangeably, and both had the nickname Dora. Gerardus named his second daughter “Theodora”, probably after his mother.20 It is possible that Gerardus gave his mother’s name incorrectly as “Theodora” when he arrived at the prison. These registers were not checked with the civil registration records but often relied on information provided by the prisoners.

1883 prison record

Gerardus spent his last incarceration in the Breda “koepelgevangenis” [dome prison], built in 1882-1886. Based on the panopticon principle, it allowed guards to oversee all cells from the center of the building.

Dome prison in Breda

Dome prison in Breda. Credits: Cultural Heritage Service

Another piece of evidence confirms that Dorothea Smulders was also called Theodora. The Nederlandsche Staatscourant, the newspaper with the official announcements from the Dutch government, announced on 31 October 1881 that the Breda court found in favor of the petition by “Theodora Smulders,” widow of Gerardus van den Heuvel, to have her son Peter Leonardus van den Heuvel placed under curatorship on account of insanity.21 

Newspaper article

Other records

Gerardus van den Heuvel and Maria Cornelia Bovendeert were poor. The population registers and marriage register show him as a day laborer, carrier, and butcher, so they did not have a lot of money. They owned no real estate.22 No death duties file was created, suggesting his estate had such a low value that no death duties were owed.23

map

Breda in 1869. Credits: J. Kuyper, via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

DNA evidence

One of my mother’s DNA matches at Ancestry, J.V., has a three-person-tree that identifies him as the son of Gertrude Francisca Diddens, born Tilburg 16 October 1897. My mother shares 25.8 centimorgans of DNA over two segments with J.V.24

A Tilburg birth record shows that Gertruda Francisca Huberta Diddens was born there on 16 October 1897, the daughter of Wilhelmus Hendrikus Hubertus Diddens and Anna Helena van den Heuvel.25 The matching date and place of birth and similar first names identify her as the mother of the DNA match.

According to her marriage record, Anna Helena van den Heuvel was the daughter of Franciscus van den Heuvel and Maria Agnes van Beers.26 The marriage record of Franciscus van den Heuvel and Maria Agnes van Beers identifies his parents as Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders.27 This makes the DNA match J.V. a third cousin to my mother, Els Marijnissen.

25.8 cM of shared DNA is below average for third cousins, but not outside the normal range. Blaine Bettinger’s “Shared Centimorgan Project” shows that more than 10% of self-reported third cousins share between 19.1 and 32.1 cM of DNA.28 Ancestry’s Timber algorithm may have removed some segments, causing the reported total to be lower than it actually is.29

My mother and J.V. do not have any shared matches, nor does she have any other matches who are known descendants of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders.30 Without corroboration, we cannot conclude with certainty that the shared DNA comes from Gerardus van den Heuvel or Dorothea Smulders, but the DNA results are consistent with that conclusion. The impopularity of DNA testing in the Netherlands explains why there are so few matches.

Conclusion

The birth, marriage, and death records of Gerardus van den Heuvel and his militia certificate all agree that he was the son of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders. Prison records also name this couple as his parents, with a variation of the mother’s first name.

Gerardus lived with Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders when he was young, and Dorothea Smulders died in his house, providing indirect evidence of the relationship. A minor discrepancy in the birth date of Gerardus seen in several records can be traced back to a probable copying error in the 1900-1920 population register. A DNA match that descends from Dorothea Smulders provides supporting evidence. No evidence was found that Gerardus had other parents.

This body of evidence proves that Gerardus van den Heuvel was the son of Gerardus van den Heuvel and Dorothea Smulders.

That’s five generations down, 23 to go!


Sources

  1. Breda, population register 1890-1900, vol. 17, p. 68, Gerardus van den Heuvel household; “Genealogie,” index and images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 7 May 2016). Also, Breda, population register 1900-1920, vol. 16, p. 185, Gerardus van den Heuvel household. Also, “Nationaal Register Overledenen” [National Register Deceased], personal record card of Cornelia Francisca van den Heuvel, born Breda 2 June 1893 died Breda 23 July 1973; Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie; photocopy provided via mail.
  2. Civil Registration (Tilburg), birth record 1853 no. 400, Gerardus van den Heuvel (27 December 1853); “Zoek een Persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  3. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage record 1881 no. 21, Van den Heuvel-Bovendeert (9 February 1881); “Zoek een Persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  4. “Zoeken,” index, WieWasWie (http://www.wiewaswie.nl : accessed 26 March 2018), advanced query for last name “Heuvel” as groom and last name “Bovendeert” as bride.
  5. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage supplements 1881 no. 21, Van den Heuvel-Bovendeert (9 February 1881); digital film #004686501, browsable images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : accessed 4 December 2017).
  6. Tilburg, population register 1849-1859, Oerle, p. 348, household of Gerardus van den Heuvel; “Zoek een Persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  7. Princenhage, population register 1880-1889,  vol. 7, p. 270, Emer house 362, household of Gerardus van den Heuvel; “Genealogie,” index and images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 7 May 2016). Also, Breda, population register 1880-1890,  vol. 11, p. 71, Gerardus van den Heuvel household.  Also, Breda, population register 1890-1899,  vol. 17, p. 68, Gerardus van den Heuvel household. Also, Breda, population register 1890-1899,  vol. 10, p. 43, Gerardus van den Heuvel household.
  8. Breda, population register 1900-1920, vol. 16, p. 185, Gerardus van den Heuvel household.
  9. Civil registration (Breda), death record 1918 no. 211, Gerardus van den Heuvel (8 May 1918); “Genealogie,” index and images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 26 December 2008).
  10. Civil registration (Breda), death record 1887 no. 587, Dorothea Smulders (27 December 1887); “Genealogie,” index and images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 3 December 2017).
  11. “Adresboeken, wijk- en huisnummering” [Address books, ward and house numbering], address book for Breda, 1887, p. 149, entries for Leuvenaarstraat 479; digital images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 3 December 2017). The front matter of the book was not scanned so the full title and author could not be established.
  12. District Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), verdicts April-June 1875, roll no. 19693, file 75 and 76, Gerardus van den Heuvel (18 May 1875); call no. 102, Court in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Record Group 24; Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (BHIC), Den Bosch; “Criminele vonnissen,” index and images, Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (http://www.bhic.nl : accessed 23 February 2018).
  13. District Court (‘s-Hertogenbosch), verdicts December 1879, roll no. 1602, file 50, Gerardus van den Heuvel (19 December 1879); call no. 129, Record Group 24, BHIC.
  14. House of Detention (Tilburg), register of detainees, 10 August 1881-23 September 1881, register no. 371, Gerardus van den Heuvel; call no. 83, Prisons in Noord-Brabant, Record Group 57; Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum, Den Bosch; “Stamboom,” index and images, Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum (http://www.bhic.nl : accessed 24 February 2018).
  15. Penitentiary Prison (Breda), prison admission register 25 June-17 June 1883, register no. 340, Gerardus van den Heuvel; call no. 207, Prisons in Breda, Record Group 55; Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum, Den Bosch; “Stamboom,” index and images, Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum (http://www.bhic.nl : accessed 24 February 2018).
  16. Penitentiary prison (Breda), prison admittance register 25 September 1883-16 January 1885, register no. 190, Gerardus van den Heuvel; call no. 121, Record Group 55, BHIC.
  17. Penitentiary prison (Breda), prison admittance register 1897-1898, register no. 9114, Gerardus van den Heuvel; call no. 139, Record Group 55, BHIC.
  18. “Stamboom,” index and images, Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum (http://www.bhic.nl : accessed 24 February 2018).
  19. Penitentiary Prison (Breda), prison admission register 1883, register no. 340. Also, Penitentiary prison (Breda), prison admittance register 1883-1885, register no. 190. Also, Penitentiary prison (Breda), prison admittance register 1897-1898, register no. 9114.
  20. Civil registration (Princenhage), birth record 1884 no. 3, Theodora van den Heuvel (4 January 1884); “Genealogische bronnen,” index and images, Stadsarchief Breda (http://stadsarchief.breda.nl : accessed 4 December 2017).
  21.  Verdict regarding Peter Leonardus van den Heuvel, Nederlandsche Staatscourant, 31 October 1881, p. 4, col. 1; Delpher, image (http://www.delpher.nl : accessed 21 March 2018).
  22. Cadastral Municipality Breda, Series 1, Name list, entries for Van den Heuvel; “Archiefviewer,” digital images, Kadaster (http://service10.kadaster.nl/iad/ : accessed 9 January 2018); available in reading room Nationaal Archief, The Hague. Also, Cadastral Municipality Tilburg, Series 1, Name list, entries for Van den Heuvel.
  23. An employee of the Brabant provincial archives searched the death duties files for Breda for 1918 and did not find a file for Gerardus van den Heuvel. Christian van der Ven, archivist at Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum to Yvette Hoitink, email, “RE: Bestelling 423805,” 11 December 2017.
  24. “AncestryDNA Results for Els Marijnissen,” match to “J.V.,” managed by Vandera85, Ancestry (http://dna.ancestry.com : accessed 11 December 2017). Results used with permission.
  25. Civil Registration (Tilburg), birth record 1897 no. 1116, Gertruda Francisca Huberta Diddens (16 October 1897); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 11 December 2017).
  26. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage record 1896 no. 166, Diddens-Van den Heuvel (8 July 1896); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 11 December 2017).
  27. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage record 1865 no. 7, Van den Heuvel-Van Beers (9 February 1865); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 11 December 2017).
  28. Blaine Bettinger, “The Shared cM Project – Version 3.0 (August 2017),” PDF, The Genetic Genealogist (https://thegeneticgenealogist.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Shared_cM_Project_2017.pdf : accessed 11 December 2017), p.14, 3C histogram.
  29. For an explanation of Timber, see “Filtering DNA matches at AncestryDNA with Timber,” Ancestry (https://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/06/08/filtering-dna-matches-at-ancestrydna-with-timber/ : published 8 June 2015).
  30. DNA match lists for Els Marijnissen at Ancestry (http://dna.ancestry.com : accessed 26 March 2018), 23andMe (http://www.23andme.com : accessed 26 March 2018), FamilyTreeDNA (http://my.familytreeDNA.com : accessed 26 March 2018); MyHeritage (http://www.myheritage.nl : accessed 26 March 2018), GedMatch (http://www.gedmatch.com : accessed 26 March 2018).
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She has been doing genealogy for almost 25 years. Her expertise is helping people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Comments

  1. Teresa Coffman says:

    Yvette! I may be descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine, too! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I was skimming a family history written by a distant cousin in the 1970s, and came across her. I always knew this particular family history linked us to early English royalty, but I hadn’t examined it too closely, since I can’t know how seriously to take these published lineages. So I didn’t remember that she had included Eleanor. I think you’ll like what she says about her. The “comment” is the personal editorial by the author, Julia Price Reedy:

    “4. Henry II of England called Henry Fitz Conqueror, b. Mar. 5, 1133 Le Mans, France d. 1189, m. Eleanor of Aquitaine, former wife of King Louis VII of France, daughter of Count of Poitou, Duke of Aquitaine. She is referred to as the ‘greatest French woman of all time’.

    Comment: I think she was the most amazing and spectacular female in history.
    (References: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Four Kings by Amy Kelly.
    Eleanor of Aquitaine by Marion Meade. )”

  2. Doris Waggoner says:

    Yvette,

    It’s great fun to see you working toward your goal of learning if you really are descended from one of my heroines, too. I’m also learning a lot about the process of how one goes about doing this job of going back, one step at a time, in proving, or disproving, historical claims like this.

    Doris

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