Was Eleanor of Aquitaine my Ancestor? Generation 7 – Laurens Smulders

This is the eighth 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 third great-grandmother Dorothea Smulders was the daughter of Laurens Smulders.

Laurens Smulders, son of Hendrik Smulders

Dorothea’s baptismal, marriage, and death records named her parents as Laurens Sm(e)ulders and Joanna Maria de Bont and showed she was baptized in Tilburg on 21 November 1809.1 She was a legitimate child, so her parents married before 22 November 1809; before the introduction of the civil registration in 1811. Church or court records should provide their marriage record.

An extract of her father’s death record in her marriage supplements and her father’s death duties file showed Laurens Smulders died in Tilburg on 20 August 1832.2 Since Laurens was born and married before the introduction of the civil registration, his death record is the only civil registration record that should be available.

Death record

According to his death record, Laurens Smulders died in Tilburg on 20 August 1832. He was a weaver, 47 years old, born in Tilburg, living in Tilburg at the Oostheikant no. 844, son of Hendrikus Smulders and Anna Maria Heijkants, both deceased, and husband of Anna Maria de Bont. The informants were his brother-in-law Josephus de Bont and a neighbor named Laurens Elesen.3 They would have had first-hand knowledge of his death, but the information about his birth and parents may be less reliable. Laurens Smulders’ name, spouse, and place and date of death match the information in Dorothea Smulders’ marriage supplements and in Laurens’ death duties file, proving this is the correct record.

Death record of Laurens Smulders

Marriage record

Laurens Smulders married Anna Maria de Bont on 13 July 1807 before the alderman’s court of Tilburg. Their marriage record calls him Laurens Smulders, age 24, born and living in this location, weaver, assisted by his father Hendrik Smulders who consented to the marriage.Anna is the Dutch version of the Latin Joanna.

This record shows that Laurens’ father was still alive when he married Anna Maria de Bont. Her brother Josephus de Bont, the informant for Laurens’ death record, would have known him. Laurens Smulders and Anna Maria de Bont both came from Tilburg so the families knew each other. That makes the brother-in-law a reliable informant.

Civil marriage record of Laurens Smulders and Anna Maria de Bont

Roman Catholic marriages were not recognized by the civil authorities, so Laurens and Anna Maria had to marry in a Dutch Reformed Church or before the aldermen’s court. On the same day as their civil marriage, they also married in the Goirke Roman Catholic church in Tilburg. The Roman Catholic marriage register identifies them as Laurentius Smeulders and Anna Maria de Bont. Adriana Luijten and Catharina Schoffers witnessed their marriage.5

Roman Catholic marriage record

Baptismal record

Only one baptismal record was found in the index of Tilburg baptisms for a Laurens, son of Hendrik Smulders in the 1780s. On 5 March 1784, Laurentius, the legitimate son of Henricus Smeulders and Maria Hijkans was baptized in the St. Dionysius parish in Tilburg.6 Laurentius and Henricus are the Latin forms of Laurens and Hendrik, used in Roman Catholic records. The parents’ names are a close match to those in Laurens’ death record.

Most children were baptized within days or weeks of being born, so Laurens would probably have been 23 when he married, not 24 as the marriage record indicated. Such minor discrepancies are not uncommon in this period since there was no requirement to provide extracts of the baptismal records before the marriage could be performed.

Baptismal record of Laurentius Smeulders

Parents’ marriage record

Hendrikus Jan Smulders married Johanna Maria Laurens Heijkants on 15 June 1777. This is the only marriage for a man named Hendrik Smulders and variations to Maria Heijkant or variations in that time and place.7

The marriage record shows that the bride went by Johanna Maria, a variation of Anna Maria. Her patronymic Laurens shows she was a daughter of Laurens, suggesting Laurens Smulders was named after his maternal grandfather.

Marriage record of Hendrikus Jan Smulders and Johanna Maria Laurens Heijkants

Children’s names

Laurens Smulders and Anna Maria had a daughter Anna Maria, born 28 February 1814, and a son Hendricus, born 24 January 1817.8 They were apparently named after their paternal grandparents. In this time and place, children were usually named after close relatives.

In most cases in the Netherlands, the oldest son would have been named after the paternal grandfather, but some families only did that after that grandfather passed away. According to his death record, Hendrik Smulders, the widower of Johanna Maria Heijkants, died on 24 December 1816. That was just a month before Hendricus was born, which explains why he was named after his grandfather and not the first two sons.The timing of the naming of that son provides indirect evidence that this Hendrik Smulders was indeed Laurens’ father. Anna Maria Heijkants died in 1799, before Laurens gave his second daughter that name.10 It appears that this family only gave children names of deceased relatives.

Census records

“Laurent Smeulders” was living in the hamlet of Oostheijkant in Tilburg during the 1810 census. He worked as a weaver.11  Laurent is the French version of the Dutch Laurens.

Also in that hamlet was “Henri Smulders,” the French version of Hendrik Smulders. Henri was a 60-year-old weaver, living with his sons Nicolas (20), a weaver, and Antoine (16 1/2) and daughters Marie Catrine (22) and Gerardine (15).12  Their names and their ages closely resemble Nicolaas (baptized 3 August 1789), Antonius (baptized 8 January 1792), Maria Catharina (baptized 25 September 1786), and Gerdina (baptized 13 September 1795), the Latin names by which the children of Hendrik Jan Smulders and Joanna Maria Heijkants were baptized, proving that this Henri Smulders in the 1810 census was the same as Hendrik Smulders, the husband of Joanna Maria Heijkants.13

This shows that Laurens Smulders lived in the same hamlet as Hendrik Smulders in 1810 and both were working in the textile industry. They were of similar social standing, consistent with them being father and son.

Henri Smulders household in the 1810 census

Marriage records of siblings

Three of the children of Hendrik Smulders and Anna Maria Heijkant married after the introduction of the civil registration: Maria Catharina Smeulders (married in 1814), Antonie Smeulders (married 1814), and Gerarda Smeulders (married in 1834). Their marriage records identified their parents as Hendrik Smeulders and Maria Heijkant or Hijkant.14 This shows that Anna Maria Heijkant also went by Maria Heijkant, the name of Laurens’ mother according to his death record.

Cadastral records

In 1832, the kadaster was introduced in the Netherlands, the office that registered who owned which property. At the start of the registration, the whole country was plotted. Each cadastral municipality was split up in sections, and each section into plots. A series of Minuutplans [minute plans] was created for each section to show the location of each plot. Oorspronkelijke Aanwijzende Tafels [Original Indicator Tables] recorded who owned which plot, how the plot was used, and how much tax was owed.

The original indicator table for the Heikant section of Tilburg shows that “Louwerens H: Smulders” owned two plots there in 1832:

  • Section A 904, a yard
  • Section A 905, a house.15

Original Indicator Table

Sheet 3 of the minute maps of this section shows the exact location of these plots.16 We see that the yard was located behind the house on plot A 905, which was located on the Moerstraat [Moer street]. The house is attached to another house, or perhaps these plots form two halves of the same house.

Minute map (detail)

The cadastral administration maintained a register to record all the plots a person owned in a particular municipality, the artikelsgewijze legger [article-based ledger], including any changes. Laurens Smulders’ property ownership was recorded as article 1355a. It showed that “Laurens Hindrik Smulders” owned the following plots in Tilburg:

  1. A 904, yard, 5 “roede” 40 “ellen.” Sold. To 171/47.
  2. A 905, house and courtyard, 2 r 25 e. Sold. To 171/48.
    total 7 r 65 e.
  3. A 712, yard, 11 r 90 e, from article 1344/1. United. To 1355a/5.
  4. A 713, house, shed, and courtyard, 2 e 30 r, from article 1344/2. United. To 1355a/5.
    Total 1833-1839: 21 r 85r.
    Total 1842: 14 r 20 e
  5. A 1720, garden, 14 r 20 e, from 1355a/3,4, to 2786/2.
    Total 1844 14 r 20 e
    Total 1847 —17

This cryptic list of numbers and letters means that initially in 1832, Laurens owned plots A 904 and 905, which matches the original indicating table. Their total size was 7 “roede” [rods] and 65 “ellen” [ells]. Despite the old names, these were metric measures, so he owned a total of 7.65 ares [0.19 acres]. By 1833, he had acquired another yard and house, A 712 and A 713, bringing his total acreage for the next couple of years to 21.9 ares [approx. 0.54 acres]. He then sold A 904 and 905 by 1842, bringing his total down to 14.2 are [0.35 acres]. By 1844, he combined these two plots into one new plot that only had a garden. Apparently, the house was no longer there. By 1847, he no longer had the property.

Article-based ledger

The article-based ledger showed the owner as “Laurens Hindrik Smulders.” In this time and place, people did not have middle names but patronymics, indicating that Laurens’ father was Hindrik, a variation of Hendrik. This provides direct evidence that the property owner in 1832 was the son of Hendrik. A search of Tilburg indexes showed there was only one man named Laurens Smulders in Tilburg in 1832,18 so the property owner must have been Dorothea Smulders’ father.

Laurens died in 1832, which is apparently at odds with the purchase and sale of property between 1833 and 1847. However, the cadastral registration often only updated the article-based ledgers when the estate was settled. As long as the heirs kept paying the taxes, there was no need to change the ledgers, though sometimes the name was changed to the heirs of, or the widow of. Anna Maria de Bont died on 24 April 1846,19 suggesting their estate was only settled after her death. That explains why the final entry is the blank entry for 1847 showing Laurens Smulders [or his estate] no longer owned property.

Whenever boundaries changed, an auxiliary map was drawn showing the new boundaries. An auxiliary map was created when plots A 712 and 713 were joined to form the garden A 1720. The auxiliary map documented multiple boundary changes on sheet 3 of the minute plan of section A of Tilburg in 1832. The part of the map showing Laurens Smulders’ plots shows that the boundary between the plots was erased, and so was the building. The table explains that the plots were joined by reason of demolition, indicating that the house was torn down. The map is dated 5 November 1842.20 The plots were probably joined around that time, either earlier or later, since it sometimes took a while for these maps to be compiled. Surveyors often made drafts and only turned them into proper maps when they had several.

Auxiliary map

Auxiliary map (detail)

We can see on the minute plan that plots A 712 and 713 (later A 1720) were just across the street and to the left of plots A 903 and 904.

Using landmarks on the map, the map was overlayed on Google Earth to determine the exact location of plots 904 and 905.21 The overlay over the satellite image shows that there is a field on the location of A 712 and 713 and modern housing has been built over the location of A 904 and 905 since 1832. Even though the houses no longer exist, knowing their exact location may be helpful in proving Laurens’ parents if he inherited the property.


Overlay of the minute map on Google Earth

Notarial records

When you find ancestors who owned property, finding out how they acquired the land can help to find evidence of parentage, for example if they inherited the land. Land records may also have different families jointly selling or purchasing land, which can provide evidence of kinship.

Notarial records show how Laurens Smulders came to own this property. On 20 February 1824, Anna Maria de Bont, the wife of Laurens Smulders, purchased half a house and yard at the Oostheijkant in Tilburg from her aunt Jennemaria Adriaan de Bont. Included in the purchase was a chest, a food cupboard, a small copper kettle, an iron kettle, a water stove, a feather bed and pillows, three bed sheets, a bobbin, and a reel.22

1824 purchase of half a house

On 25 November 1831, Laurens Smulders purchased a piece of land from manufacturer Jan Baptist Horvers. The record describes that it was a small piece of land, on which had formerly stood a house, located at the Moerstraat in the Oostheikant district of Tilburg. The purchase price was 66 guilders. Laurens was illiterate and unable to sign his name.23

25 November 1831 purchase of land

On 6 April 1846, his widow Johanna Maria de Bont and their children Cornelis, Dorothea, the wife of Gerardus van den Heuvel, Johanna Maria, and Hendrik sold  that farm land. The notarial record gives the location as A 1720.24

1846 sale of farmland

The house and yard purchased in 1824 must have been A 903 and A 904. Since it was purchased before the introduction of the cadastral administration, the notarial record did not have the plot number. The description of half a house fits with the minute plan, that shows the house abutted another house. The house purchased in 1831 and sold as farm land was A 712 and 713, later combined to A 1720. This shows that neither of the properties came from Laurens Smulders’ side of the family, so they don’t provide a link to an earlier generation.

The 1846 sale record confirms that Dorothea Smulders, the wife of Gerardus van den Heuvel, is the daughter of Laurens Smulders and Johanna Maria de Bont. Johanna Maria de Bont signed the record; her children were unable to sign. Johanna Maria de Bont died twenty days after this sale.25

Death duties file

The death duties file created after Laurens Smulders death reports that he owned no real estate when he died on 20 August 1832.26

That is inconsistent with the cadastral and notarial records. The property purchased from Jennemaria Adriaan de Bont in 1824 was purchased by Anna Maria de Bont, but since they were married it was their joint property. The property purchased in 1831 was purchased by Laurens himself. It seems possible that they did not report the property since they considered it to be Anna Maria de Bont’s property, or because they wanted to evade death duties. This example demonstrates that just because a death duties file does not mention real estate, does not mean it cannot pay off to search for land transactions in notarial and cadastral records.

Death duties file of Laurens Smulders

Other records

No court or notarial records were found that mentioned Hendrik and Laurens in the same record.27 Hendrik was listed in the death duties overview of deceased persons for whom no death duties file was created, so there was no death duties file that could have named Laurens as his son.28 The absence of a file indicates that the value of his estate was too low to have to pay death duties.

List of people who died but for whom no death duties declaration was filed


Compared to the later generations, it is starting to take more effort to develop the evidence. Church records are not as informative as the later civil registration records. For example, the marriage record only listed the father, without his age or occupation, and did not include the mother’s name. Indirect evidence from naming patterns and social status becomes more important to build the case, and records of family members need to be mined for clues. Research in this period also requires knowledge of different languages: the Roman Catholic church records were in Latin, the 1810 census was in French, and the other records were in Dutch.

The death record of Laurens Smulders identified his parents as Hendrikus Smulders and Anna Maria Heijkants. His marriage record and cadastral records confirmed that his father was Hendrik or Hindrik Smulders, a variation of the name. One baptismal record was found for a Laurens Smulders, born to a Hendrik, and he had Maria Heijkant as a mother. Marriage records of his siblings and parents showed that Anna Maria Heijkant was also known as Maria and Johanna Maria. The naming patterns also fit: Laurens was apparently named after his maternal grandfather, and he himself named children Anna Maria and Hendricus, apparently after his parents. Laurens lived in the same hamlet and was of similar social status as Hendrik Smulders in 1810. No evidence was found to suggest Laurens had different parents. This body of evidence proves that Laurens Smulders was indeed the son of Hendrik Smulders and Anna Maria Heijkant.

That’s seven generations down, 21 to go. We’re a quarter of the way back to Eleanor!

Next up: Generation 8 – Hendrik Smulders.


  1. St. Dionysiusparochie Roman Catholic Parish (Goirke, Tilburg), baptismal register 1775-1810, fol. 160v, Dorothea Smeulders (21 november 1809); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016). Also, civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage record 1835 no. 65, Van den Heuvel-Smulders (2 July 1835); “Zoek een Persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 26 December 2008). Also, 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).
  2. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage supplements 1835 no. 65, Van den Heuvel-Smulders (2 July 1835); “Netherlands, Noord-Brabant Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1942,” browsable images, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : accessed 3 December 2017). Also, Death Duties Office (Tilburg), vol. 35, record 241, Laurens Smulders (11 December 1832); Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum (BHIC), Den Bosch; scans provided by BHIC.
  3.  Civil Registration (Tilburg), death record 1832 no. 195, Laurens Smulders (20 augustus 1832); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  4. Aldermen’s Court (Tilburg), marriage register 1801-1810, p. 108, Smulders-De Bont (27 June 1807); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  5. ‘t Goirke Roman Catholic Parish (Tilburg), marriage register 1762-1890, Smeulders-De Bont (13 July 1807); “Zoek in registers,” browsable images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 14 March 2018).
  6. St. Dionysius Roman Catholic Church (Tilburg), baptismal register 1775-1810, p. 61, Laurentius Smeulders (5 March 1784); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  7. Aldermen’s Court (Tilburg), marriage register 1772-1787, p. 159, Smulders-Heijkant (31 May 1777); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  8. Civil Registration (Tilburg), birth record 1814 no. 54 and 1817 no. 33; “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 11 December 2017).
  9. Civil Registration (Tilburg), death record 1816 no. 232, Hendrik Smulders (26 December 1816); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 11 December 2017).
  10. Dutch Reformed Church (Tilburg), register of burials 1783-1803, fol. 46, Maria Heijkants (5 March 1799); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 3 December 2017).
  11. Tilburg, 1810 census, vol. 2, p. 435, entries 5644-5648, household of Laurent Smulders; “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  12. Tilburg, 1810 census, vol. 2, p. 478, entries 6207-6211, household of Henri Smulders; “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  13. St. Dionysius Roman Catholic Church (Tilburg), baptismal register 1775-1810; “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  14. Civil Registration (Tilburg), marriage record 1814 no. 57 (Niesten-Smeulders), 1814 no. 62 (Smeulders-Evers), 1834 no. 92 (De Lauw-Smeulders); “Zoek een persoon,” index and images, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 10 December 2017).
  15. Cadastral Municipality of Tilburg, Original Indicator Table, section A, sheet 26, plots 904 and 905; “Beeldbank,” images, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (http://beeldbank.cultureelerfgoed.nl : accessed 21 February 2018), image OAT10153A026.
  16. Cadastral Municipality of Tilburg, Minute Map, section A, sheet 3, plots 904 and 905; “Beeldbank,” images, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (http://beeldbank.cultureelerfgoed.nl : accessed 21 February 2018), image MIN10153A03.
  17. Cadastral Municipality of Tilburg, article-based ledger, article 1355a, Laurens Hindrik Smulders; “Archiefviewer,” digital images, Kadaster (http://service10.kadaster.nl/iad/ : accessed 9 January 2018); available in reading room Nationaal Archief, The Hague.
  18. “Zoek een persoon,” index, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 21 February 2018), entries for L*ren* Sm*lders.
  19. Civil Registration (Tilburg), death record 1846 no. 85, Anna Maria de Bont (25 April 1846); “Zoek een persoon,” index, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  20. Cadastral Municipality of Tilburg, section A, sheet 3, auxiliary map 244, archive 24, plot A 1720; “Archiefviewer,” digital images, Kadaster (http://service10.kadaster.nl/iad/ : accessed 9 January 2018); available in reading room Nationaal Archief, The Hague.
  21. Google Earth Pro v. (Windows), satellite view of Tilburg (Netherlands); citing “Dataglobe.”
  22. Johan Adriaan van Meurs, public notary (Tilburg), minutes 1813-1847, 1824 no. 29, De Bont sale (20 February 1824); “Zoek een persoon,” index, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 3 December 2017).
  23. Pieter Gerard Molengraeff, public notary (Tilburg), minutes 1831, no. 98, Smulders purchase (25 November 1831); “Zoek een persoon,” index, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 20 May 2018).
  24. Johan Adriaan van Meurs, public notary (Tilburg), minutes 1813-1847, 1846 no. 8, Smulders sale (6 April 1846).
  25. Civil Registration (Tilburg), death record 1846 no. 85, Johanna Maria de Bont (25 April 1846).
  26. Death Duties Office (Tilburg), vol. 35, record 241, Laurens Smulders (11 December 1832); Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (BHIC), Den Bosch; scan provided by BHIC.
  27. “Zoek een persoon,” index, Regionaal Archief Tilburg (http://www.regionaalarchieftilburg.nl : accessed 7 May 2016).
  28. Death Duties Office (Tilburg), register of deceased who died but have not done a declaration, entry for Hendrik Smulders (24 December 1816); Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum (BHIC), Den Bosch; scan provided by BHIC.
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Wow, seven generations! You’ve reached 1800. Now without Civil Registration, I imagine the going will get harder.

    I love the minute map overlaid on Google Maps. Did you do that yourself? How?

    • I used Google Earth to do the overlay. You can add your own layers and then resize and rotate to align it, and use transparency to see through. It can be finicky since maps from the early 1800s weren’t perfect.

  2. Shirley Crampton says

    What perseverance!! I applaud your efforts. I learned about some resources that I was not aware of by reading this.

  3. Scott Wilds says

    I’m lovin’ it!

  4. I’ve really been enjoying your posts, Yvette, and I’m learning about lots of different records I didn’t know about before. I also enjoyed seeing the overlay on Google Earth.

  5. Really interesting work, I’m enjoying it,

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