Dutch term – Wees

A wees is an orphan. Sometimes you will see the term halfwees [half orphan] or volle wees [full orphan] to refer to a child who lost one or both parents, respectively. While the term wees is nowadays used for a child who lost both parents, in earlier times it could be used for a child who lost one parent. You will see references like “Jan, orphan child of Maria de Wit, assisted by his father Cornelis van Vleuten.”

Before 1811, some parts of the country had a weeskamer [orphan chamber] that oversaw the appointment of guardians and administration of the estate. In other parts of the country, this was overseen by the local court.

After 1811, you can find guardianship appointments in the court records.

A statue of a man and a woman next to the crest of Zeeland

Facade of the orphanage in Goes showing the crest of Zeeland. Photo: Yvette Hoitink

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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