Dutch Names

Before the British captured New Netherland in 1664, Dutch families did not use surnames. They took their father’s first name and added “se” as in Pieter Pieterse.

The genealogical information given in the marriage and baptism registers is often sufficient in itself to assemble a skeleton pedigree, because of the following helpful Dutch customs:

1. A couple was betrothed in the Dutch Reformed Church and then married after three
banns had been read. The betrothal (marriage intentions) and/or marriage record ordinarily gives marital status and place of origin (which is usually place of birth).

2. A woman normally (but not always) continued to use her maiden name after marriage.

3. The first two children of each sex were often (but not always) named for the four grandparents.

4. Children were baptized shortly after birth and usually had relatives as godparents.
(Source: The New York Genealogical & Biographical Newsletter, Summer 1996)

Therefore, it was customary for Dutch couples to name children after their own respective parents, alternating between paternal and maternal grandparents, often in an orderly fashion, but not always.

If the first child was a son he would have likely been named after his paternal grandfather, then usually the eldest daughter would be named for the maternal grandmother, but once again not necessarily. Since they also tended to have large families, it was not unusual to find a child named for each of the four grandparents and not always in some preordained order.

However, the British capture of New Netherland in 1664 marked the beginning of the end of the Dutch patronymic system in the colonies and the introduction of surnames. However, it appears to have been a slow phased process implemented in the last quarter of the 17th century, with some Dutch families adopting their new surnames sooner than others.

Like French and like German, Dutch apparently has dipthongs and gutturals … but they’re not the same dipthongs and gutturals, so we can’t make any assumptions along those lines.  Here are the few pointers I’ve accumulated (a/k/a the essence of my ignorance):

  • As in English, the first syllable of a word receives the emphasis more often than not.
  • E is generally pronounced like an English hard A; double-EEs are invariably like a hard A.
  • Double-OOs are pronounced like hard Os (ROWS not ROOZ).
  • Double-AAs are pronounced like soft As.
  • Vowel combinations such as EU and OE … are impossible to describe coherently.
  • Letter Gs are neither hard nor soft, but almost nonexistent; you’re better off to think of a sharply-attacked letter H.
  • Letter Js are pronounced like Ys, except…
  • The IJ combination apparently usually sounds like a hard A.
  • The SCH combination sounds like SHK.
Given Names
Dutch Name Pronounciation English Equivalent
Aeltje OWLT-yeh
Anneke AHN-ne-keh Anna
Antje Diminutive form of Anna
Arie Diminutive of Adrian
Arjan AR-yan
Berend BAYR-end
Berendina BAYR-en-DEEN-uh
Betje BAYT-yeh Betty
Boudewyn BOW-de-wayn Baldwin
Brevoort Bray-FORT
Claes KLAYS Claude
Constantija Kon-STAN-tee-yah Constance
Cornelis Kor-NAYL-eess Cornelius
Derk DAYRK Dirk
Dries DREESS Andrew
Emke AIM-keh
Engelbertus AIN-hel-BAYR-tus
Geertruid Hayr-TROWDT Gertrude
Gerrit Hay-REET Gerard
Geertje Diminutive form of Gertrude
Gesina Hay-SEEN-ah
Gosselick HOSS-uh-LEEK
Greetje Diminutive form of Margaret
Harmanus HAR-man-us
Hendrickje Feminine form of Hendrick
Jaap YAHP Jacob
Jan YAHN John
Janna YAHN-nuh Johanna
Janneke Feminine form of Jan
Jannetje Feminine form of Jan
Jenneken YAY-neh-ken Joan
Karel KAH-rel Charles
Lodewyk LOW-de-wik Ludwig/Louis
Lotje LAHT-yeh Charlotte
Machtel MAK-tull Matilda
Marijke Mar-AY-keh Maria
Marinus MAR-uh-nus
Mathijs Mat-TICE Matthew
Petrus PAY-truss Peter
Pier Dutch form of Peter, used especially in Flanders.
Powles POW-less Paul
Roosje ROW-sheh Rosie
Rykert RY-kayrt Richard
Saal SAHL Saul
Teunis TEH-niss Diminutive form of Anthony
Teuntje Feminine form of Anthony
Theunis Varient of Teunis
Toontje TOANT-yeh Antonia
Tryntje Diminutive form of Catherine
Vrijdag FRY-dah Friday
Willem VIL-lum William
Willemina VIL-lum-MEEN-uh
Wouter VOH-ter Walter



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1 Response to Dutch Names

  1. Pingback: Favorite Posts 2011 | Miner Descent

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