Netherlands Church RecordsEdit This Page
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Church records [DTB] are the main sources for births, marriages and deaths in the Netherlands between about 1550 and 1811.They recorded baptisms(or circumcisions), marriages and burials and sometimes confirmations, membership records and conversions.
In the late 1500s Churches began to mandate that registers of baptisms and marriages were kept. Burials were often not recorded at first. Records do not always exist for the period before 1700.
Records kept by Catholics are written in Latin. Most other records will be written in Dutch.
The main types of Church records are
- Lidmaten(List of Parish Members)
Church records are arranged by religion. Most people in the Netherlands belonged to either the Dutch Reformed(Nederduits Gereformeerd) or Roman Catholic Churches. Some belonged to other religions such as Lutherans, Mennonites(Doopsgezinde) or were Jews(Jooden). See the page Netherlands Church History for more information about different religions in the Netherlands.
Church records are crucial for pre-1811 Dutch research. Church records continued to be kept after the introduction of civil registration,but are not kept by the Family History Library and are generally difficult to access. After 1811 they were mostly superseded by Civil Registration
From about 1550 onwards, Churches started to keep registers of infants that had been baptized. Catholics were usually baptized within two days of birth. Protestants may have waited until a Sunday. Mennonites/Doopsgezinden only baptized adults.
Earlier registers typically give less information, sometimes including only the child’s and father’s names and the baptism date. Earlier records do not always name the mother, or give only her first name.
Because of social conditions in the Netherlands, the birth of illegitimate children was not uncommon.
The Following information will usually be found in a baptism record:
- The name of the baptized
- The date of the baptism, and sometimes the date of birth
- The name of the parents, or at least the father's name
- The name of the witnesses or godparents
- The place of birth and/or baptism
- Whether the child was legitimate or illegitimate
Remember, not all of this information will always be there, especially the names of witnesses and the place/date of birth. The main date on the record will be that of the baptism, not the birth. Most baptism records do not have a birth date.
Catholics have their First Communion at age 6 or 7 and their Second Communion at age 12. Protestants have their confirmation at about age 15. Most confirmation registers merely list the names of those being confirmed and the confirmation date.
Marriages [Trouwens or Huwelijken]
Marriage registers list all newly married couples. They started to be kept in the late 1500s. The earliest marriage records may give only the names of the bride and groom and have little or no information about the couple’s parents. Couples were usually married in the residence parish of the bride, though they usually went to live in the residence place of the groom. Typically, women married for the first time in their early to late twenties. Men typically married for the first time in their mid-twenties to early thirties.
In most areas, every marriage was required to be registered in the Dutch Reformed Church or at the Court, regardless of the religion of the bride and groom. Only afterwards could they marry in the religion of their choice. Some Catholics married only in the Dutch Reformed Church or court, and not in the Catholic church. Thus you may find multiple marriage records for a single couple.
The following information may be found in a pre-1811 marriage entry:
- The names of the bride and groom
- The date of the marriage.
- Whether they were single, widowed or divorced at the time of marriage.
- The names of the witnesses.
- The place of their births (or where they were residing when married).
- Their residence and occupation
- The date of the marriage proclamations or banns.
- The names of previous spouses.
- If the groom was a member of the military, the regiment or name of the commanding officer.
In later registers, especially after 1794, the following may be recorded.
- The names of their parents.
- The date of their births (or their age at the time of marriage).
Catholic marriage registers tend to be very simplistic, often containing only names.
Marriage Supplements [Trouwbijlagen]
Especially after 1794 there may be marriage supplements. These will contain evidence of deaths of former spouses and the names of parents(for parental consent). Other information may be found.
Marriage Tax [Impost op Trouwen]
In the province of Holland a tax on marriages was imposed from 1695 to 1805. If you do not locate your ancestor’s marriage in any other source, look in the marriage tax records. See the "Taxation" section for more information.
Marriage Banns [Ondertrouw].
In addition to the actual marriage registers, many churches in the Netherlands kept records of marriage intentions. These records are called 'marriage banns'. Often the marriage intention date and marriage date are recorded in the same register.
Marriage registers sometimes give the three dates on which intended marriages were announced (either read out loud or posted in church). These announcements, called banns, gave other community members a chance to object to the marriage, if necessary.
Burials were recorded in the parish where the person was buried. The burial usually took place within a few days of death. In some places burial records started long before baptisms and marriages but in most places they start quite late, often well into the 1700s. In most places people of all religions had to be buried in the Dutch Reformed Church or in the Catholic Church, depending on which was dominant in that town.
The following information will usually be found in a burial record
- The date of burial
- The name of the deceased
- The spouse of the deceased
- The age, especially if the deceased is a child
- The parents if the deceased is a child
- The tax paid, which was determined by their wealth and ability to pay
Some records, especially later records after 1794 may contain
- Cause of death
- Place of residence or death
Church account books [kerkrekeningen] often give details about burials.
Membership Records [Lidmaten]
Most churches kept a record of their members, usually organized by village or street. The records contain members’ names, dates of confessions of faith, and dates of arrival from other parishes. They may also contain death dates, dates members left the parish, communion lists, or names of those partaking of the sacrament or attending catechism school. The records of members arriving or departing are of great value as they mention the town or parish the member came from or moved to, which helps to then locate further records.
Membership records are usually in the archive of the church council [kerkeraad] of the parish. Sometimes they are part of the baptism or marriage register.
Church Council Minutes [Kerkeraadshandelingen]
Minutes of the church council can provide important information about your ancestor. They usually contain ministers’ names and dates of service, appointments of elders and other parish officials, disciplinary actions, names of fathers of illegitimate children, and money paid for the poor.
Certificates of indemnity or surety [akten van indemniteit] were sometimes issued to church members moving to a new town. The certificates guaranteed that the former parish would receive the people back in case they became poor.
Finding Netherlands Church Records
Essentially all Netherlands Church records from before 1811 are now online. This section gives instructions on where to find them and how to search them.
You should search first for indexes, transcriptions and images broken down by year. The following sites are where you will find these if they exist for the particular church.
- Provincial, Regional and City archives, see the Netherlands City Archives page. Most provincial archives now have search engines for Church records.
- Zoekakten, see below and on its wiki page. The indexes will be under 'Indexen DTB' for each place.
FamilySearch has put online all Netherlands church records with only very few exceptions(for example, some burials from Amsterdam). But the way the films are arranged can be confusing, so Zoekakten was created to make it easier to find Netherlands records on FamilySearch. See the Zoekakten page on this wiki for further details on how to use Zoekakten.
Note that in rural areas some records are not in the place you would expect, so search in a town and its surrounding towns.
Also on this wiki are the articles pertaining to the actual Record Collections on FamilySearch.
Records at the Family History Library
For the few records not on Zoekakten/FamilySearch, try the Family Search catalog. Search not only under the 'Church Records' category but under related categories such as 'Cemeteries'.
Indexes at the Family History Library
- Church and Civil Records of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, before 1811.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1975. (FHL book 929.1 G286gs ser. C no. 25; fiche 6000355–6000356.)
The Family History Library has collected many indexes to Dutch church records. These are listed in the Place search of the catalog under:
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – CHURCH RECORDS – INDEXES
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN] – CHURCH RECORDS – INDEXES
Church record inventories are essential tools for finding Dutch records. They identify records that are available, their location, and the years they cover. The following source, prepared by the Central Office for Genealogy, lists all known church records of the Netherlands:
- Wijnaendts van Resandt, Willem. Repertorium DTB: Globaal Overzicht van de Nederlandse Doop–, Trouw– en Begraafregisters e.d. van voor de Invoering van de Burgerlijke Stand (Concise Repertory of Dutch Parish Registers, etc.). 2nd ed. ’s-Gravenhage: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, 1980. (FHL book Ref 949.2 K2w 1980.) It can be accessed on the website of the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie at this link.
Church record inventories are also available for each province in the Netherlands. They are listed in the Place search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
NETHERLANDS – CHURCH RECORDS – INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – CHURCH RECORDS – INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
To use church records, you must know both your ancestor’s religion and the town where he or she lived.
Some gazetteers indicate parish jurisdictions. For more information, see the "Gazetteers" section and the section below, which discusses church record inventories.
A small village that did not have its own church was usually assigned to a parish in a nearby larger town. Consequently, your ancestor may have lived in one village but belonged to a parish in another town. This is particularly true of Roman Catholic parishes. In predominant Dutch Reformed Church areas, Roman Catholic records include people for a wide area.
Search Strategies and Tips
- Useful tips about different religions in the Netherlands can be found on Netherlands Church History
- Protestants(excepts Huguenots/Wallonia Reformed and Lutherans) wrote their records in Dutch. See Netherlands Language and Languages and Netherlands Handwriting
- Huguenots/Wallonia Reformed and a few French Catholics wrote their records in French. See French Wordlist
- Catholics wrote their records in Latin. See Latin Genealogical Word List
- Lutherans wrote their records in German. SeeGermany Handwriting
- Mothers will almost certainly be referred to by her maiden name but this is not always true for witnesses/sponsors/godparents.
- Don't assume people went to the nearest church, especially in rural areas. Always search the neighboring towns.
- Names in Catholic records will be Latinised, especially first names. For example Hendrik Bakker may become Hendricus Pistorius.
- Remember that some names are very common(e.g. Jan Jansz). Don't assume that just because their names are the same that they are the same people. If their are multiple people born around the same time that you cannot distinguish, use these tips:
- Look at the names of their parents and their mothers maiden name
- Look at the names of the witnesses to their marriages and the baptisms of their children. These are often siblings.
- Look at burial records to see if any of them died as a baby or child
- Sometimes Baptisms and Marriages were recorded in the same book
- Ondertrouwen(The Marriage banns) were recorded in the residences of both the bride and groom, but the actual marriage was recorded only in the residence of the bride.
- Everyone had to marry before the Dutch Reformed Church or court. They could then marry in their own religion but did not always, due to legal reasons.
- The Marriage banns system only applies to marriages in the Dutch Reformed Church. For other religions there will only be one marriage-in the residence of the bride
- The first child is often born illegitimately or within 9 months of marriage. It is rare for a couple to be childless 2 years after marriage.
- Gaps between children tend to be 12-24 months while the women is young, but stretch out to as much as every 5 years when she is older.
- Be aware of naming traditions. The first son should be names after the father's father and the first daughter after the mothers mother. The second son and second daughter should be named after the other two grandparents
- Unless two of the grandparents had the same name, two siblings alive at the same time should not have the same given name. If two children in a family received the same name, it probably means the elder died.
- Always search for all the siblings in a family so that you can use the above two points and for the witnesses/godparents who were usually relatives.
- Be sure you know where you get information from. Note down the precise church. Note the number of the book(RBS number) and the name of the parish.
- This page was last modified on 15 August 2015, at 05:08.
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