South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Collection Time Period
This collection dates from 1660 through 1970.
The Dutch Reform Church records have been maintained in good condition. Baptisms and marriages are found in different registration formats; most are written in Dutch, though others are in Afrikaans, Dutch, or English. Deaths records are not found among these registers.
When South Africa was settled by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries, they transplanted their Dutch Reformed theology into the African continent. The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa was formally established in 1652 and became the only official church in South Africa until 1778, when freedom of public worship was given to other churches. The history of the Dutch Reform Church has been very much bound up with the politics of the Afrikaner community of South Africa. The baptism and marriage records are recorded in bound registers, which are kept at the local churches archive in care of the registrar. Since 1928 the registrar sends the registries to be archived at the Central Archive of the Dutch Reformed Church in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa consists of three separate churches: the Nederduitse Gereformeede Kerk (the largest and usually called the Dutch Reform Church; the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk (largely restricted to the Transvaal); and the Gereformeede Kerk in Suid Afrika (the Doppers). During the 17th and 18th Centuries the Dutch Reform Church (Nederduitse Gereformeede Kerk) was the only officially recognized Church denomination in South Africa and practically all the whites in the Cape belonged to it. In the following Centuries, several other churches denominations were created in Cape, leaving a decline in the membership of the Dutch Reform Church.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- Reformed churches. South Africa, Cape Province Dutch Reformed Church registers. Cape Dutch Reformed Church Archives, Grey's Pass, Cape Town, South Africa.
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The key genealogical facts found in most baptismal records are:
- Name of principal
- Date of birth
- Date of baptism
- Parents' names and sometimes their address
- Complete witness’ names and sometimes their addresses
- Registration place
The key genealogical facts found in most marriages records are:
- Names of groom and bride
- Date of marriage
- Age at time of marriage
- Country of birth
- Civil status at time of marriage
- Residence at time of marriage
- Place of marriage
How to Use the Records
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s in the records, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family.
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- Use the parents’ birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the child being baptized, the bride, or the groom; this is especially helpful if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one marriage record to another record.
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers, 1660-1970," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XKHS-PVJ : accessed 1 May 2012), Maria Gysberta Jacoba Klerck (1863).
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