The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. Members of this class had titles such as Baron [Baron], Duke [Hertog], Count [Graaf], and Knight (Sir) [Ridder]. Noble status was usually inherited. It originated with people who had power, influence, and land in ancient times or who received a grant of nobility from a king.
Most family traditions of a noble ancestor turn out, on investigation, to have little foundation in fact. Most members of the noble class did not emigrate to the United States. In addition, contrary to prevailing opinion, it was not customary to disown members of noble families for unacceptable behavior. Thus, traditions of an ancestor being "erased" or eliminated from "all records" are unfounded. Illegitimate children, while not entitled to noble status, were often recorded (although the father may not have been named) and can be found in the records.
The noble class formed only a small percentage of the population of the Netherlands, and the growth of the noble class was limited. Laws specified which children of the nobility inherited their parents’ status.
Although some original records such as grants of nobility still exist, you can adequately accomplish most nobility research by using compiled sources. These include published or manuscript genealogies of noble families. The noble class has been anxious to preserve its identity. This has led to the publication of most noble lines of the Netherlands. If your ancestor was of the noble class, the following books may help you in your research:
Hoge Raad van Adel (Nederland). De Nederlandse Adel: Besluiten en Wapenbeschrijvingen (The Dutch Nobility: Royal Grants and Description of Coats-of-Arms). ’s-Gravenhage: SDU, 1989. (FHL book 949.2 D5h.) This book was prepared by the High Court of Nobility.
Nederland’s Adelsboek (The Netherlands’ Nobility Book). 86 vol. ’s-Gravenhage: W. P. van Stockum & Zoon, 1903–1997. (FHL book 949.2 D55na; some volumes on film.) This periodical contains genealogies of Dutch royalty and nobility.
See also the "Heraldry" and "Genealogy" sections. The Family History Library has collected many records of noble families. These records are listed in the Place search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
NETHERLANDS – NOBILITY
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE] – NOBILITY
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN] – NOBILITY