South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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See the section FamilySearch Historical Record Collections for a
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Title in the Language of the Record
Suid-Afrika, Gereformeerde Kerk Rekords
What is in the Collection?
These collections contain images of christenings, marriages, membership records, and some indexes for several parishes in South Africa and surrounding countries.
The Dutch Reform Church records have been maintained in good condition. Records are found in different registration formats, most written in Dutch and others in Afrikaans, and English. For translation help, see the For Help Reading These Records section of this article.
This collection contains images of baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths, and memberships of the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk In Afrika) housed at the Genealogical Institute of South Africa (Genealogiese Instituut van Suid-Afrika) Archive at Stellenbosch, South Africa. Communities from the entire country of South Africa are represented. Includes records from the current African nations of Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This collection is being published as images become available.
The Dutch Reform Church records have been maintained in good conditions. Records are found in different registration formats, most written in Dutch and others in Afrikaans, Dutch, and English.
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.
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.
Baptismal records usually contain the following information:
- Name of child
- Date and place of baptism
- Child's birth date
- Names of parents, including maiden name of mother
- Name of person performing baptism
Marriage records usually contain the following information:
- Date and place of marriage
- Race of both husband and wife
- Name and age of groom
- Groom's country of birth
- Groom's occupation and residence
- Name and age of bride
- Bride's country of birth
- Bride's occupation and residence
- Marriage by license or banns
- Consent or order for marriage given by whom
- Names of witnesses
- Name of officiant at ceremony
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search in this collection, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- Name of ancestor
- Approximate year of baptism and marriage
- Ancestor's religion
What Do I Do Next?
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.
- 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.
- Try searching for the nickname, such as George for Geo
For Help Reading These Records
These records are in English, Dutch and Afrikaans. For help with reading the records, see the following wiki article:
FamilySearch Historical Record Collections
- South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Records, Stellenbosch Archive (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- South Africa, Free State Dutch Reformed Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- South Africa, Dutch Reformed Church Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Related Wiki Articles
How You Can Contribute
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