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DUTCH SYSTEM OF NAMING CHILDREN

 

Cliff Lamere    23-24 Feb 2001

 

 

In New Netherland and later, Dutch parents used a fairly consistent system of naming their children. 

  

1)  The first two sons and first two daughters were usually named after the grandparents of the children.  

2)  The first son was most often named after the husband's father.  

3)  Often, the first son and daughter were both named after the parents of the husband

4)  But in other families, the first daughter took the name of the wife's mother.  

 

This was the basic system, but, of course, not all families used it strictly.  A disagreement with a parent might mean that no child was named after that person.  Or a beloved or deceased grandparent or sibling might be honored before a parent.  Sometimes, a child was named for a witness who was present at the baptism, or even for a famous person.

 

If a Dutch child died at an early age, and the child had been named in honor of a grandparent, it was common to name the next child of that sex for that same person.  Therefore, Dutch families many times baptized more than one child with the same name, but only the second (or third) child of that name was alive at the time the last child received the name.  I have found an exception in the Albany, NY area.  Two daughters in the same family were baptized Anche (the equivalent of Antje) and Ann.  The Dutch grandmothers were Antje and Annatje, both of which mean Ann in English.  Both girls grew to adulthood and married.

 

We all know that records proving parentage can be very difficult to find.  In the absence of such proof, for Dutch men and women you should try to determine the names of all of their children.  If you can learn the names of the parents of one of the spouses, and those names appear in the names of the children, you can be pretty sure that the Dutch naming system was being applied.  Then, all you have to do is see what names remain of the first two sons and first two daughters.  At that point, you will have two given names left, and one or both are likely to be the names of the parents of the other spouse.

 

Allow me to give some examples from a Van Slyk family.  I have color-coded some of the given names to make it easier to see for whom the children were named (the namesakes and the children named after them both have the same color of font or highlight).  The same color of font or highlight has been used for both members of a marriage.

 

Descendants of Pieter Van Slyk, Jr.

 

Pieter VAN SLYK, Jr.  bp. 28 Apr 1700 at Albany Reformed Dutch Church, Albany Co., NY d: Aft. 1734  Father: Pieter Willemsz Van

      Slyk  Mother: Johanna Hansz/Jansz Barheit

. +Engeltie VAN VALKENBURGH  bp. 24 Nov 1695 at Albany Reformed Dutch Church, Albany Co., NY Father: Jochem Lambertse VAN

      VALKENBURG Mother: Eva Hendrickse VROOMAN

....... 2 Pieter/Petrus VAN SLYK  b: 4 Dec 1724 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

.......... +Jesyntje "Seyntie" GARDENIER  bp. 21 Nov 1731 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY m: 25 Nov 1760

                Claverack Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY  Father: Hendrick GARDENIER  Mother: Margarita VAN WOERT

....... 2 Jochum/Joachim VAN SLYK  bp. 1727 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

.......... +Cornelia VAN VALKENBURG  bp. 1738 m: 19 Dec 1753 Albany Reformed Dutch Church, Albany Co., NY Father: Johannes VAN  VALKENBURG Mother: Margriet BARHEIT

....... 2 Willem VAN SLYK bp. 8 Sep 1729 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

.......... +Dorothea VOSBURGH bp. 1744 m: 20 May 1759 Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

....... 2 Johannes VAN SLYCK bp. 16 Apr 1732 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY d: Aft. 4 May 1810 (alive that date)

              [Note:  Johannes Van Valckenburgh was a witness, thus that is the origin of the name Johannes in this branch of the Van Slyks.]

.......... +Helena "Lena" GARDENIER bp. 8 Sep 1741 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY m: 30 Jun 1763 Claverack

                Reformed Dutch Church, Columbia Co., NY d: Aft. 4 May 1810 (alive that date) Father: Samuel S. GARDENIER Mother: Barentje BARHEYT

....... 2 Eva VAN SLYK bp. 29 Sep 1734 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

.......... +Hermannus VAN BUEREN m: 10 Jun 1763 Claverack Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

....... 2 Johanna-1 VAN SLYK bp. 29 Sep 1734 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

....... 2 Johanna VAN SLYK bp. 15 Jan 1737 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

.......... +Frans VAN BUEREN bp. 1746 m: 30 Sep 1761 Claverack Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

 

SUMMARY:  Of the seven children of Pieter Van Slyk, Jr. and Engeltie Van Valkenburgh the first two sons were Pieter and Jochum; the first three daughter were named Eva and Johanna (2).  All of these children were named for their grandparents.  Johannes was named for Johannes Van Valckenburgh (witness at his baptism), who I suspect was a good friend of Pieter, Jr. because Jochum, a son of Pieter, Jr. later married a daughter of a Johannes Van Valkenburg.  Finally, son Willem was likely named for the Pieter, Jr.'s grandfather.  I base this on the fact that Pieter, Jr.'s father was named Pieter Willemsz Van Slyk.  The Willemsz would likely refer to the father of  Pieter Willemsz.

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Now, let's look at the naming of the children of two of Pieter, Jr.'s sons.  First, the family of Johannes Van Slyck.

 

....... 2 Johannes VAN SLYCK bp. 16 Apr 1732 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY d: Aft. 4 May 1810 (alive that date)

               Father:  Pieter VAN SLYK, Jr.  Mother:  Engeltie VAN VALKENBURGH
.......... +Helena "Lena" GARDENIER bp. 8 Sep 1741 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY m: 30 Jun 1763 Claverack

                Reformed Dutch Church, Columbia Co., NY d: Aft. 4 May 1810 (alive that date)  Father: Samuel S. GARDENIER  Mother:

                Barentje BARHEYT
................ 3 Pieter VAN SLYCK bp. 4 Nov 1764 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY d: c. 1800
................ 3 Samuel VAN SLYCK bp. 17 Aug 1766 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Engeltje VAN SLYCK bp. 5 Feb 1769 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Dirk VAN SLYCK bp. 2 Dec 1770 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Cathrina VAN SLYCK bp. 4 Jul 1773 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Willem VAN SLYCK bp. 10 Sep 1775 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Johannes VAN SLYCK bp. 30 Mar 1777 at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY

 

SUMMARY:  The first two sons, Pieter and Samuel were named after their grandfathers.  Daughter Engeltje was named after her paternal grandmother.  No child was named after the maternal grandmother Barentje.  Dirk was a name that had previously existed in the Van Slyk family, but it was also the name of Helena's younger brother.  Cathrina was the name of Helena's older sister.  Willem is a Van Slyk name discussed above.  At the baptism of Johannes, a witness was Johannes Van V. (probably Van Valkenburg).

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Pieter Van Slyk (son of Pieter, Jr. above) married Jesyna "Seyntie" Gardenier.  They had the following family:

 

....... 2 Pieter/Petrus VAN SLYK b: 4 Dec 1724 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY  Father:  Pieter VAN SLYK, Jr.  

              Mother:  Engeltie VAN VALKENBURGH
.......... +Jesyntje "Seyntie" GARDENIER bp. 21 Nov 1731 at. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY m: 25 Nov 1760

                Claverack Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY Father: Hendrick GARDENIER Mother: Margarita VAN WOERT
................ 3 Pieter Van Slyck b: Bef. 5 Feb 1764 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Margrietje VAN SLYCK b: Bef. 2 Mar 1766 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Engeltje VAN SLYCK b: Bef. 10 Jun 1768 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY
................ 3 Hendrick VAN SLYCK b: Bef. 15 Jul 1770 bp. Kinderhook Reformed Church, Columbia Co., NY


SUMMARY:  All four children were named for their grandparents.

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Before the 1850 census, the names of the children in a family were not listed.  Lacking baptismal records that list the parents, sometimes there is just no other information available to prove the names of the parents, except the given names of their children.  It is amazing how well it works in the Gardenier/Gardinier (Dutch) surname.  I have been able to successfully use the names of the Gardenier/Gardinier children all the way up to births in the 1890s.  

 

 

You may want to read Dutch Customs of Child Naming by Lorine McGinnis Schulze.  She gives additional naming information not included in my discussion above.  See the bottom of her webpage.

 

 

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