Naamsgeschiedenis / History of Naming

Iedereen in Nederland heeft één of meer voornamen en een geslachts- of familienaam. Het lijkt zo logisch en je zou haast aannemen dat het altijd zo is geweest. Maar niets is minder waar. Pas sinds de Fransen in 1811 elke ingezetene verplichtten om een achternaam te kiezen (als men die nog niet had), is die logica aanwezig. Daarvóór was het chaos troef. Er bestonden in de tijd vóór 1811 in grote lijnen vier methoden voor naamsaanneming:

  • De achternaam of familienaam zoals wij die nu kennen, veelal gebaseerd op oude adelijke geslachtsnamen
  • Patroniemen (constructies zoals Jan Hendriks: Jan, zoon van Hendrik, Jantje Egberts, Jantje dochter van Egbert)
  • Namen van gehuchten, dorpen, boerderijen, belangrijke voorzieningen en gebouwen, of landgoederen (voorbeeld: Gerrit Hagens, Bertus van Reeuwijk, Hendrik van der Sluis, Willem van Twickel)
  • Namen van beroepen, eigenschappen of kenmerken (Arend Mulder, Willem Timmermans, Klaas de Manke)

(alle namen zijn gefingeerd)

Veel families hadden wel een min of meer officiële achternaam. Soms lijkt het alsof dat alleen voor de hogere standen gold, maar die mythe is inmiddels achterhaald. De (Hollandse) naam Van der Sluis is bijvoorbeeld al sinds de oudst bekende naamdrager in onze familie dezelfde, doch zonder dat we in die familie écht rijken kunnen terugvinden. De (Achterhoekse) naam Mengerink (en varianten) is ook een redelijk oude naam, maar daarbij moet men wel letten op naamsovernemingen van schoonouders op schoonzoon. Maar in de (Groningse) familie Alkema (in doorsnee van dezelfde “stand” als de Mengerinks: boeren en werklui) is dat niet zo. Daar krijgt pas rond 1800 Wobbe Egberts de familienaam Alkema. Waarschijnlijk eerst officieus, en pas officieel bij de naamsaanneming, zoals die in 1811 verplicht was. Zijn patroniem (Wobbe Egberts, hetgeen betekent: Wobbe, zoon van Egbert) was daarvoor zijn enige naam. Zijn vader, Egbert Gerrits, is alleen met zijn patroniem bekend (Egbert, zoon van Gerrit). En zo al zijn voorvaderen.

Je ziet in de genealogische gegevens van de familie Alkema dat de naam Alkema geleidelijk aan in die familie opduikt tussen 1750 en 1800. Pas de kinderen van Egbert Gerrits en Aukje Annes krijgen de officiële familienaam Alkema, en aangezien die kinderen werden geboren vóór 1811, hebben zij die achternaam waarschijnlijk pas gekregen in 1811, toen de Fransen hun dat verplichtten. Waar de naam Alkema vandaan komt, is dus gissen. Het kan een boerderij of landgoed zijn (het meest waarschijnlijk) of de naam van een streek waar men toen woonde (een zogenaamde veldnaam, die men vaak bezigde voor een groepje boerderijen of voor een gehucht; dit kwam vooral voor in de oostelijke Nederlanden).

De naam Mengerink (en vele andere namen in de oostelijke Nederlanden) gingen soms van schoonouders op schoonzoon over. De schoonzoon nam dan na zijn huwelijk met de dochter van een boer na verloop van tijd diens boerderij over. De reden was vaak dat ouders alleen dochters hadden, of dat de oudste zoon nog te jong was en nog niet getrouwd, en daarmee geen goede “opvolgers”. Zo’n huwelijk hield dan boerderij én familienaam in stand. Die schoonzoon, laten we hem Jan Weddelink noemen, heette dan vlak na zijn huwelijk met de dochter van boer Mengerink: Jan Weddelink op Mengerink, en later gewoon Jan Mengerink. Of die naamswijziging werd al bij huwelijk doorgevoerd, zodat de genealoog soms helemaal het spoor bijster is, zeker als er door hiaten in de doopregisters geen doopregistratie van deze Jan meer bestaat.

In 1811 werd iedereen bij wet verplicht om een officiële geslachtsnaam aan te nemen. De meeste inwoners hadden al zo’n naam, zij het soms “per ongeluk”, maar toch moest men naar het gemeentehuis om zich met die naam te laten inschrijven. Die “akten van naamsaanneming” zijn nog in de archieven aanwezig. Sommige mensen namen deze actie van de Fransen niet zo serieus (een vorm van “burgerlijke ongehoorzaamheid” ?) en gaven willekeurige namen op, zoals “Naaktgeboren” , “Poepjes” en “Niemendal” … tot verdriet van menig nakomeling.

Veel voorkomend in Oost-Nederland (Gelderland en Overijssel) is dus, dat men als achternaam de naam gebruikte van de boerderij of het landgoed waarop men woonde. Het was in de periode vóór 1811 zo’n dun bevolkt gebied dat men elkaar aanduidde met de voornaam en zoiets als “van …”. Een voorbeeld: Gerrit van Scholten (Scholten was de boerderij en het “van”, “op” of “te” werd later vaak weggelaten). Die Gerrit kwam helemaal niet uit de familie Scholten, maar werkte bijvoorbeeld als knecht op boerderij Scholten en leefde ook, vaak zijn leven lang, op die boerderij.

Zo kon het voorkomen dat door allerlei oorzaken iemands achternaam door de jaren heen wisselde, en dat de achternamen van vaders en kinderen vaak verschillend waren … of werden.Everybody in The Netherlands has one or more first names and a family name. It seems so obvious ! Was it ever different ? Yes, this situation is so since the French Occupation (1795-1813), more specific: since 1811. Before that, namegiving was more a question of traditions, not of gouvernemental rules. We can be short about the period after 1811: the naming styles are then limited to the national legislation that says that every person has to have one and only one family name. Almost everybody obeyed this rule, so no details about that. But how was the situation before 1811 ?

There were, basically, four types of family names:

  • The family name system as we know it today, inheriting from father to children (most names are in fact based on traditional names that can be very old)
  • Patronyms, like Jan Hendriks(z) (meaning: Jan, son of Hendrik) or Jantje Egberts(z) (Jantje, daughter of Egbert)
  • Names of villages, hamlets, landmarks (examples: Gerrit van Amerongen, meaning: Gerrit, born in the village of Amerongen, and Hendrik van der Sluis, meaning: Hendrik, living at (near) the “sluice” or being a sluice-operator)
  • Names of professions, like Arend Mulder (Arend, the miller), or names of “personal properties” like in Klaas de Manke (Klaas, the lame)

Many families seem to have a name of type 1, until you dig deeper in history. Then it often comes out that such families change names “over night”. The name Mengerink is such an example. Jannes Mengerink’s father was called Aalbert Scholten op Mengerink (Aalbert Scholten, living on the farm or estate named Mengerink). Aalbert’s father was called Hendrik Hallers op Scholten (Hendrik Hallers, living on a farm or estate called Scholten). And Hendrik’s father was called Goossen Hallers, without extension, so he must have been living on a farm called Haller or something alike.

The moral of this is that Jannes’ ancestors gradually got to be called Mengerink, but that these name shifts stabelized around 1811, or shortly after that. What we see is that the members of the Aalbert Scholten op Mengerink family had to adopt an official family name in 1811, and that they chose to be named Mengerink most likely because everybody in their neighbourhood knew them only by the name of their farm or estate (Mengerink). The French ordered this name adoption in 1811 and forced people who did not have a “normal” family name, to adopt one. Further more it was not allowed to change that name. A name change could only be accomplished after a personal approval from the King himself (which is still the case, by the way). The Dutch didn’t take the French serious from starters when they occupied us, and never even started to listen to them if they could avoid it, so at first many people though “… well, OK, I have to, but this will pass over, them French will be out of here soon, and of what importance is this idiot naming thing anyway, so let’s think of some nice name to please them French …” and chose a name that many of their descendants nowadays still regret. Something like “Naaktgeboren” (Bornnaked), “Niemendal” (Nobody) or “Poepjes” (Shittie) was used as their new official family name. It wasn’t until the 1820’s that people really saw that this would not pass at all, and then we see a wave of name changes again, now to get the more decent name they wouldn’t be ashamed of.

Another reason for a name change lies in the mariages and traditional inheritance system. Suppose a son of a farmer called (e.g.) Scholten (let’s say this farmers’ son is called Hendrik Scholten) would marry a daugther of another farmer (let’s say she’s called Grietje Mengerink) and that farmer Mengerink doesn’t have a son to inherit his farm. Then his son-in-law Hendrik would inherit that farm through his marriage with Grietje. And then that son-in-law would soon be called Hendrik Mengerink (maybe at first: Hendrik Scholten op Mengerink), because everybody in that neighbourhood would soon have forgotton that he was really a Scholten.

This traditional naming problem is far more complex than what is discusssed here. Apart from marrying

Everybody in The Netherlands has one or more first names and a family name. It seems so obvious ! Was it ever different ? Yes, this situation is so since the French Occupation (1795-1813). Before that, namegiving was more a question of traditions, not of gouvernemental rules. More is said about the period after 1811, so no details about that. But how was the situation before 1811 ?

There were, basically, four types of family names:

  • The family name system as we know it today, inheriting from father to children (typically, this was used by those who had a family name originating in nobility and by some families that did have strong ties with farms, estates or alike)
  • Patronyms, like Jan Hendriks(z) (meaning: Jan, son of Hendrik) or Jantje Egberts(z) (Jantje, daughter of Egbert)
  • Names of villages, hamlets, landmarks (examples: Gerrit van Amerongen, meaning: Gerrit, born in the village of Amerongen, and Hendrik van der Sluis, meaning: Hendrik, living at (near) the “sluice” or being a sluice-operator)
  • Names of professions, like Arend Mulder (Arend, the miller), or names of “properties” like in Klaas de Manke (Klaas, the lame)

Many families seem to have a name of type 1, until you dig deeper in history. Then it often comes out that such family changes names “over night”. The name Mengerink is such an example. Jannes Mengerink’s father was called Aalbert Scholten op Mengerink (Aalbert Scholten, living on the farm or estate named Mengerink). Aalbert’s father was called Hendrik Hallers op Scholten (Hendrik Hallers, living on a farm or estate called Scholten). And Hendrik’s father was called Goossen Hallers, without extension, so he must have been living on a farm called Haller or something alike.

The moral of this is that Jannes’ ancestors gradually got to be called Mengerink, but that it stabelized around 1811. What we see is that the members of the Aalbert Scholten op Mengerink family had to adopt a family name in 1811, and that they chose to be named Mengerink most likely because everybody in their neighbourhood knew them only by the name of their farm or estate (Mengerink). The French ordered this name adoption in 1811 and forced people who did not have a “normal” family name, to adopt one. Further more it was not allowed to change that name only after a personal approval from the King himself (which is still the case, by the way). The Dutch didn’t take the French serious from starters when they occupied us, and never even started to listen to them if they could avoid it, so at first many people though “… well, OK, I have to, but this will pass over, them French will be out of here soon, and of what importance is this idiot naming thing anyway, so let’s think of some nice name to please them French …” and chose a name that many of their descendants nowadays still regret. Something like “Naaktgeboren” (Bornnaked), “Niemendal” (Nobody) or “Poepjes” (Shittie) was used as their new official family name. It wasn’t until the 1820’s that people really saw that this would not pass at all, and then we see a wave of name changes again, now to get the more decent name they wouldn’t be ashamed of.

Another reason for a name change lies in the mariages and traditional inheritance system. Suppose a son of a farmer called (e.g.) Scholten (let’s say this farmers’ son is called Hendrik Scholten) would marry a daugther of another farmer (let’s say she’s called Grietje Mengerink) and that farmer Mengerink doesn’t have a son to inherit his farm. Then his son-in-law Hendrik would inherit that farm through his marriage with Grietje. And then that son-in-law would soon be called Hendrik Mengerink (maybe at first: Hendrik Scholten op Mengerink), because everybody in that neighbourhood would soon have forgotton that he was really a Scholten.

This traditional renaming problem is far more complex then what is discusssed here. There are more reasons for name changes then marrying another farmers’ daughter. But I suggest that anybody who wants to know more about this issue, contacts the CBG in The Hague. They have publications in English that contain far more information then what could be discussed here.

One other thing might be worth mentioning. As more and more liberal legislation came about in The Netherlands in the late 20th and early 21st century, family naming has become more complex. Now, a father as well as a mother can give his or her family name to his or her children. As it is allowed for people of equal sex to marry, this legislation services the need for chosing the family name of children out of the two family names of the parents. So children can get the family name of the father or the mother, whatever is decided when the birth of the child is registered.

 

 

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