Dutch Naming Myths

Tamara Jones’ article on “Dutch Naming Myths” is a good, short, to-the-point read.

Those whose ancestry is pretty much English speaking with a dash of Dutch thrown in for good measure (typically because the person has 17th or 18th century ancestry in what is now the United States) would do well to read it because Dutch naming practices are different from English language ones.

As one who is half-Ostfriesen, with family living in that area until the mid-to-late 19th century, I noticed many aspects of Jones’ conversation that are applicable to that area as well. One practice some Ostfriesens had, particularly in the mid-to-late 19th century was to have a first name, a second name that was a patronym, and a last name that was a surname.

But as a reminder to those who had families from other of Europe–practices elsewhere may be different. Ostfriesland today is in Germany. My German ancestors from other areas of Germany did not practice these naming patterns. And Ostfriesland did not practice some of the naming tendencies that other areas of Germany did.

It is always worth remembering that what today is one country may be made up of many different ethnic or cultural regions and those different regions may have different practices.


2 thoughts on “Dutch Naming Myths

  1. Nancy R. Purchase says:

    I understand that with old German names, the first name was a baptismal or “courtesy” name – usually after religious figures (John, Maria, etc.) – but which were rarely used again, except on formal occasions. So I usually assume the individual went by one of his/her other names and they usually had several.

    • That was done in parts of Germany. In my experience with researching Ostfriesen families, that was not a common practice in that location.

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