Dutch Birth Record Terminology You Should Know

Doing online research is fine, but reading the actual records is far more interesting. Not only do they often provide more details that could help your research, but also the sight of the real old handwriting can be very exciting and inspiring. Maybe you are put off  to request the real documents because of the language. Therefore, I will give you the basic text and terminology for a typical baptism record and birth certificate. Although slight variations occur of course, this list will make reading a Dutch birth record doable.

Baptisms before 1795
Most christening records are in Dutch, although in very old records some Latin may be used. At the top of the page, you will find the month and the year. Then in the left column you will find the date of baptism and sometimes the name of the child. In the left column you will find the names of the child, the parents and the witness (es). Sometimes the name of the vicar is also stated. Useful Dutch words you may find in these records are:

  • kind: child
  • vader: father
  • moeder: mother
  • peet: godparent
  • peter: godfather
  • meter: godmother

Some useful Latin:

  • dito: as said above (usually to indicate the same date)
  • nata/natus: born
  • baptisata/baptisatus: baptized
  • filia/filius: child of
  • legitima, legitimus: legitimate
  • et: and
  • susceptor: godfather
  • susceptrix: godmother
  • fuit, fuere, fuerunt: to be, was, were
  • coniugum: of the spouses

1765, Maij
Kind: Johanna. Vader Huibregt Cornelissen. Moeder Hendrika van der Wal. Peet Antje van der Wal.
(Child: Johanna. Father Huibregt Cornelissen. Mother Hendrika van der Wal. Godparent Antje van der Wal).

28 nata et 29 baptisata est Maria Cornelia filia legitima Johan van Hout et Catharina Smit coniugum. Susceptores fuerunt Anna Hendrika et Gerard van Hout.
(July. Born on the 28th and baptized on the 29th is Maria Cornelia, legitimate child of the spouses Johan van Hout and Catharina Smit. Godparents were Anna Hendrika and Gerard van Hout).

Between 1795 and 1811
In this period, the Netherlands were occupied by the French and therefore all baptisms and birth records were written in French. Useful French words are:

  • neé/né: born
  • fils de: son of
  • fille de: daughter of
  • basptisé/baptiseé: baptized
  • eglise: church
  • par: by
  • msr (monsigneur): reverent
  • témoin: witness
  • père: father
  • mère: mother

Pierre Paul, né le 27 avril. Fils de Louis Henri Carpentier et Helena Mulder. Baptisé par la eglise par monsigneur Louis le 28 avril. Témoin: le père et la mère.
(Pierre Paul born on the 27th of April. Son of Louis Henri Carpentier and Helena Mulder. Baptized by the church by reverent Louis on the 28th of April. Witnesses: the father and mother).

Birth records after 1811
Birth certificates are much longer and contain more information. Likely most of the text is preprinted and therefore well readable. Although the exact text varies from one place to another and through time, the most common words and sentences you will find are:

  • dag: day
  • maand: month
  • jaar: year
  • ure: hour
  • maandag: Monday
  • dinsdag: Tuesday
  • woensdag: Wednesday
  • donderdag: Thursday
  • vrijdag: Friday
  • zaterdag: Saturday
  • zondag: Sunday
  • van beroep: occupation
  • wonende: living
  • alhier: here
  • getuigen: witnesses
  • deze gemeente: this municipality
  • geslacht: gender
  • mannelijk: male
  • vrouwelijk: female
  • ambtenaar van den burgelijken stand: register office clerk
  • lid van de Kommissie tot den Burgerlijken Stand : member of the register office commision (register office clerk)
  • is voor ons verschenen: appeared before us
  • waarvan wij akte hebben opgemaakt: of which we have drawn up this act
  • in tegenwoordigheid van: in the presence of
  • welke acte wij, na in de daartoe bestemde registers ingeschreven en voorgelezen te zijn, hebben geteekend: which act we have signed, after adding it to the applicable registries
  • zijnde deze Acte, na mijne voorlezing, geteekend door: being this act signed by...after being read out load by me.
  • bevestigd ingevolge de wet, door mij ondergeteekende: confirmed according to law by me, the undersigned.

Of course this list does not pretend to be complete, but it does give you the basics to make some sense out of dutch birth records. Have fun with it!