September 11, 2015

Patronymics - Are they Confusing or Helpful to Genealogists?

Patronymics - Are they Confusing or Helpful to Genealogists?
Lois asked a rather convoluted question which I answered in full on my AskOliveTree blog
Below is one small section of Lois' original email, and my response:

Q: After 200 years of historical accounts of the immigrants from the Netherlands, debate is still continuing when the surname Teunise/Teunisen is researched. My ancestor was Teunis Nyssen, who had  7 children based on baptism records, one (Cornelis) from guardianship record after his mother Phoebe Janse died. By 1660, when the 2nd generation started marriage and having children, the names of daughters were Teunis with an “e” added and sons with “en”. Historians and genealogists either made decisions which person had which “Teunis” father, so for the children of Teunis Nyssen, Denyse was added to the name “de Nys, or of Nys, as opposed to child of Teunis Bogaert. 

Is my assumption on the addition of the “e” and “en” correct?
A: The simple answer is "NO". The patronymic was formed by adding -se, -sen, or -szen. Daughters would very often have the ending -x or -dr. added. I suggest that what you are finding ("e" vs "en") is simply the way the name/patronymic was recorded by that specific clerk or individual. See Dutch Patronymics of the 1600s for more help. 

Researching the Dutch in New Netherland is not an easy task. It requires years of study to understand naming patterns, customs, patronymics etc *and* to find the records to assist in the research. There are records that Dr. Gehring has been working on translating from the Dutch for over 25 years now! 

Read more of Lois' Questions and my  Responses at

Photo credit: Stuart Miles on FreeDigital.Net

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