Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Gold in Dutch Civil Marriage Records -- The Zorgdrager File

Marriage records are among the most sought-after genealogical records because they often state the age of the bride and groom, as well as the names of their parents. American records, which vary widely across states and time, often give little more than the bride's and groom's age, but European records are often genealogical gold mines.

Dutch civil registrations of marriages commonly give information about age, birthplace, current residence, occupation, and parents' names, age, and occupation. The May 1862 marriage registration of Sipke Zorgdrager and Tryntje Jans de Vries provides the following information.

Sipke Zorgdrager-Tryntje de Vries marriage, excerpted from Terschelling civil registrations*
  • Sipke was a 22 years-old and born at Terschelling.
  • He was a zeeman (sailor).
  • His father, Pieter Andries Zorgdrager, was a farmer living at Terschelling.
  • His mother was Martje Pieters Cupido.
  • His bride, Tryntje, was the 22 year-old daughter of Jan Pieters de Vries and Trijntje Douwes Cupido.
  • Witnesses for the groom were Pieter Pieters Zorgdrager, a 29 year-old zeeman, and Tijs Dirks Pals, a 21 year-old zeeman.
  • Witnesses for the bride were Pieter Jans de Vries, a 33 year-old farmer -- and identified as the brother of the bride -- and Cornelis Johannes Schaap, a 38-year old farmer.
 As you may recall, my grandmother, Kate Zorgdrager, was a daughter of Sipke Zorgdrager and Tryntje de Vries. The information marriage record alone, is a good start for sketching out Kate Zorgdrager's family tree -- We have names, ages and occupations of both sets of grandparents, plus the name of an uncle on her mother's side. Pieter Pieters Zorgdrager was probably Tryntje's brother. The other two witnesses likely were near neighbors, possibly even related.

The document carries the signatures of  all involved:

S Zorgdrager [Sipke Zorgdrager]
T J de Vries [Trijntje Jans de Vries]
P A Zorgdrager [Pieter Andries Zorgdrager -- father of groom]
T D Cupido [Trijntje Douwes Cupido -- mother of bride]
 P P Zorgdrager [Pieter Pieters Zorgdrager -- brother of groom]
Tijs D Pals [second witness for groom]
P J de Vries [Pieter Jans de Vries -- brother of bride]
J C Schaap [second witness for bride]

C Ruyg was the official who signed for the municipality.

The bride's father, Jan Pieters de Vries, is absent because he had died in 1856.

The amount of information in the civil registrations makes it easy to follow a family back in time to 1811; before 1811, church records document births, marriages and burials.

In this case, I quickly discovered two things of interest. First, when he married in 1831, Sipke's father, Pieter Andries Zorgdrager, was a schipper (skipper). While it might have been a small boat, I like the idea of having a schipper ancestor. The same record stated that Pieter Andries' father, Andries Pieters, was a winkeler (shopkeeper). That's also a first in my family! However, when he died in 1856 Andries Pieters -- yes, the names get confusing -- was a plain old farmer.

Second, Sipke Zorgdrager and Tryntje de Vries were 2nd cousins -- not a particularly unusual thing, especially on an island in the North Sea. Sipke's mother, Martje Pieters Cupido, and Tryntje's mother, Trijntje Douwes Cupido were both granddaughters of Pieter Willems Cupido and Tryntje Jongkin. Next week -- perhaps -- I will show the evidence from church records.

* Digital image from Alle Friezen,

1 comment:

  1. Did you check the supplements for this record as well? It has the documents that the bride had to submit. It includes their marriage proclamations, extracts of their birth records, an extract of the death record of the father of the bride and the proof that the groom had fulfilled his military duties: