The Basics: A Guide
French revolutionary touch to Dutch calendar year
From 1793 to about 1815 you will find that some Lowlands records exist in the French language. In some areas of the Netherlands and of Germany, the French Republican calendar is used. Each month was 30 days long. The other five days were used for state holidays and feasts. The year started on September 22. The 12 months were called Vendémiaire (Sep 22 to Oct 21), Brumaire, Frimaire, Nivôse, Pluviôse, Ventôse, Germinal (21/22 March to 18/19 April), Floréal, Prairial, Messidor, Thermidor and Fructidor. The years also had special names; 1793 was year II, 1794 was year III, 1805 was year XIV. Just before civil registration started in much of Holland in 1811 (but in certain areas sooner) you are likely to encounter such designations as Louwmaand and Sprokkelmaand. Louwmaand is January, Sprokkelmaand February, Lentemaand March, Grasmaand April, Bloeimaand May, Zomermaand June, Hooimaand July, Oogstmaand August, Herfstmaand September, Wynmaand October, Slachtmaand November and Wintermaand December. In some cases the Dutch clerks added a Dutch translation to the French record.
Napoleon also had a major effect on genealogy in the Netherlands. In 1806 Napoleon had a law passed that people in the Netherlands had to adopt a last name (family name). In this way he could keep better track of his citizens.
Name adoption (naamsaanneming) records start in Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg in 1808. Elsewhere name adoption records commence in 1811 or 1812. Some others were as late as 1825. Many of these name adoption records have been microfilmed by the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church. Indexes to the name adoption records of Friesland are also available. If a family already had a last name they had to confirm that this was the name they were going to use. Next time I will talk a little more about these name adoption records.