The Basics: A Guide
Dutch name adoption decisions confusing to genealogists
In the name adoption records you will find the surname that the head of the family wants as his family name. The record usually lists all his children with their ages and where they live. Sometimes it is the widow who registers the family name. I have seen several records where the grandchildren are listed as well. It is interesting to note that even though this was supposed to be permanent some people ignored the name that they had adopted and changed it within a short period of time.
In 1812 my wife's forebear Reinder Jochems adopted the surname Neef for all his children - Jochem, Jan, Berend and Wobbigje. Wobbigje, Berend and Jochem's children (Jochem had died in 1806) took on the name Neef. Jan had taken on the name Hoornstra (he lived in a different county). However, by the time 1815 arrived Jochem's children had changed their last name to Vos or de Vos. How confusing!
There are many examples of brothers and sisters having five or more different last names in the same family. It was only through census records that I was able to confirm that Jan Reinders Hoornstra, Berend Reinders Neef and Klaasje Jochems de Vos were all related. It is difficult to establish the surnames of women in Friesland at this time. Sometimes a married woman was still listed with her parents, but this did not happen very often. For example, Reinder Jochems Neef's wife was called Trijntje Jans.
There is no name adoption record with her on it (her parents were long dead by 1811) and when she died in 1812 there was no mention of her parents or of her surname. Her age at death was given as 79 but most people figure this should be 71. All we know about her is that she was supposedly born in Olde-Berkoop, a village in the municipality of Ooststellingwerf. The naming of her children gives no clue as to her parents and unfortunately the early Olde-Berkoop records are not very good.