The Basics: A Guide
Dutch Calendar Dates with a Difference
When you go back before 1812, you have to know what the religion was of your ancestor. The major churches were the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (after 1815 known as the Nederlands Hervormde Kerk, NHK), the Remonstrantse Broederschap, the Doopsgezinde Kerk (Mennonite) and the Rooms Katholieke Kerk (RK). In the large centres one could also find various other churches, English and Scottish, Jewish, Walloon (French) and Lutheran. I will deal first with the Doopsgezinde records.
The Doopsgezind or Mennonite records are very sparse. For many areas they no longer exist. Since the children often did not get christened/baptized until they were adults, birth dates are difficult to establish. For example one of my wife's forebears, Harmen Drenth, was christened in the Zuiderdoopsgezinde Gemeente of Giethoorn (Overijssel) on 25 January 1750. He married about 1745, thus putting his year of birth around 1720. Marriage dates in many Mennonite communities are difficult to find although one must always look in the NHK records to see if the marriage is registered there. The NHK was the state church and for many years all other religions had to register their marriages in that church. Sometimes the christening of a child was also registered in the NHK.
Before going on, I want to talk a little about dates. The best way to record a date is as I have done above - 25 January 1750. A date such as 12-11-1749 is not very clear, to a European this means 12 November 1749, to most North Americans this date means December 11, 1749. The other problem with dates is that in the Netherlands two different calendars were in use up to about 1700 - the Julian and the Gregorian calendars. In 1583 Brabant, Holland and Zeeland adopted the Gregorian calendar and by 1700 Gelderland, Utrecht, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen had changed over. Sometimes in the records you will find a date such as this, 11/17 January 1700. This just indicates the changeover from Julian to Gregorian. In other records you will find a date with the following attached - oude stijl. This tells you that the date was given according to the Julian calendar.