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Origin Dutch surname Nordeman traced to Vorden area farmstead Norde

Knowledge of history, topography and naming conventions a help

Tags: Genealogy

It is always a pleasure to read the pages of the Windmill Herald.... Having been bitten by the genealogy bug, I am particularly interested in anything you publish about family research. Your article, “Willem, Gerrit and Karel serve as examples’ Numerous popular Dutch names traced to Germanic tribal origins” in the series “The Story of Dutch Surnames” (October 7, 2002 issue) in which you show how numerous popular Dutch names can be traced back to Germanic tribal origins, reminds me of the challenges I encountered in researching my own surname, Nordeman.

It is a fact that the name Nordeman is not very common. As far as we can determine my brother and his family are the only ones left in Holland with this last name. My wife and I have been blessed with six sons and two daughters who are all married with children of their own. But again we have not been able to find any namesakes in Canada. Some searching on the Internet showed a small number of people with this last name in the United States and European countries, as well as some hits on ‘Nordemann’ with a double n. However, we have not been able to establish any family relations.

My brother and I were the last of four generations that lived in the town of Scheveningen. Information about our immediate ancestry was not too difficult to obtain. Fortunately, my father could still remember that his grandfather had actually moved from the little village of Vorden (Province of Gelderland, the Achterhoek region). The Reformed Church (NHK) in Vorden allowed us to research their membership registers. We learned how-ever, that most, if not all of this data, is also available in the provincial archives (Rijksarchief) in Arnhem. Because of the uncommon nature of the name many registers had to be researched, but whenever we did find our family name we could be sure that it was indeed family.

The greatest challenge we faced was to find the link between the person who first used the Nordeman name and the original birth name of that person. In Gelderland, and in particular in the areas of the Achterhoek, the Graafschap and Twente (in adjoining Overijssel), it was common to use as last name the name of the farm or estate where one worked or lived. This resulted in a person being identified by a given name (typically named after the grandfather’s or another close relative’s first name), a patronymic such as Wanders (son of Wander) and the name of the farm. The result of this custom is obvious. When a son left the family farm to either work somewhere else, or to buy his own, his last name would change. If a father would change employment, his and his whole family’s surname would change. On larger farms two or more men could be employed, thereby having the same last name without being related by blood.

Another interesting fact is the practise in most parts of The Netherlands not to split up farms when the parents pass away or when sold. Typically one of the sons would continue the family farm, while others would marry into another farm or take other employment. In the above-mentioned areas it was not uncommon to split up farms to allow more than one of the children to continue farming. This resulted in the renaming of the farm. As an example, the farm Regelink was divided into a Groot Regelink, also just called ‘Regelink’, and a ‘Klein Regelink’ with the associated change in last names of those who lived and worked there.

All these problems we encountered in our research of the names used by Berend Wanders Regelink, the first ancester to use the name Nordeman. His last name was Regelink because he was the son of Wander Tonissen Regelink, who worked as a hired man on the farm Regelink. When Berend started to work on the farm Leushoff, he became Berend Leushoff. He later went to work on another farm Norde and he became Berend op ‘t Norde, a name he later changed into Berend Nordeman.

How this evolved is clearly illustrated in the baptism records of his children:
* 1752 - Jan Willem, son of Berend Leushoff
* 1754 - Anneken, daughter of Berent Wanders op Norde & Janna Costede
* 1759 - Garrit Jan, son of Berend Waenders Regelink van op Norde & Janna Costede
* 1762 - Theuntjen, daughter of Berent Regelink op ‘t Norde & Janna Kostede
* 1765 - Berendt, son of Berend Regelink living op ‘t Norde & Janna Kostede
* 1769 - Johanna, daughter of Berend Nordeman & Janna Coster

So it was in 1769 that Berend used our present surname for the first time in an official registry. Gaining some knowledge of the customs and practices of the area where you are concentrating your research is very helpful. A little booklet “Boerderij- en veldnamen in Vorden” published by the Staring Instituut 1996 (ISBN- 90-73667-24-0) contained clear maps of farms and estates in the area. Also a publication by H. Wagenvoort titled “Erfgenaamden” over namen en overname van erven, offers insightful information (note the nice play on words).

Hopefully you have found the above of interest and I would appreciate any comments or suggestions regarding genealogical research.

Gerard J. Nordeman, Burlington, ON

It is indeed very helpful to link genealogical research projects with study of local history, topography and naming conventions. You noted the particular Eastern Dutch customs you encountered. As you are aware, they do not necessarily apply in other areas of the Netherlands. While farm names are the source of numerous Dutch surnames, field names - your very astude observation - should not be overlooked. In recent years many publications have appeared with such local topographical data. Local histories, look for publications by ‘heemkundige verenigingen,’ also can be very helpful when doing this type of research.

In addition to Nordeman, the Vorden area also knows the surname Norde. No connection between the two have been established to date.

The history of a family adds fascination to the bare facts of genealogy, its like dry bones coming alive. Thanks for sharing the results of your research. Editor.