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This spijkerman did not need hammer and nails for his job

Latin at the root of very old surname

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill Genealogy

The Dutch surname Timmerman (carpenter) most certainly represents a better tradition with a hammer than does a Spijkerman. While a timmerman requires spijkers (nails) to successfully carry on his trade, a Spijkerman should attribute the origin of his name to a very distant ancestor who very likely lived at a Spijker, where he may have taken in grain (spica) and other crops as payments for rent and other debts on behalf of his estate owner or tax franchise holder. Spijkerman, Spiekerman, Spijksma and Van ’t Spijker, along with many more obscure variations, all share the same Latin origin, spicarium (Spijker or granary). The surname Spijk(man) offers several options, it could be a shortened version of Spijkerman but just as likely refers to a ”landtong” in a meandering river or coastline.

A spijkerman may have served his employer, a lord such as an emperor, king, duke, count, baron or knight, who owned an estate or held some privilege that entitled them to a share in the harvest of farms. Spijkers continued to play their part in Dutch society well into the 19th century but payments in-kind became rare after French emperor Napoleon imposed the use of currency in transactions.

There is commonality to buildings that served as a Spijker: at the minimum with reinforced walls, they were usually more secure than other buildings, especially in politically unstable areas. Some buildings closely resembled a castle, pointing to a facility built to serve a more influential lord or larger area, while a comparatively modest building, in some cases just an upscale farm, suggests that its owner represented a lower societal ranking.


The list of places including the noun Spijker is not that long but the word shows up in numerous farm, estate and business names. Spijkerbrug is a Nijmegen farmstead near a bridge and refers to the local Spijker, now a monument. Next to it is the farmstead Spijkerhof. Well-known is Hotel 't Spijker at Beek-Ubbergen. The Spijkerkwartier or district in Arnhem gained notoriety as the city’s red light district. Designed in the 1850s, the district was built for the upperclass citizenry. In recent years, Arnhem cleaned up the district. Other locations are: Spijkenisse, ZH; Bruine Spijker, GL; Spijkerboor, DR; and Spijkerboor, NH.

The above is a much digested version of the original article. Copies of the original, fully illustrated article, which is the fourth in a series, can be ordered by contacting the Windmill Herald / the Windmill Post office, see also contact information.

The earlier illustrated articles were on the surname ranges of (van’t) Riet, Dekker, Veer(man) and (Van)Tol(man), covering over 250 surname variations and spellings.