Evolution of the surname

Before the period of settlement in New Netherlands, in accordance with Dutch custom people were designated by their given name, followed by their father's name to which was added "se," "ze," or "sen." Wouterze, for example, would mean "son of Wouter." Rutger Jacobsen was Rutger, son of Jacob.

The practice of not using surnames caused considerable confusion in Dutch genealogies. There were possibly a hundred Rutger Jacobsens, several often in one community. The early Dutch emmigrants to New Netherlands eventually called themselves after the towns of cities from whence they came, or from their estate, business or calling. Brothers Rutger and Teunis Jacobsen assumed the surname Van Schoonderwoerdt. According to what I have read, their homeplace, Schoonderwoerdt, was a pretty Dutch village two miles north of Leerdam and four miles from Vianen in the province of South Holland.

After a bit of searching on a big map of the Netherlands, I found the town as Schoonrewoerd. Based on how that spelling would be pronounced in Dutch, I can see how the name came to be the version used in Rutger and Teunis's time.

Jochem Wouterszen | Rutger Jacobszen Van Schoonderwoert | Teunis Jacobszen Van Schoonderwoert

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Updated February 19, 2001