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Maiden names

In most English-speaking countries, a woman generally takes her husband's surname after marriage. In The Netherlands (and several other European countries), a married woman may use her husband's surname, and be known to everyone in her environment under her husband's name, but she will never get this name. On all official documents, her own surname is used.

This is also true for old church books. In 18th century baptism books, the mother will (nearly always) be recorded with her own surname. If there were female witnesses, they will be listed under their own surnames.

This means, of course, that knowing the maiden names of your female Dutch ancestors is even more important than knowing the maiden names of your female American ancestors. In practice, this is rarely a problem, as every document you find will list it. If you know anything at all about a female ancestor, you will at least know her maiden name.


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Blogger C5 said...

It's interesting! Here in the Philippines, we always get the husband's surname and the child always get the mother's maiden name as the child's middle name.


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