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Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:37 pm
by vss1
Greetings. I have just joined this website. Please forgive any misuse of its purpose. I am seeing that the emphasis here is modern for the most part. I hope one of you has knowledge of the subject I have listed. I will give a brief explanation of my interest.
My 'Americanized' last name is Van Ness. The original ancestor arriving in America (1647) spelled his last name van Nest. In doing research on family history I have seen the last name spelled both van Nest and van Neste. Mostly it is Van Nest. With the Dutch meaning of van being 'from', I thought there might be a place in the Netherlands called Nest. I have done a limited search of placenames in modern Holland and found only listings for the town name of Nes, found on Ameland and a couple of towns in North Holland. No town/village is named Nest or Neste. Perhaps this is a farm or estate name??
My question is this: in the early formative period of the establishment of Dutch name spelling and the writing of these names, was it common for the same family name to be spelled with these different endings? I know of the famous Admirals van Nes of the 17th century. There are also documented arrivals in America in the 17th century with the name van Ness. Are Nes, Ness, Nest, and Neste really variations of the same name word?
Thanks for taking time to consider this. I sincerely hope that some information or guidance on this topic is available.
Scott Van Ness

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:56 am
by BrutallyFrank
I think it's pretty difficult to answer this: the word 'nes' refers to headland ('landtong' in dutch) or some swampy land. I guess there were quite a lot of those in Holland and even in England ... although the 'van' part seems to point more in the direction of Dutch/Belgian origin.

About the many forms of a name: I know that it is possible that in a population registry people of the same family can be registered by different names. For instance if one member married in a different village and had to re-register, mistakes were made. The name 'Van Ness' could easily been registered as 'Van Nes' or even 'Van Es' ...

I checked the site of the Meertens Instituut and maybe that could give you a vague idea about the origins of the name: Click. If you use the 'bevat' (=contains) operator, you should get more hits with names that are closely connected. But as you can see straight away it connected to some variations as 'Van Nest(e)' already.

I also checked my copy of 'Dialectatlas van het Nederlands', which has a section about names. Traditionally they divide family names by 5 criteria:
- Afstammingsnaam (ancestry): Janssen (son of Jan(s))
- Beroepsnaam (profession): Bakker (baker) or Smid (smith)
- Eigenschapsnaam (characterization): DeJong (a young person) or DeWit (a white/pale person)
- Woonplaatsnaam (domicile): Verhoeven or Van Acker
- Herkomstnaam (origin): Van Keulen (from Cologne) or Van Schaik (from Schaik)

From what I noticed from the Meertens map, in comparison to a map from my book, is that the name 'Van Nes' is more common in the provinces of Holland (North and South) and Utrecht (especially if you click on the 1947 link). Maybe it's because most of the reclaimed land is in that area (swampy land?). The map in the atlas shows that in that area it was very common to name people based on their domicile, which could concur with the Meertens map.

All in all I think it's difficult to pinpoint an exact location for origins of the name 'Van Ness'.

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:11 am
by ngonyama
No, Nest(e) is not necessarily the same word as Nes. The latter is a a piece of land formed by sedimentation outside the dikes. Nest is what it means in English: nest. And yes nest also occurs in toponyms see e.g. ... &id=ID3039

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:13 pm
by evanderveer
I am also wondering about the correct Dutch spelling of my last name Vander Veer.
A few years before my father died he changed the spelling of his name to Van der Veer.
I have also seen it spelled van Der Veer.
I have been told the meaning is "from the dike" or "keeper of the dike".
Any information you can provide on spelling and meaing is appreciated.

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:42 am
by Teodor
Depends. In the Netherlands, such a name would be spelled in three words: van der Veer. The V in "Veer" should always be a written in upper case, the d always in lower case, but the v in "van" may be written both in lower case (when its preceded by another part of the name: "John van der Veer", "John R. van der Veer") as well as in upper case (in all other contexts: "Minster Van der Veer", "my colleague Van der Veer",...).

In Belgium, due to the fact that surnames were in vogue earlier (in times when people were less concerned about correct spelling) as well as because for a large part of its history central administration was handled in French, such a surname may officially be written in all kinds of ways: Van der Veer, Vander Veer, Vanderveer, van Derveer, Van Derveer; only rarely will one see "van der Veer". Most people tend to write their surname whatever way the state's bureaucracy has decided it should be, though some 'defy' this (e.g. yours truly, or the writer Geert van Istendael, whose daughter, comic book artist Judith Vanistendael writes her surname the official way).

My guess is that immigration officials in the US probably were as negligent and ignorant about these things as their Belgian colleagues, and that your father attempted to correct them.

'Veer' means "river crossing", so "van der Veer" would literally mean "from the river crossing". This probably means that one of your ancestors lived near a river crossing and/or was a ferryman.

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 12:47 pm
by BrutallyFrank
(van den) Veere, Van de Vere, (van de) Veire, Van der Veer(en), Van der Ver(r)en, Van de Verre, Van 't Veer, Van der Vieren, Verveer, Terveer, Ter Veer

Familienaam afgeleid van de plaatsnaam 'veer' = oversteekplaats. De familienaam kan een plaatsnaam of een beroepsnaam zijn (veerman).

De plaatsnaam Veer(e) komt in Vlaanderen, maar zeker in Nederland zeer veel voor. De familienaam minder.
It's basically the same message as above. I couldn't find anything about the name in the "Dialectatlas van het Nederlands".
I did find one reference to somebody who sold feathers (plur. veren, sing. veer). Could be for writing or for pillows. But it's less likely than the connection to a ferry.
I'm not saying 'ferryman', because it would be more logical for them to be named 'Veerman', which is also a common name. There are also references to specific ferries, for example 'Pasveer'.

You can also check:
- ... r=eq&taal=
- ... n+der+veer

Re: Spelling of Dutch names; 17th century

Posted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:01 pm
by evanderveer
Thank you very much for this information. I find it very interesting and hope to travel to the Netherlands some day. :-D

Ed Vander Veer