A favourite name

No particular name springs to mind at first as I consider this week's prompt. Being of Dutch stock my family tree has lots of good old fashioned Dutch names. With little variation. If I take "favourite" to be what the ancestors liked or used the most, I think Jan (John) would be the top. It pops up everywhere either as a first name or middle name. Variations are Jans or Jansen, which really say that the person is a son of Jan, and so I have a Jan Jansen Bloemberg.

The same name repeated down the generations because of the naming conventions at the time which meant I think that the first born son was named after the grandfathers and the first born daughter after the grandmothers can be helpful but when you get a line of Jan Blomberg's it can be confusing too.

For my father who was named Jan Doede, after both his grandfathers, the popularity of Jan meant that for the first half of his life he was known by his nickname "Dick". As my grandmother told us, when she took him in to class on his first day of school, she introduced him to the teacher as Jan. Oh dear, said the teacher, I already have three Jans in my class, is there another name I could use? Well, said my grandmother, at home we call him Dick. However in his later years, as a business man working in an international environment, he preferred the name Jan again.

Then there is the sad situation that the same name gets used several times because each time the child dies soon after birth. That can be really confusing too. So in one family line, there are five children baptised with the name Pieter, each died just days or weeks after birth, or at most lived for a year. There is one break in the sequence maybe for good luck and a child is named Jacob, but he too dies, albeit at around two and a half years of age. Then there are two more children born and named Pieter. The last one it seems could not survive much beyond the death of his own mother, who died a month after giving birth to him, at 36 years of age. She had given birth to ten children, of which only the eldest two survived into adulthood. Her widower, Beerndt Peelen, remarried the following year with Marretje Bellaar and had four more children with her, though the last child, Marretje only survived a few months. However, their son Johannes, but known as, there it is again, Jan, was my direct ancestor. His younger brother was named Pieter and this time the name-bearer survived to adulthood and had a family of six children.

Now Johannes or Jan had a son Pieter again, and this Pieter had a son, yes, of course, Jan again and he had a son Jan Hendrik, being named after his grandfathers. This great-great grandfather changes the name game slightly. His son, my grandfather is named Jan Reinier Charles. Again named after the grandfathers, but who was the Charles he was named after? He was always known by his second name, Reinier or Rein. This name has carried through down to the younger generations.

Some names are noteworthy because of their spelling or just the image they conjure up.  There is the surname Schonewille - which translates to clean or pure (schone) and will, purpose (wille).

For the women's names I have a special affection for Geertrui Maria Gillhuys, who is my 3x great grandmother. Geertrui is to me a good honest unpretentious name, if you can say that about names. Probably more than that it is the letter of her to her son Jan, who was about to leave for Cairo, that strengthens that image. She did not expect to see him again, perhaps because she felt unwell, and so it is a letter of farewell and touchingly, at the end she asks that he keep the letter. 

Letters from Jan Hendrik Peelen and from his mother Geertrui Maria Gillhuys,
It is the black edged letter and just in the top left margin some-one has written in pencil Aan Jan Peelen (Knoops).

The other names that are visible in the other letter are Herman (his older brother) and Carolina, which do not come up as much in the name stakes as Jan does.

There are other names that come to mind but I'll leave those to another time.


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