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Making sense of old handwriting

Land, Leases, and Litigation

Land records can help you learn where an individual lived in a specific place and when he or she lived there. They can also help you establish patronymic family ties. Often the records will name entire family groups since, in many parts of the country, each child (or grandchild) had an inherited right to the land or house.

Transfers of land, or akten van verkoop or transporten van onroerend goed, from one party to another is the most common type of land record. Mortgages, hypotheken, are also found. Land transfers and mortgages may be recorded in separate books but are frequently found with other kinds of court records in the grouping known as voluntary jurisdiction.

Mortgages for Friesland are recorded separately and have been filmed in their entirety by the Family History Library. The records are indexed and found in the FamilySearch Catalog on the district, grietenij, level.

Feudal land records, or leenregisters, describe the use of land, houses, fishing waters, or other property granted to someone in return for a yearly payment, military duty, or sworn fealty. The entitlement was usually hereditary, and one can often trace several generations of ancestors. The records cover 1400 to 1796.

Land and cadastral records (Land registers)

Research use: Primarily for family relationships and to extend lineage beyond other existing records.

Record type: Declarations of land ownership, property, estates, and purchase agreements.

Time Period: 1200-present.

Content: Land holders’ and renters’ names, taxes, and rent paid, dates of deeds, residence, land descriptions, fathers’ names, and sometimes names of several generations of ancestors; date and mode of land acquisition (from a parent or grandparent, by dowry, or division).

Location: Provincial, state, city, municipal and regional archives.

Population coverage: 10%.

Reliability: Good.

Locating Land and Property Records

Land transfer and mortgage records are housed in the state, regional, and municipal archives. Feudal land records are found in government and church archives and also manor and castle archives. Feudal records of Gelderland and Overijssel are indexed, and those of South Holland are being published in the genealogical journal Ons Voorgeslacht (Our Ancestry).

Family History Library Records. Copies of many land records have been acquired by the Family History Library. To determine whether the library has land records for the locality your ancestor came from, look in the Place search of the catalog under each of the following:




Land records are also included in court and notarial records. For more information, see the "Court Records" and "Notarial Records" sections.

House books (Huizboeken)

Research use: Often a very useful linkage tool as ages and names of all family members are given for various time periods.

Record type: Lists of owners and residents of a given house.

Time Period: 1430-1900.

Content: Shows names, ages, family relationships, taxes paid, and dates of residence of individuals and families.

Location: Provincial, city, and municipal archives.

Population coverage: 10%.

Reliability: Good.


Paleography Introduction