Family Tree – Neuenhaus


This is the oldest (back to 1500) family tree concerning the name Van Dorsten. It originated in Neuenhaus (Germany) just across the Dutch border in the province of Overijssel. Descendants still live here. From there in the 18th century a large branch was derived to the Netherlands and from there later also to South Africa and the US. This used to be a prosperous and important family for the city of Neuenhaus that provided several mayors. That is why this family tree has already been examined several times by genealogists in the 20th century and various documents (including Die Chronik der Familie Van Dorsten) have been published about it.

Ancestor Analysis

The ancestor is Borchard van Dorsten which should be born around 1490. Where those exactly came from is not clear. According to the record attended the first Borchard already in Neuenhaus and there are even oral traditions that already around 1440 the first Van Dorsten came in Neuenhaus. This first Borchard had a lot of money. From where he got this is not certain, but the presumption expressed in the Chronicle is that this family might be at the Crusades to the Baltic Sea and earned there a lot of money. This is partly based on the family coat of arms. Borchard had at least two sons: Borchard, born around 1520, and Herman, referenced in the period 1533-1536 (so probably a bit older than Borchard). The son Borchard was brewer and wine merchant and was mayor of Neuenhaus in 1542, 1550, 1553, 1560, 1566 and 1566 (probably the whole period). On 1 June 1594 he was imprisoned by Spanish troops and burned along with 60 other citizens!

There are also the following starting points and observations:

  • In 1386, 1393, 1400 and 1406, a trader called Borchard was mentioned in the Hanseatic City of Riga in Latvia (in the same time also a Wessel).
  • In 1443 a Burchard van Dursten was clergyman of the Diocese of Cologne and writer at a meeting in Basel.
  • In 1453 is mentioned a Borchard in the administration of the Holy Roman Empire (perhaps the same).
  • Between 1400 and 1600 there are already more wealthy families with the name in Zutphen, Arnhem, Zwolle and Kampen (all Hanseatic cities). How likely is it that there are more rich merchant families at that time with the name of Van Dorsten. In other words, these are probably related to each other.
  • Around 1535, there is also a Herman in Arnhem and Zwolle. Probably the one from Neuenhaus?
  • In 1420 there is already a reference to Clawes and Evert in Albergen just over the border in the Netherlands.
  • It is clear that the name especially pops up in the Hanseatic towns and usually related to trade.
  • From 1477-1499 and 1502-1541 played the Guelderian wars that may have had influence on migrations in the family.
  • In 1538 is Burckhardt named in a lawsuit in Hannover against Herzog Heinrich of Braunschweig, this should be the ancestor themselves.
  • In 1556 King Philips is pawning off court Lage and yard Onsterdinck to Borchairt van Dorsten. This shows the richness of this family.

Further Analysis

On the further analysis is already the necessary told in the Chronicle. Here is mainly described which new information is found and what the inconsistencies are between the various sources. In case of inconsistencies the various sources are explored and analyzed as well as possible and the most logical elaboration has been chosen. The Borchard of 1521 had two sons, Johannes (Jan) and Hermann, described below.

Son Jan had at least also two sons, Borchard and Derck, and some daughters. In the descendants of this branch are several mayors and several marriages with wealthy families. There are also found some inconsistencies in the sources (Chronicle, MyHeritage family trees, BDM) and some additions in the BDM (Baptism, Death, Marriage) of Neuenhaus found. For now, this branch didn’t proceed. Borchard got at least a son John, who has followed several studies at several universities, became master in law and was mayor of Emden (gone there during the thirty years war). He had at least one son and a daughter. Also Derck got at least a son Johannes with several children that went to Nordhorn. Also here the branch stops, but it’s good possible this proceeds elsewhere, especially in Germany to the south or east. There is at least an archive reference in 1706 to a Borchard from Ratingen that sells land at Zutphen (close by in The Netherlands). This could be well from this branch (because of the name Borchard), but also from the branch below.

Son Herman had at least a daughter Anna, who was married with judge Eilhard Krull, and three sons Petrus, Anthony and Borchard. Petrus was enrolled in the University of Groningen in 1616. Presumably, the same Peter with wife registered in 1655 in Zwolle and died there in 1664. For now nothing more is known about him. Also about Anthony, as well known as Weiland Anthony, is not much known. In the elaboration on MyHeritage (from Yvonne) another branch is described under Anthony, but in no other source has been found anything about this . So most probably that’s not right. For the son Borchard four sons are known:

  • Klaas – He registered in 1644 as a citizen in Lingen (close by Neuenhaus), got children there and died in 1669. There are indications that he could be the ancestor of the Zwartsluis family tree, see the analysis there.
  • Wolter – There is not much known about him, except that he’s counted in the 1692 census and died in 1697 in Neuenhaus. There are indications that he could be the ancestor of the Steenwijk family tree, see the analysis there.
  • Anthoni (Tonnis) – He registered in 1644 as a citizen in Nordhorn (close by Neuenhaus, so simultaneously with brother Klaas in Lingen), this was at the end of the 30-/80-year war). Fifteen years later he became mayor and got according to the record two sons, Derck and Peter; there is not much known about them. For Derck (who became mayor in Nordhorn and published the family coat of arms) is the question if he’s not confused with the Derck in the branch of Jan before (went also to Nordhorn). Peter turns out to be married to Catrina Wisseling in Groenlo and they got seven sons in Nordhorn (for two the birth date can’t be found). After that, the whole family moved to Amsterdam, where four or five of them are married and got several children (including sons). Anyway, it seems like all name carriers did not have sons! What is also interesting is that descendants of two small tribes (Other NE) from Wanneperveen and Raalte (maybe from Klaas, perhaps Wolter) around the same time also moved to Amsterdam, which could indicate a family relationship.
  • Hermann – This is the tribe from which the known descendants are derived. Herman had many children and almost all of them are married. Most of it is reasonably well-known, however, there are also the necessary open ends. For Hermann a lot has been described in the Chronicle (prosperous from the family and ruined). A tribe was created by son Albertus via Groningen to Arnhem and later on to Utrecht, Haarlem and South Africa. Through another son Hendrik the tribe proceeds which still exists in Neuenhaus. There have been found different additions (and even new still existing branches in other countries) compared to all other sources.

There are also the following findings and remarks:

  • Neuenhaus (and Nordhorn) was at that time connected with the region Zwolle-Kampen via the then important (for trade) Overijsselse Vecht (flows in the IJssel river at Zwartsluis) and was a supply route by, among others, amber. This also explains the possible relationships with the branches in Overijssel.
  • Early 18th century withdrew from different branches various descendants to Amsterdam. These were here pretty extensive, but it seems that no branches proceeded here.
  • The Dutch branch goes through son Albertus of Herman from Neuenhaus to Groningen and with his son Jan to Arnhem. This connection has been proved by Arie van der Marel, the records of this are in the archives of Groningen and copies are in possession. In the 20th century this branch went to South Africa.
  • A branch within the Albertus tree has continued through a daughter Jansje who was married to Antonie Elskamp. Son Henry (1883) attracted to America in the early 20th century and called himself there to the mother Van Dorsten. This branch is now still active in the United States.
  • Descendants of Anthonie (1834) are found in the UK (Kensington-London) and probably still have descendants.
  • There are two other small twigs found, Anton Cornelis Jozinus (1870) in California/Alabama and Jacobus (1878) in North Carolina, with living descendants in the US.
  • There are still seven women between 1650 and 1750 (mostly marriages) who almost certainly come from this family tree. But the exact relationships and origins of all these individuals are unclear.
  • The Chronicle describes that two cousins both with the name Antony after each other married with the same cousin Gese. However, based on all the digital available BDM data of Amsterdam, there are strong doubts if that really happened. In addition, the second mentioned Anthony didn’t go to Amsterdam at that moment but was already married before (10 years before!) in Amsterdam and got some children there.
  • There have been found many additions in relation to the other sources for this family tree.

Sources and Do You Know

There are some interesting facts about the references in the archives:

  • The first reports are already in the 16th century in the wider area (based on wealth and court cases).
  • Many reports in the 17th century (assets, court cases, witnesses), even though at Osnabruck, Emden and Oldenburg.
  • Very many reports in the 18th century, but mainly in the Netherlands via the branches going to Amsterdam and the branch that via Groningen went to Arnhem and later Utrecht. Also many VOC notifications here (ships).
  • Many have been mayor (5 times Neuenhaus, 2 times Nordhorn and Emden) or married a mayor.
  • Many of them were in addition often also brewer and wine merchant (especially between 1500 and 1700).
  • Peter van Dorsten from Neuenhaus went in 1616 at the University of Groningen. Johannes van Dorsten went studying in 1635 in Franeker, 1637 in Leiden, 1640 in Groningen and 1642 again in Leiden (could also have been 2 different persons). He was master in law and became mayor of Emden.
  • Daughter Gratia of this Johannes married in 1675 with the Council-ordinary at the Court of Friesland. Her testament is still available.
  • Jan van Dorsten (the son of Albertus who went to Groningen) became a well-known silversmith in Arnhem.
  • End of the 18th century was his daughter Hendrica together with Johan van der Hoek owner of café De Gouden Leeuw in Arnhem.
  • And his daughter Josina was the wife of Ulijsses Contcet (former Commander of a Regiment Swiss soldiers).
  • Anthonie from 1863 became physician in Dutch-India. He became an officer in the order of Orange-Nassau.

Actual Status

You can find a description of the Neuenhaus family in the chronicle (see Documentation). Large parts of the Neuenhaus family tree can be found on MyHeritage, however there is more information available than shown there:

Below is an overview of the pedigree with name-bearing descendants. There is a somewhat larger branch in South Africa and further two branches in the Netherlands, two branches in the United States, one branch in Germany and probably another branch in Great Britain. Under the menu option Genealogy you can find all the details of this family tree.




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