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Geesink to Walvoort


Why the family name changed

According to a family tradition, a court official in the country of Holland by the name of Walvoort wished to establish his name. He was married but childless. He was a wealthy man and had many servants. So, to solve his problem, one day he made a proposition to a man and woman who happened to be two of his favorite servants. He told them, “If you will marry and adopt my name, Walvoort, you can inherit all of my wealth.” So the couple were married. Their original name was Geesink.

The above tradition has been handed down through generations.  Not much else was known other than a few family members remembering that some sort of “adoption” happened long ago.  Although I’ve been unable to authenticate whether there is any legitimacy in this tale, I will be able to shed “some” light on why this name change occurred.

Obviously, a name change did occur.  A man named Jan Derk Geesink (born 10 March 1716/17 in Winterswijk, Netherlands) had children with the surname of Walvoort.  Most all living Walvoorts/Walvoords descended from Jan Derk Geesink and his wife Elisabeth Ten Bokkel (born 17 March 1714/15 in Aalten, Netherlands).

This occurrence has its roots in Dutch Tradition and can even be seen in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The Dutch people of the 16th century and later had a very specific practice in naming their children (kinder).  First, a little background.

In naming their sons (zoons),

  1. First son is named for his paternal grandfather (grootvader).
  2. Second son is named for his maternal grandfather.
  3. Third son is named for his father’s paternal grandfather (overgrootvader).
  4. Fourth son is named for his mother’s paternal grandfather.
  5. Fifth son is named for his father’s maternal grandfather.
  6. Sixth son is named for his mother’s maternal grandfather.

In naming their daughters (dochters),

  1. First daughter is named for her maternal grandmother (grootmoeder).
  2. Second daughter is named for her paternal grandmother.
  3. Third daughter is named for her mother’s maternal grandmother (overgrootmoeder).
  4. Forth daughter is named for her father’s maternal grandmother.
  5. Fifth daughter is named for her mother’s paternal grandmother.
  6. Sixth daughter is named for her father’s paternal grandmother.

If the family had more than twelve children or more than six children of one gender, the above system simply extended to the next generation of ancestors.

If a widow remarried, the first son of the subsequent marriage was given the name of the deceased husband.  Apparently, this particular situation plays a role in why Geesink changes to Walvoort.

Before Elisabeth Ten Bokkel married Jan Derk Geesink, she had been married to Anthonij In ‘t Walvoort who died sometime before 1743.  It is not known if any children were born to her through this first marriage.  Note: “In ‘t Walvoort” is a contraction of “In het Walvoort” (het is Dutch for “the”), so “In the Walvoort” was shortened to Walvoort.

It is believed that when Elisabeth’s husband Anthonij died, she inherited the land he owned.  When she remarried, her new husband, Jan Derk Geesink, agreed to have the children carry on the name of the previous owner of her land.  In fact the first one or two children they had together were given the surname “Geesink Walvoort” but eventually this just became “Walvoort.”

The Old Testament story of Ruth in the Bible tells of a similar story in Chapter four, Verses 1-10:

1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there. When the kinsman-redeemer he had mentioned came along, Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.  2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so.  3 Then he said to the kinsman-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  4 I thought I should bring the matter to your attention and suggest that you buy it in the presence of these seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you will redeem it, do so. But if you will not, tell me, so I will know. For no one has the right to do it except you, and I am next in line.” “I will redeem it,” he said.  5 Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi and from Ruth the Moabitess, you acquire the dead man’s widow, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property.”  6 At this, the kinsman-redeemer said, “Then I cannot redeem it because I might endanger my own estate. You redeem it yourself. I cannot do it.”  7 (Now in earlier times in Israel, for the redemption and transfer of property to become final, one party took off his sandal and gave it to the other. This was the method of legalizing transactions in Israel.)  8 So the kinsman-redeemer said to Boaz, “Buy it yourself.” And he removed his sandal.  9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion and Mahlon.  10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records. Today you are witnesses!”  (NIV)

This is my best explanation for why the name changed and why Walvoorts and Walvoords descended from Geesink.


Updated: September 15, 2011 — 7:26 PM
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