How old became Willemina?

Twins born on Boxing Day 1824

Notes to the deeds from the registers of Deventer

Willem Gerritsen van der Hoop is a coachman. He works for a coaching service. Which one is not yet clear. His work brings him through large parts of the Netherlands and he is often from home. For that reason he and his wife Luberta still live with her parents in Deventer.

On sunday, December 26th, on Boxing Day 1824, Luberta gives birth to twins, two girls. But delivery is not going well. One girl dies almost immediately after birth, the other lives but is also weak.

Willem waits 2 days before he is going to report the children. On the morning of tuesday, December 28, he will be at the town hall of Deventer and he is standing in front of the alderman Hendrik Willem van Marle, together with his father-in-law Harmen van Noessel. He reports the good and the bad news. His deceased child is included in the death register, without further name. His other daughter, now 2 days old, is listed in the birth register.

Below you can find both deeds from the registers of Deventer.

Willem’s Age

It is striking that in many deeds where Willem’s age is mentioned, he is often referred to as a year younger than he is in reality at the time. The cause probably lies with Willem himself. He was born on March 23, 1799 but he does, accidentally or intentionally, as if he was born in 1800. The official asks him about his age and he mentions, perhaps for the convenience, the last two digits of the year. And the official has no doubt that the man in his coaching uniform is not lying.

Once again proof that information from deeds in the civil registers may not always be considered reliable for 100%.

Even more sorrow

But also the health of the second girl, Willemina, is very fragile. On the same day that he reports her birth, Willemina dies at the end of the afternoon on Tuesday, December 28. The drama is now immense.

The next day, Wednesday the 29th, Willem goes to the town hall again and reports the death of Willemina. There he stands in front of the same council man, Hendrik van Marle, as the day before. You wonder if the two men have talked to each other. Did the official have a comforting word for Willem? Or was the distance between the two men of different positions for this to be too big?

Resurrected, after 36 years?

And now the riddle. Because on Wednesday 9 January 1861, Willemina Gerritsen van der Hoop marries Johannes Castelijn in Zutphen. From the excerpt of the birth register of Deventer, Willemina was born on 26 December 1824. So she hasn’t died 2 days after her birth, as we thought!

But what happened? Who died on 28 December 1824? Is Willemina really the one she says she is? In short, what could have happened in 1824?

In the side line of the death certificate of Willemina, pictured above, the annotation may be able to bring the solution. Unfortunately it is difficult to read what it says. A number is listed. What does it cover? The last word seems somewhat like “vreugde” what means “joy” or something like that. Or is the wish the mother of thought?

Who knows what it may say. What I do know is that, as I reported earlier, the registers of the marital status are not always as reliable.


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