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Decree of Napoleon and the adoption of the family name Laagland

Decree of Napoleon 1811 on Family Names In the Netherlands

In the Netherlands in 1811 the Napoleonic decree made it law that the head of each family should register at their local municipality a chosen surname. This led to a large increase in newly adopted 'fixed' surnames. Particularly in the north and east of the Netherlands where many families had until this time not used permanent surnames. Rather from generation to generation they would adopt the male parents first name as a surname for the next generation and as a result each successive generation would have a different last name (surname). Many families, begining with nobility, adopted surnames at a much earlier date, even as early as the sixteenth century. There were four main categories from which surnames were derived:

1. Geographic
2. Aliases and Nicknames
3. Occupational and trade surnames
4. Patronymic and matronymic surnames (derived from the individuals father's or mother's name).

The Laagland surname translates to the english as Lowland and obviously indicates a geographic derivation. Klaas Joostes and Antje Hettes son Hette Klazes adopted the Laagland family name in 1811 as a result of the Napoleonic decree. Hette Klazes registered the Laagland family name on behalf of himself and his three daughters 'Tjitske 33, Antje 26, Akke 25, all of Snikswaag and his son Klaas 30 of Westermeer'. He also registered his son Klaas's two children Teerde Klaasz 5 and Hette Klaasz 5 (months?), both of Westermeer. [source: Mairie Joure, fol 3v]

Hette Klazes daughter Tjitske registered in Joure the surname Vries on behalf of her two children Geertje and Hette 4, and her late husband, Meine Jans all of Snikzwaag.
[source: Mairie Joure, fol. 100v]

Hette Klazes was a 1796 Revolutionary for the Batavian Republic and a member of the municipaliteit of Haskerland. It is possible Hette Klazes chose the surname Laagland (English trans. Lowlands) with a great sense of pride as a Revolutionary for his country, a country referred to by many as the Lowlands.

Decree of Napoleon

In the Palace of St.Cloud, August the 18th 1811
Napoleon, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Rhine-alliance, Negotiator of the Swiss Alliance.
On the report of our Supreme-Judge Minister of Justice; Respecting our Decree of July 20th 1808; Consulting our Statescouncil;

We made the following decree:

Art 1. Our subjects in the departments of the former Holland, Mouths of the Rhine, Mouths of the Scheldt, the county of Breda, which did not have a regular family or first name, must during the year of the announcement of our current decree adopt one and register this name at the register of the civil town, where they are living.

Art 2. Names of cities will not be allowed as family names. First names are accepted like the which are allowed by law of the II germinal in the II th year.

Art 3. The mayors which register the inhabitants of their towns, will check and give notice to the government that the previous articles were respected. They are also bound to inform the government about civilians who have changed their name without conducting according to the rules of the above mentioned law of II Germinal IIth year.

Art 4. The subjects the departments of the former Holland, mouths of the Rhine, mouths of the Scheldt, the county of Breda, which already carry for a longer time well known names and first names which were originated in those towns are excluded from the rules of the current decree.

Art 5. The subjects, of the previous article, which want to keep their name and first names, are bound to register themselves in the town where they live or in the town where they are planning to settle: this all within the time as mentioned in article 1.

Art 6.The family name, which the father, or, by indeposition of him, the grandfather on the fathers side, will accept ,or which name will be granted, will be given to all children, which will be bound, to carry the same family name in the certificates; therefore the father, or, by indisposition the grandfather, the children and grandchildren will mention in his registration as well as the place of living; and for our subjects who's father, or by his indeposition, their grandfather is still alive, have only to state that he is alive and give his place of living.

Art 7.Those, which by the current decree not act according to the given formalities and time, and those, which, in some public paper or private agreement, arbitrary and not act following the rules of the II germinal IIth year, have changed their names, will be punished in accordance with the applicable laws.

Art 8. Our supreme judge-minister of justice and our minister of internal affairs are, for their respective duties in charge with the execution of the current Decree, which will be placed in the bulletin of laws.

(signed) NAPOLEON

Representing the Emperor, the Minister Secretary of State,

(signed) Count DARU

Owner of originalTresoar: Mairie Joure, fol 3v & 100v
Linked toHette Klazes LAAGLAND

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