Provinces, Municipalities, Towns and Villages of the Netherlands


The Netherlands. The areas marked in red are the provinces of Friesland, Drenthe, and Groningen.

The Netherlands is made up of 12 provinces; the provinces are made up of municipalities; the municipalities are made up of towns and villages.

I want to highlight three provinces in northern Netherlands: Friesland, Drenthe, and Groningen. Most of my Dutch family came from the province of Friesland. A few came from Drenthe and Groningen.


The provinces of Friesland, Groningen, and Drenthe.

Many of the old villages merged with other towns and villages in the 1980s-1990s. Also, many municipalities merged or disappeared. It’s necessary to know the new name in order to use the cemetery site, This is not a trivial exercise, since at the beginning of the 20th century there were more than 1,000 municipalities in the Netherlands. This number was around 400 at the beginning of the 21st century.

This is a place to park scraps of information about these communities until I figure out what else to do with what I learn.

How to use the Dutch census records

This information comes from Dutch Genealogy, a blog written by Yvette Hoitink, a professional genealogist in the Netherlands.

The Dutch census records are called population registers. Since 1850, the Dutch population registers form a continuous record about who lived where at all times. They differ from census records in that they were kept up-to-date during the period the register covers (usually 10 years). That is why you find lines drawn through the names on the register–people have moved during that 10-year period.

The first nation-wide census was held in 1795. After this, a census was held every 10 years.

Census records are one of the most important resources for finding emigrants. Most people reported to their municipality that they were going to emigrate.

The records can be found in local archives, such as municipal or regional archives. Not many are available online. FamilySearch has put some of these records online: “Netherlands, Census and Population Registers, 1574-1940.” Friesland and its municipalities are found here at FamilySearch. These records are not indexed.

A Word About Land Records

The word about land records is this: don’t bother to look for them, because most people in the Netherlands did not own real estate, according to Dutch genealogist Yvette Hoitink:

 Most farmers were tenant farmers, living on the same land for generations. Others were seasonal laborers who moved from town to town every year. It is rare to find tenancy contracts or rental agreements as these things were usually arranged between the owner and the tenant without registration by a notary or court. In cities, many workers were too poor to own their own house.

A Word About the Cemeteries

It is a common practice in the Netherlands, as well as other European countries, to bury the dead in rented graves. Graves are usually leased for 10 to 20 years–or sometimes 25 years (a generation). It is often possible to extend the lease, but in practice this happens only if the partner of the deceased is still alive.

It is customary for the cemetery to try to contact the next of kin when a lease has expired and the cemetery plans to remove a grave. If they are not successful, then they might put up a notice or place a sign at the grave, warning that it will soon be removed.

When a grave is removed, tombstones are usually destroyed, as are the remains of the coffin and other goods found in the grave. Human remains are collected and buried in a collective grave or ossuary, on the cemetery or elsewhere.

(Information from Trace your Dutch Roots quarterly newsletter, Issue #14, Oct. 2009)

In truth, I’ve found many gravesites for my relatives that are long past the 25-year mark. So I don’t know how this grave rental actually works in practice. If someone thinks a relative is buried in a particular cemetery and they can’t be found at a site like, then probably the best thing to do is to contact the cemetery board to find out the practices of a particular cemetery. I believe that most cemeteries keep books with the information about who was buried there and when. Clearly many if not most of these village cemeteries surround the village church.

GRONINGEN is one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands, the farthest northeast of the provinces. In the south is Drenthe, in the west is Friesland.

1868 Map of Groningen

The capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Groningen.

Municipalities of Groningen

Finsterwolde Municipality, a separate municipality until 1990, when it was merged with Beerta into Reiderland. In 2010 Reiderland merged into the municipality of Oldambt. The old municipality of Finsterwolde included six nearby settlements. Finsterwolde is also a village. The town was named “Little Moscow” by Time magazine in 1950 because, since 1933, communists have had the majority of votes (from Wikipedia).

Map of Finsterwold, 1868

The cemetery at Finsterwolde can be found at Graftombe.

Possible burials at Finsterwolde Cemetery:
Dorathea Wilhelmina Lantzetzer VAN VREENINGEN, d. 6 Dec 1861. My 3x great grandmother.
Antje Albertus Wolthek VISSCHER, d. 15 Jun 1863. My 3x great grandmother.
Jan Hindriks VISSCHER, d. 1830. My 3x great grandfather.
Maas VAN VREENINGEN, d. 1832. My 3x great grandfather.

Who lived there?
Jan Hindriks VISSCHER
, born c.1784 in Finsterwolde, Reiderland, Groningen. My 3x great grandfather.
Antje Albertus WOLTHEK, born 1790, Finsterwolde. My 3x great grandmother. Married to Jan Hindriks VISSCHER.
Aaltje Jans VISSCHER, born 1819, Finsterwolde. My 2x great grandmother. Married to Gerrit VAN VREENINGEN.


DRENTHE is one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands, located in the northeast of the country. The province of Friesland is to the south; the province of Groningen to the north. Drenthe has been an official province since 1796.

1868 Map of Drenthe

The capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Assen.

Municipalities of Drenthe

Borger-Odoorn is a municipality that includes the town of Odoorn.

Who lived there?
, born 1816, Borger-Odoorn. My 2x great grandfather.

FRIESLAND is one of the twelve provinces of the Netherlands. It is the only one of the twelve to have its own language, West Frisian. It’s located in the northwest of the Netherlands–west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe, and south of the North Sea.

By the medieval era, the scattered homesteads of Frisian families began to give way to nucleated village settlements, each centered on a small church built on high ground. A group of villages forms a gemeente, or a community, which is similar to, but not identical with, the concept of the county in the U.S.(1)

Frisians have a tradition of a strong sense of community, expressed in the concept of buorreplicht (neighbor’s duty). Neighbors provide assistance to one another when the occasion demands it. By extension, neighbors are expected to attend one another’s life-cycle events (weddings, funerals, etc.). Neighbor relations, rather than kinship ties, are the principal vehicle for the formation of larger cooperative groups in Frisian society. (2)

The capital and seat of the provincial government is the city of Leeuwarden.

1868 Map of Friesland

Municipalities of Friesland

Barradeel Municipality is a former municipality that existed until 1984. The old municipality of Barradeel is now largely a part of Franekeradeel Municipality.

Map of Barradeel, 1861.

Map of Barradeel, 1868 The map includes the towns and villages of Pietersbierum, Sexbierum, Tzummarum, and Minnertsga, among others.

Village of Sexbierum (Dutch); Seisbierrum (Fries)


The cemetery associated with Sexbierum is Kerkhof Sexbierum (Cemetery Sexbierum). It can be found at both Graftombe and at Find-a-grave.

Possible burials:
Knierke “Cunira” Hessels HOMMEMA ROORDA, died 9 Jul 1829 in Sexbierum, age 46. My 3x great grandmother.


Cemetery at Sexbierum. Photo credit: author’s private collection, c.2010

Village of Pietersbierum
The cemetery at Pietersbierum can be found at Graftombe.
Possible burials:
Pieter Jacobs BOSMA, died 2 Dec 1859. My 3x great grandfather.
Reintje Pieters Bosma ROORDA, died 26 Aug 1872. My 2x great grandmother

Who lived there?
1830 Population Registration Schedule for Pietersbierum, Barradeel
[Found at FamilySearch, Netherlands and Population Registers, 1574-1940, Friesland, Barradeel, Bevolkingsregister 1830, 1840, Image 444/517.]
BOSMA, Pieter Jacobs, head of household, age 47, b. Oosterbierum, Barradeel, occupation “Zetmeyer”–I don’t know what that is. Maybe it’s not a “Z”.
Bosma, Jogchum Pieters, age 13, b. Oosterbierum, occupation “Boenenknigt”??
Bosma, Jella [maybe Jelle] Pieters, age 11, born Oosterbierum
Bosma, Syke Pieters, age 26, b. Peins, occupation “Zender”??
Bosma, Wytske Pieters, age 24, b. Peins, occupation “Zender”??
Bosma, Reintje Pieters, age 19, b. Peins, occupation “Zender”?? [She’s my 2x great grandmother. She married Tjerk Jans ROORDA.


1830 Population Registration for Pietersbierum, Barradeel, the Pieter Jacobs BOSMA family

Village of Tzummarum
The cemetery at Tzummarum can be found at Graftombe.


The Reformed Church at Tzummarum with surrounding cemetery, c.1920. Photo credit: Tresoar, No. D137

Village of Minnertsga
In 1810, the village had 800 inhabitants.
Minnertsga is very close to Sint Jacobiparochie


From an early map of Barradeel, Friesland. Het Bildt shares a border with Barradeel, much like a county line in the U.S.

The tower of the Reformed Church in Minnertsga dominates the village.


The tower of the Reformed Church in the background, c.1900. The tower is present in just about every old photo I’ve see of Minnertsga on Tresoar. Photo credit: Tresoar, No. 38215

The cemetery at Minnertsga can be found at Graftombe

Possible burials:
Trijntje Hyltjes Vellinga RUYGH, died 5 Sep 1849. My 3x great grandmother. She was 56 years old.
Sijbrand Jans RUYGH, died 9 Dec. 1859. My 3x great grandfather. He was 66 years old.

Who lived there?
1830 Population Register for Minnertsga, Barradeel
[Found at FamilySearch, Netherlands and Population Registers, 1574-1940, Friesland, Barradeel, Bevolkingsregister 1830, 1840, Image 31/517.]
Ruigh, Sybrand Jans, age 37, born Terschelling, occupation gardener, Protestant
Tellinga, Tryntje Hyltjes, age 37, born Minnertsga, occupation shop keeper, Protestant
Ruigh, Antje Sybrands, age 6, b. Minnertsga
Ruigh, Jan Sybrands, age 3, b. Minnertsga
Ruigh, Tietje Sybrands, age 1, b. Minnertsga [not sure of “Tietje”]
Gerbens, Antje, age 63, b. Minnertsga [this is Tryntje Vellinga’s mother]
Visser, Lysbet Jans, age 14, b. Sexbierum


1830 Population Registration for Minnertsga, Barradeel, Friesland

1850-1860 Population Register for Minnertsga, Barradeel
[Found at FamilySearch, Netherlands and Population Registers, 1574-1940, Friesland, Barradeel, Bevolkingsregister 1850-1860, Image 399/1895.]
RUIGH, Sybrand, b. 1792, Terschelling, widow, died 9 Dec 1859 [1854?]
RUIGH, Jan, b. 1821, Minnertsga [his is the only name not crossed out]
RUIGH, Antje, b. 1823, Minnertsga, “leaving the town” 13 Mei 1854
RUICH, Tetje, b. 1823, Minnertsga [twins??], “leaving the town” 28 January? June? 1851


Population Registration, 1850-1860, Minnertsga, Barradeel, Friesland. Image 399/1895.

Dantumadeel Municipality (Dutch); Dantumadiel (Fries)

Map of Dantumadeel, 1868. Includes the village of Rinsumageest, among others.

Village of Rinsumageest
Rinsumageest Cemetery can be found at Graftombe.

Possible burials at Rinsumageest Cemetery:
Gerrit VAN VREENINGEN, d. 1884. My 2x great grandfather. Not in the database at Graftombe, probably because his gravestone has been destroyed. Look in the cemetery books here for VAN VREENINGEN.
Aaltje Jans Visscher VAN VREENINGEN, d. 1868. My 2x great grandmother.

Who lived there?
, born c.1779, Dantumadeel. My 4x great grandfather.


This photo is in the public domain.

Franekeradeel Municipality (Dutch); Frentsjerteradiel (Fries). Franekeradeel was created in 1984 by combining an earlier Franekeradeel municipality with the city of Franeker and parts of the former municipality of Barradeel.

Map of Franekeradeel, 1868. Includes the villages of Peins and Ried, among others.

Village of Oosterbierum
The cemetery at Oosterbierum can be found at Graftombe.

Who lived there?
Jogchum Harmens DONIA
, born c.1752 in Oosterbierum. My 4x great grandfather.

Village of Peins
The cemetery at Peins can be found at Graftombe.


The Reformed Church at Peins

Village of Ried
The cemetery at Ried can be found at Graftombe.


The cemetery at Ried. Photo Credit: Private collection of author.

Harlingen Municipality
1868 Map of Harlingen. Includes the town of Harlingen, among others.

Town of Harlingen
Harlingen is a town on the seaboard of the Waddenzee, 38 km. west of Leeuwarden and 28 km. northwest of Sneek.

Harlingen General Cemetery can be found at Graftombe.


Harlingen General Cemetery, c.2005

The cemetery is on the northern outskirts of the town in Begraafplaatslaan, a turning off of Midlumerlaan.

Possible burials:
Jan Tjerks ROORDA, died 28 Aug. 1836, 58 years old. My 3x great grandfather.

Het Bildt Municipality

Map of Het Bildt [also, It Bilt], 1868. Includes the towns of Sint Annaparochie, Sint Jacobiparochie, and Vrouwenparochie, among others.

Village of Sint Annaparochie
 The cemetery of St. Annaparochie can be found at Graftombe.


The Reformed Church at Sint Annaparochie, c.1903. Photo credit: Tresoar E77

Possible burials:
Tjerk Pieters ROORDA, d. 29 Nov. 1813. My 4x great grandfather.
Martentje GAELES ROORDA, d. 1816. My 4x great grandmother.
Maartje Jarigs Winselaar VAN DIJK, d. 1827. My 3x great grandmother.
Pieter Jacobs VAN DIJK, d. 1827. My 3x great grandfather.

Village of Vrouwenparochie (Dutch); Froubuorren (Fries)
The cemetery of Vrouwenparochie can be found at Graftombe.

Who lived there?
Tjerk Pieters ROORDA
, born 1741 in Vrouwenparochie. He was a farmer.

Village of Sint Jacobiparochie
The cemetery of Sint Jacobiparochie can be found at Graftombe.

Who lived there?
Kornelis Sjoerds PETERSON
, born 1743 in Sint Jacobiparochie. My 4x great grandfather.

Leeuwarderadeel Municipality

Map of Leeuwarderadeel, 1868. Includes the towns of Hijum, Finkum, and Stiens, among others.

Town of Stiens
The cemetery at Stiens can be found at Graftombe.

Who lived there?
Tjerk Jans ROORDA
, 1813 born Stiens, Leeuwarderadeel. My 2x great grandfather.

Village of Finkum
The cemetery at Finkum can be found at Graftombe.

Possible burials at Finkum Cemetery:
Hessel Lolkes HOMMEMA, my 4x great grandfather. Died 14 May 1792.

Who lived there?
Hessel Lolkes HOMMEMA, a farmer in Finkum. Born 1733, place of birth unknown. My 4x great grandfather.
Jan Tjerks Roorda
, born 1780, Finkum, Leeuwarderadeel. My 3x great grandfather.
Knierke Hessels Hommema, born 1782, Finkum. My 3x great grandmother. Married to Jan Tjerks Roorda.


The church at Finkum, 1723

Village of Hijum
The cemetery at Hijum can be found at Graftombe.

Who lived there?
Lijsbeth Roelofs ROELOF
born 1748 at Hijum. My 4x great grandmother.
Knierke Hessels HOMMEMA and Jan Tjerks ROORDA married 1803 at Hijum. They were both born in Finkum. My 3x great grandfather and grandmother.

Menaldumadeel Municipality (Dutch spelling); Menameradiel (Fries spelling)

Map of Menaldumadeel, 1868. Includes the town of Berlikum

Town of Berlikum


The old domed church in Berlikum, built in 1777. Photo Credit: from the author’s private collection, c.2005

The cemetery for Berlikum is Berlikum Hervormde Kerk Begraafplaats (Berlikum Reformed Church Cemetery). This cemetery can be found at both the Graftombe site and at Find-a-grave. The cemetery is situated around the old domed church, built in 1777. The 17th century tombstones that still exist in the graveyard indicate an even longer church history. The gilt lettering on the gate reads, “MEMENTO MORI,” the only Latin to be seen in the town, meaning “Remember, you must die.” [To find the church on GoogleMaps, go to 1 Buorren, Berlikum, Friesland.]

If the death record states that a person died in Berlikum, then they are probably buried in this cemetery, since this is the only cemetery found in the town. The website for the cemetery says this [Google translation, so the wording is approximate]:

The cemetery in Berlikum is situated around the dome. It is not known when it was put into use, but the church was built in 1777. The oldest preserved books date back to 1845. Burial rights may be bought for 20 to 25 years.

Possible burials:
Martentje Gabes DE JONG, d. 4 Jun 1827, age 58. My 4x great grandmother.
Klaas Johannes WERKHOVEN, d. 29 Apr 1836, age 79. He was my 4x great grandfather.
Trijntje Kornelis Peterson HOEKSTRA, d. 11 Apr 1849, age 56. she was my 3x great grandmother.
Geertje Klazes Werkhoven DE JONG, d. 7 Nov. 1873. My 3x great grandmother.

Who lived there?
Martentje GAELES
born 1755 at Berlikum. My 4x great grandmother. Her family may have taken the name BOUMA.
Klaas Johannes WERKHOVEN, born 1756 at Berlikum. My 4x great grandfather.
Akke KLAZES, born 1764 at Berlikum. My 4x great grandmother.
Trijntje Kornelis PETERSON, born 1792 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandmother.
Heerke Jans HOEKSTRA, born 1794 at Menaldumadeel, probably Berlikum. My 3x great grandfather.
Sije Wybes DE JONG, born 1799 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandfather.
Geertje Klazes WERKHOVEN, born c.1800 at Menaldumadeel, probably Berlikum. My 3x great grandmother. This is Akke’s mother.
Jans HOEKSTRA and Trijntje Kornelis PETERSON married 1821 at Menaldumadeel, most likely in Berlikum.
Geertje Klazes WERKHOVEN and Sije Wybes DE JONG married 1825 at Berlikum.
Martentje Gabes DEJONG, d. 1827 at Menaldumadeel, probably Berlikum. She was Akke’s grandmother.
Klaas Johannes WERKHOVEN died 1836 at Berlikum. My 4x great grandfather.
Trijntje Kornelis Peterson HOEKSTRA, died 1849 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandmother.
Kornelis Heerkes HOEKSTRA and Akke Sijes DE JONG married 1854 at Berlikum. My 2x great grandparents.
Sye Kornelis HOEKSTRA born 1857 at Berlikum. My great grandfather.
Heerke Jans HOEKSTRA died 1865 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandfather.
Kornelis Heerkes HOEKSTRA died 1869 at Berlikum. My 2x great grandfather.
Geertje Klazes Werkhoven DE JONG died 1873 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandmother.
Sije Wybes DE JONG died 1882 at Berlikum. My 3x great grandfather.

1849-1859 population register for Berlikum, Menaldumadeel, Friesland [Netherlands, Census and Population Registers, 1574-1940, Friesland > Menaldumadeel > Bevolkingsregister 1849-1859, Image 769/1937. FamilySearch]
HOEKSTRA, Kornelis Heerkes, head of household, b. 1827, Berlikum, Gardener
DE JONG, Akke Sijes, b. 1827, Berlikum
HOEKSTRA, Tryntje Kornelis, b. 1855, Berlikum
HOEKSTRA, Heerke Kornelis, b. 13 Sep 1859, Berlikum


From the 1849-1850 population registration for Berlikum, Menaldumadeel. Image 769/1937 at FamilySearch.

Opsterland Municipality

Map of Opsterland, 1868. Includes the towns of Luxwolde, Terwispel, and Tijnje, among others.

Town of Gorredijk (Dutch); De Gordyk (Fries)

The largest town in the municipality of Opsterland.

There are two cemeteries at Gorredijk and both are found at Graftombe: Gorredijk and Gorredijk kerkepad

Village of Tijnje (Dutch spelling); De Tynje (Fries spelling)

The cemetery for Tijnje is the Tijnje General Cemetery. This cemetery can be found both at Graftombe and at Find-a-Grave. The oldest gravestone in the Tijnje Cemetery on the database is 1891, although it’s quite rare in this cemetery to find one that old. Most start in the early 1900s. Find the cemetery book to learn when this cemetery was created.

Possible burials:
Tjerk Jans ROORDA, d. 1885 in Luxwoude, a tiny village near Tijnje. My 2x great grandfather. In the 1868 map of Opsterland, Luxwoude and Terwispel are both larger villages than Tijnje. Luxwoude is spelled “Luxwolde” on the 1868 map.

Confirmed burials:
Anna Jantina van Vreeningen ROORDA, d. 1944 in Utrecht; buried at Tijnje. My great grandmother.
Jacobus Tjerks ROORDA, d. 1946 in Utrecht; buried at Tijnje. My great grandfather.


The cemetery at the village of Tijnje, Opsterland, Netherlands. Photo credit: from the author’s private collection, c.2010

Village of Terwispel
The cemetery at Terwispel can be found at Graftombe and at Find-a-grave.


The church at Terwispel has been renovated and enlarged since this photo was taken.

The “People’s Tavern,” run by the Loopstra family, including Hiske DE LEEUW and her daughter, Froukje LOOPSTRA. A story for another day.


The “People’s Tavern.” Hiske de Leeuw, owner, is standing outside, c.1900. The building has been demolished. Photo credit, Tresoar No. 103644

Wonseradeel (Wunseradiel) Municipality
1868 Map of Wonseradeel

The Village of Kimswerd

Kimswerd Kerk Cemetery


(1) From

(2) From

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One Response to Provinces, Municipalities, Towns and Villages of the Netherlands

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #6 of 52: The “Greats” of the Netherlands, So Far Away | The Shoebox Under the Bed

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