SOUTH-AFRICA-L ArchivesArchiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2005-08 > 1124528801
From: "gpieterse" <>
Subject: Re: Re: [ZA] deciphering signatures
Date: Sat, 20 Aug 2005 11:06:41 +0200
References: <110JHsV1p3536S03.email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If one is in any doubt how spelling can become mangled accross the language
barriers, especially as the clergy were often German or Scottish, read books
like Lady Anne Barnard's travelogues. The British rarely went out of their
way to ensure that they spelt the names of Dutch people, their farms or wild
animals correctly, but rather a phonetic version which you have to read out
loud. This is not unique. We have the same problem with the Dutch officials
who had to register the Frisian populace during the years 1811 to 1812. The
pronunciation of the ancient Frisian names is usually only decipherable if
you read it out loud. That's why it is so important to be creative when
In Friesland the huisman (landed gentry) often had a specific mark to sign
documents - this mark was also used to brand cattle and engrave onto
implements and belongings and was distinctive. Much like the 'oormerk' and
branding systems still in use all over the world today. With the difference
that this brand mark was also used on documents. I am assuming that the
people could read, though, as there were often books in the inventory. I
haven't seen similar ones on Cape documents, they always used a cross.
During the late 1800's and early 1900's thousands of Frisians emigrated to
America. At Ellis island their names went through an Anglising process and
often came out much different on the other side. Hendrik Willem and Jan were
straightforward, Henry, William and John, but the transformation of Sjoerdt
to George, Douwe to Dewey, Tryntje to Theresa, Anke to Agnes, Minke to May,
Jouwe to Joe, and De Jong to DeYong which almost seounds Chinese, takes more
imagination when searching their social security database!
From: "Richard Ball"
> Hello Keith,
> KM> I should add that the clergy were not always literate
> If, by literate, you mean they couldn't read and write I think you are
> probably wrong. Many of the Dutch Reformed Clergy were not, in
> fact, born Dutchmen. In the early years some were German, and
> in the 19th Century many were Scottish.
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