Columns Methodology

Kadasterviewer: land registration in the Netherlands

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from clients is: “Where in the Netherlands did my ancestors live?” This question is easy to answer if an address is mentioned in one of the records that are available for your Dutch family members. Most bigger cities in the Netherlands introduced addresses (street name plus house number) in the second half of the 19th century. Smaller towns often started later, in the beginning of the 20th century.

If her birth record says that Johanna Jacobina Hofman was born in Amsterdam at Haarlemmerdijk TT-425, you have an address to start looking for. You do need to convert these old addresses to (more) recent ones, before you can actually go to the city and visit ‘the house’. (Keep in mind that the address you found may still exist, while the actual 19th century house was demolished and replaced by a modern building.)

Addresses are also mentioned in population registers. Take a look at one of the population registers of Rotterdam and you will see that Cornelia Francisca Altfeer first lived at Diergaardekade 16, then Diergaardekaarde 15. From 21 April 1888 on she lived at Helmersstraat 46 and finally since 12 July 1892 at Weenastraat 38. Again, you have to figure out first if these addresses still exist.

It becomes more difficult to locate your ancestor’s home in the Netherlands if you do not find an address in civil registers, population registers or other records. One registration that can help you find out where you ancestors lived, is the kadaster or land registration. If your ancestor owned property, for example a house, a farm or just a piece of land, he or she will be mentioned in the kadaster registers. Unfortunately, those who rented a house and did not own any property will not be found in these registers.

The central government started land registration by the kadaster agency in most of the Dutch municipalities in the 1820s. An initial inventory of all the property in the country was (officially) completed by 1 January 1832. From that moment on every piece of land – big or small, with or without a building on it – was listed in registers (called: oorspronkelijk aanwijzende tafels). Maps (called: minuutplannen) showed the exact location of the property. With the introduction of the kadaster, every change of ownership, size or use had to be reported to the kadaster agency. This detailed registration still exists today and all the consecutive registers enable us to trace a house or piece of land for about 200 years. Auxiliary maps and on-site sketches by the surveyors show where the land was located and what did or did not change over the years.

It is quite a task to find every registration of a property. Fortunately, the kadaster agency has digitized their collection of registers, maps and sketches. The app Kadasterviewer is a great tool to browse these digitized records. However Kadasterviewer is not accessible for free, a paid subscription is required. This is not the place to explain in detail how to find property in the kadaster registers or how the online tool works. I just want to describe briefly what I found out – with help of Kadasterviewer – about the house my mother used to live in before her marriage. Let me start with a picture of this house, that still exists today.

Bergstraat 3, Loon op Zand: my grandparents’ house
(private collection)

According to the kadaster information, it all started with nothing… Well, there was something as Adriaan van Amelsvoort owned a piece of pasture. He earned his income as an innkeeper and lived in Loon op Zand. This pasture was located to the north of the Kerkstraat (Church Street). It was 3390 m2 large and registered as E-134 (section E, number 134). Adriaan sold the land to Martien van den Hoven, a farmer.

After Martien’s death Johanna, Hendrik, Catharina, Thomas, Hendrikus and Peter van den Hoven inherited the land. One of them, Hendrik van den Hoven, also a farmer, obtained the land. Nothing changed until 1873, when Hendrik van den Hoven sold one part of the land to Joannes Moonen, a shoemaker. This new owner divided his land into two pieces of each 35m2 and he built a house on each plot.

Hendrik van den Hoven kept the remaining part of the land, its size being reduced to 3320 m2. He also changed the use of it, it was no longer used as pasture but as arable land. This remaining piece of land was registered as E-1850. In 1878 he sold two parts of this land. One part of 270 m2 was sold to the aforementioned Joannes Moonen, who used it as a garden for his two houses. The other part was sold to Marinus van Breugel, shoemaker. He used one part of it as garden (190 m2) and he built a house on the other part (110 m2). The house and garden were known as E-1895 and E-1896. Hendrik van den Hoven kept the remaining part of the land, now reduced in size to 2650 m2 and known as E-1894. Marinus van Breugel sold his house and garden to Jacobus van de Graaf, a tanner. For the first time, the address of the house is mentioned; no street name, only a house number: 197.

Kadaster register, entry of Jacobus van de Graaf
(collection: kadasterviewer)

After Jacobus’ death his daughter Huberdina van de Graaf inherited the house and garden. She married Petrus Johannes (Pieter) Jansen and lived at address A-391. After her death her nephew Adrianus Jansen, a shoemaker, and his wife Martha Maria Snoeren became the new owners of the house and garden. For the rest of his life Pieter Jansen had the usufruct of the properties. New address: Bergstraat 3. In 1975 Adrianus Jansen and his wife (my grandparents) decided to sell the property to the current owners. Registration numbers in the kadaster had not changed.

The house where my grandparents lived and where my mother grew up had in all these registers only one registration number: E-1896. In almost 150 years nothing changed.

Let us take a look at some maps. First there is the minuutplan, the map that was drawn in 1828 when the land registration was introduced in Loon op Zand.

Fragment of the minuutplan of section E, with plot no. 134
(collection: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)

When E-134 changed into E-1850, E-1851 and E-1852 the land surveyor made a sketch of the new situation. The sketch shows the ‘old’ plot (the number 134 is penciled in the upper right corner) and the new buildings (in red). It also shows the new numbers (1850, 1851 and 1852). The land surveyor made a second sketch when the situation changed in 1877. The three plots became E-1894, E-1895, E-1896, E-1897, E-1898, E-1899. The sketch shows in red what changed: the new house on E-1896, additions to the houses on E-1898 and E-1899 as well as two newly created gardens (E-1895 and E-1897).

After my grandparents sold their house and garden, the new owners and the neighbors changed boundaries of the plots several times. For privacy reasons I will not mention the name of the current owners, nor will I discuss these changes in detail.

This was just a quick introduction to the Dutch kadaster and the amazing tool Kadasterviewer. If you want to know more about land registration in the Netherlands, please send me a message.