The interior of the Dutch Reformed church of Buitenpost.
Methodology Spotlight

Church membership record of Gaucke Gauckes

Today, we are looking at the church membership record of Gaucke Gauckes (1670).

church membership list with Gaucke Gauckes in Buitenpost, Friesland
Dutch Reformed Church (Buitenpost and Lutjepost, Friesland, Netherlands), church membership list 1645-1726, page 38 (pencilled); “Zoeken,” database with images, AlleFriezen ( : viewed 5 May 2020), search results for Gaucke Gauckes.


Anno 1670, den 22en Aprillis, sijn tot het getall der Gemeente gecoomen, deese navolgende
– Benne Douwes: obiit den 16en Januarij 1682
– Gaucke Gauckes, overleden den 4 Novembris 1672
– Jan Taekes,
– Fockien Meinsma, overleeden den 2en Majus 1670
– Minke Jacobs, huisvrouw van Jan Hylles, vertrokken met de wooninge na ‘t Wijzel op Meij 1670


In the year 1670, on 22 April, were added to the amount [of people] of the church, the following [persons]:
– Benne Douwes, who died on 16 January 1682
– Gaucke Gauckes, who died on 4 November 1672
– Jan Taekes
– Fockien Meinsma, who died on 2 May 1670
– Minke Jacobs, wife of Jan Hylles, who relocated to Twijzel in May 1670

drawing of the Dutch Reformed church of Buitenpost, 1723
Dutch Reformed church of Buitenpost, 1723 (photo credits: BinnenBuitenpost)


Churches used a variety of lists of church members. The Catholic church had (and has) lists of those who received the Eucharist for the first time (First Communion) or those who received the sacrament of Confirmation. These lists are often not found in church books, but in different archives or collections.
Dutch Reformed church books often contain membership lists. The minister formed these lists – lidmatenlijsten – and often contain two types of information.

  • A list of all church members on a specific date. Ministers would make a list like this typically when they started their ministry in a parish.
  • Minutes of church councils with an overview of those who were admitted to the church community, either with attestation or by confession. Church members who came from a different parish would show an attestation, a document that stated they were well-respected members of the previous parish. New church members had to confess their believes in front of the church community.

Great details

Membership lists are a great replacement for censuses that did not exist in the Netherlands before 1811. The lists say who was living in that place at that time. When husband and wife are mentioned together, this links the two of them. Of course, the list shows only the residents who belonged to that specific church. Many lists show comments to individual entries, for example about the death or relocation of a parishioner.

When we study this particular list, we see that Gaucke Gauckes became a member of the Dutch Reformed church of Buitenpost on 22 April 1670, exactly 350 years ago. Unfortunately, he died 2.5 years later.

The same church book mentions his wife, on the previous page. Her name was Geltie Yppes and she became a church member on 28 January 1670. The comment next to her name says she relocated to Finkum. Although there is no date or year mentioned, it is possible that she left Buitenpost after the death of her husband.

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