Methodology Spotlight

Stillborn son of Teunis Nijkamp

Today, we are looking at the death record of a stillborn son of Teunis Nijkamp (1857).

death record of a stillborn son of Teunis Nijkamp
Civil registration (Markelo, Overijssel, Netherlands), death records 1857, record no. 37, stillborn child of Teunis Nijkamp (14 May 1857); “Netherlands, Overijssel Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1960,” database with images, FamilySearch ( viewed 12 May 2020), digital film 4572546, scan 414 of 466.


On the 14th of May 1857 appeared before us, Willem Götte, civil registrar of the municipality of Markelo: Teunis Nijkamp, 40 years old, and Reint Willem Azeler, 35 years old, farmers, both living in Markelo, the first as the father and the second as a neighbor. They reported a dead child of the male sexe, to whom Jenneke Potmans, 39 years old, without occupation, wife of the aforesaid Teunis Nijkamp, living in Marklo, gave birth on the 13th of this month at 4.00pm in a house in Markelo.
Of which declaration we made this record, that was read and then signed by us and both informants.
Signatures of: T. Nijkamp, R.W. Azeler and W. Götte.

photo of farm Groot Kevelham in Almelo
Farm Groot Kevelham in Markelo (photo credits: Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed)


Dutch law said for a long time that only a death record could mention a child that died before the registration of its birth. This means that stillborn children and children that were declared lifeless are in death records. Not in birth records. If the father had the opportunity to report the birth before the child died, both records name the child.

It is important to understand the difference between a stillborn child and a lifeless child. All stillborn children were lifeless. Not all children that were declared lifeless, were also stillborn. Some of them lived a short while, for example few hours, but they died before the father reported the birth.

Lifeless children did not receive a name. Many records mention the sexe, but some only say “child”. It is then unclear whether it was a boy or a girl.

Today’s record shows the registration of a lifeless child of Teunis Nijkamp. Technically we do not know whether the child was a stillborn child. It could have lived for a couple of hours. This record mentions the sexe of the child, not a name.

The laws for recording stillborn children were for a long time very painful for parents. Not only did they lose a child, there was not even a proper record for the child, that did not get a name. This changed a few years ago. Parents can now have a civil record. A record with a name, even when the child was stillborn or lived only for a short time. It is even possible to add the child to the population administration.

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