Methodology Spotlight

Descendant of Nicolaas Lakeman reads his book

Two days ago we saw a post online about a book that Nicolaas Lakeman wrote in 1653. The author believed she was a descendant of this doctor, who lived in Amsterdam. We were curious and asked her for more details.

Members of the Collegium Medicum in Amsterdam, 1683; painting by Adriaen Backer, 1683 (collection: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

“I was tracing back my paternal grandmother’s line and was curious about the surname ‘Lakeman’ in the Netherlands. It sounded very English so I kept following it back to see where it came from.”

She then found three generations of doctors. One of them was Nicolaas Lakeman (spellings vary) who lived in Amsterdam in the 17th century. He wrote two books: Disputatio de visu (1653) and Disputatio medica inauguralis (1656).

A search on the internet leads to interesting results, but the best find is that one of the publications is available on Google books as a free e-book! This book was written in 1653. For descendants of doctor Lakeman it is mind-blowing to see that a book from that long ago, written by their ancestor, is so easy to find.

Genealogical details

We looked into the Lakeman family and found out that Nicolaas (Claes) Lakeman was baptized in Amsterdam (Nieuwe Kerk, New Church) on 2 November 1632. His father was Bonifacius (Bonefaes) Lakeman, a surgeon who lived and worked in Amsterdam. He and his wife Judith Claes had eight children, of whom Claes was the eldest.

In 1663 Nicolaes Laeckeman, then “medicijne doctor” in Amsterdam, married Sara Waecker (or Wakers) in Leiden. Their marriage intentions were also recorded in Amsterdam.

Some online trees say that Gerrit Lakeman, born in Alphen aan den Rijn in 1656 was Nicolaas’ son. He would be the third generation that practiced a medical profession. We did not find any proof for the link between Nicolaas and Gerrit yet. He could be the son of Nicolaas and Sara, but in that case he must have been born about ten years later than 1656.


Unfortunately the author of the original post about Lakeman’s book found out that online family trees had deceived her. In the end she was not a descendant of doctor Lakeman at all. Too bad for her!

Online family trees can be very misleading. Many of them provide incorrect details – like names, dates, places – or connect children to the wrong parents. We recommend everybody to use online trees as a hint, a suggestion for further research. Do not copy the information you find in online trees into your own family tree, without looking at the original sources. As our contact said: “Now I know that I should just look into the original sources for everything.”

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