Methodology Spotlight

Going once, going twice… married!

When Freerk Cuperij married in 1772, he had no idea that his hometown Dokkum would later be famous for an ice skating event that led to many newspaper articles, books and even a movie. Elfstedentocht.

Dutch Reformed Church (Dokkum, Friesland, Netherlands), marriages 1772-1811, page 2, Freerk Cuperij and IJfke Andringa, 19 April 1772; “Netherlands, Friesland Province, Church Records, 1543-1911,” digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 September 2020), image 489 of 790.


Freerk Cuperij, potter, of Dokkum, and IJfke Andringa, of Tietjerk, had three marriage proclamations:
– 1st on 19 April 1772
– 2nd on 26th
– 3rd on 3 May
They married in the Church of God on the same day, after they had showed proof that the announcement also took place in Tietjerk on three consecutive Sundays, without hindrance.


This is a standard entry for (a) the marriage proclamations and (b) the actual marriage. There is no date for the marriage intentions as often seen in records like this. Regularly, the marriage intentions were recorded on a Saturday and followed by the first announcement the day after.

It was custom to announce the intended marriage in the church service on three consecutive Sundays. When possible, the actual marriage took place on the third Sunday.

It was not unusual for several weddings to take place on the same Sunday. In this case Sibren Benedictus and Aafke Jacobs Bontekoe had their proclamations and marriage on exactly the same days.

What is not always customary, but very helpful, is that entry mentions the bridegroom’s profession. Freerk was a potter. Sibren was a basket maker.

View of the corner of Zijl and Vlasstraat in Dokkum, 1944 (photo credits: Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Amersfoort, document 24.146)


The best-known event in Dokkum’s history is the death of Saint Boniface, a missionary who was killed in this Frisian town in 754. A legend says that a well sprang up at the place of his assault.

Dokkum is officially a city since 1298. Together with Leeuwarden, Sneek, IJlst, Sloten, Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Workum, Bolsward, Harlingen and Franeker, it provides the setting for the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour). This famous tour skating event of almost 200 kilometres or 120 miles, attracts more than 16,000 participants from all over county. Because the weather conditions must be good (including severe frost), this skating tour has only been organized 15 times since 1900. Most recently in 1997. [source]

One of the most severe tours was that of 1963. The story became a film: De Hel van ’63. Elfstedentocht is part of Dutch history, part of Dutch culture.