The history of the Van den Brande family, with the branches Maaten en Van Etten
Part 1 - the first 200 years: 1250-1450
This blog tells the story of the Van den Brande family from the Netherlands.
Two branches of this family adopted a different name in the 17th century: Maaten and Van Etten.
The family genealogy has been proven by in-depth DNA-research.
This part 1 deals with the origin of the family in the 13th century and the further family history until 1450.
As of the 13th century the Van den Brande family can be found in (the vicinity of) Etten-Leur. Etten-Leur is situated 10 kilometres to the west of the city of Breda, in the south of the Netherlands.
The family probably belonged to the settlers that came from the south – nowadays Belgium - in the second half of the 13th century. These settlers cultivated a large part of Etten-Leur that was still unoccupied at the time. This settlement was regulated by a deed of 1268, in which Hendrik, lord of Breda, granted rights to the men living at Etten.
The first Van den Brande’s
The first - but not the oldest - family member mentioned is a Jan van den Brande (in Latin: Johannes de Brande), who was born somewhere between 1240 and 1260. In a Latin deed dated 8 September 1287 the dean of the monastry of St. Catharinadal transfered to him 45 acres of land at Lies. Lies is an area located immediatley east to the land that was occupied by the aforementioned settlers, some 20 years earlier. The plot of land – that was in 1287 only partly cultivated – formed part of a large donation made by Arnoud van Leuven and his wife Isabella, lord and lady of Breda, to the monastry in 1279.
The oldest Van den Brande is mentioned in a Latin deed dated July 24, 1293, a copy of which is kept at the Abbey of St. Bernard in Belgium. In this deed Hendrik van den Brande, born around 1220-1240, establishes a tribute ( leasehold ) on a plot of land at Sprundel (south of Etten) to the Abbey of St. Bernard. The deed is made before four man, one of which is Hendrik’s son: Arnoldus filius Henrici de Brande, who was born before 1268. In Dutch the son was called Arnoud or Aert van den Brande.
The Jan van den Brande mentioned in the deed of 1287 might have been an older son of Hendrik van den Brande. He probably bought the land from the monastry to start his own farm.
Whether or not Jan en Aert (Arnoud) van den Brande were brothers, in the 200 years that followed, the names Jan and Aert were the dominant names within the family.
In the period 1250-1450 the family belonged to a class of large farmers who enjoyed certain legal privileges attached to their status.
The family lived as other peasants in timber-framed farmhouses with stables where they kept their cattle in the winter.
Family members participated as member in the local council of the settlers land at Etten-Leur. This council had a civil law function (mostly registration of property transactions) and adminstered justice. The council was headed by a sheriff. Around 1450 Cornelis Jans van den Brande was sheriff of Etten and headed the council.
The family maintained strong relations with the cities of Antwerp and Leuven. The council deeds of the city of Antwerp from about 1390 and onwards still exist.
In these deeds the Van den Brande’s from Etten-Leur appear to confirm property transactions. They also appear in the council deeds of Leuven, a Belgian city almost 90 kilometres south of Etten-Leur.
The appearance before the council of Leuven can be explained by the fact that this council had jurisdiction over the Sint-Pietermannen (=the Men of Saint Peter). The Men of Saint Peter had in medieval times several privileges, one of them was that they could only be sued before the council in Leuven, also if they lived in the land of Breda. The Van den Brande’s also had family relations with families such as Van Ypelaer and Heys that belonged to the Men of Sint Peter. Even in 1520 – when the privileges of the Men of Saint Peter were limited in the land of Breda - a Jan van den Brande relied on his privilege that he could only be sued in Leuven.
This link with Leuven and the Men of Saint Peter is interesting. It might very well be that Van den Brande’s came to Etten-Leur when (or shortly before) Arnoud van Leuven married the Lady of Breda in 1268. As mentioned above, Jan van den Brande bought in 1287 the land that this couple donated to the monastry St. Catharinadal. Jan’s family may have been working this land when the monastry acquired it in 1279.
In the Middle Ages, marriages were mostly concluded between people of the same social status. So marriages are relevant to determine this status. Around 1415 Heilwich Jans-daughter van den Brande from Etten-Leur married Franck van Cuijck, lord of Meer, which marriage brought her the title lady. Her sister Soete van den Brande married as a young widow with Peter Arnout Heys, a Man of Sint Peter whose family owned (a large part of) the wood of Lies (=Liesbos).
Around 1450, the family also delivered the priest of Etten – again a family member called Jan van den Brande. Traditionally, only free men could become priests, but this rule may have become outdated at the time.
Whatever their social status entailed, the Van den Brande’s life was similar to that of most large farmers in the Middle Ages. They mainly lived from the proceeds of their land and cattle. They, however, also made a living out of large exploitations of peatland, as will be discussed further below.
The family members around 1300, 1350, 1400 and 1450
Around 1300, 1350, 1400 and 1450 we find the following Van den Brande’s in Etten-Leur (minors excluded):
1. Jan van den Brande, born before 1262.
2. Aert van den Brande, born before 1268.
1. Jan van den Brande, council member of Etten-Leur in 1353.
1. Jan van den Brande, council member of Etten-Leur in 1389.
2. Aert van den Brande, born around 1375.
3. Merten van den Brande, born before 1370.
4. Peter van den Brande, born before 1370.
1. Cornelis Jans van den Brande, council member of Etten-Leur and sheriff, with his sons and daughters.
2. Adriaen Jans van den Brande (brother of 1)
3. Soete Jans van den Brande (probably sister of 1 and 2).
4. Claes Adriaens van den Brande (son of 2)
5. Cornelis Aerts van den Brande, council member of Etten.
6. Jan Aerts van den Brande (brother of 5 and 7) with his son(s) and daughter.
7. Anthonis Aerts van den Brande (brother of 5 and 6), with his sons and daughters.
8. Hendrik Mertens van den Brande, with his son.
9. Dyrck Mertens van den Brande (brother of 8).
Anthonis Aerts van den Brande (7), born around 1415 and son of Aert van den Brande and his wife Gheyle, is the ancestor of the families Van den Brande of Rotterdam, Maaten and Van Etten. The ancestral line of the first two families to Anthonis, has been proven by state of the art DNA-research of the Y-DNA of two male descandants.
The family property in the 14th and 15th century
In the 14th century members of the Van den Brande family owned land in the area allocated to the aforementioned settlers. In the 14th century, two family members – both named Jan - were member of the local council that had jurisdiction over the settlers land.
Around 1400 there were two Van den Brande’s who owned land there: Jan and Aert van den Brande. Their farmhouses were situated on the higher grounds in the east of Etten-Leur, at a place called Attelake.
The grass land and meadows lay at lower grounds in an area called Elshout (north of Attelake) and in an area south of Attelake. In total the descendants of Jan and Aert van den Brande owned more than 75 acres at Attelake and Elshout, around 1450. They also owned land at several other places in Etten-Leur. In addition to that they owned large plots of peatland.
The farms were originally large, but with each generation the land got divided in smaller plots, which lead several family members to move to other locations and/or to other professions . In the 15th century several branches of the family moved to Breda. Aert van den Brande (an ancestor of the family Van den Brande of Rotterdam) moved in 1479 to Bavel, a place 5 kilometres to the east of Breda, were he bought a farm.
The exploitation of peatland
In the south and south-west Etten-Leur borders on very large peatlands. As of the 13th century, monastries from nowadays Belgium started to the exploit these peatlands to produce peat (also called turf). In the late Middle Ages peat was the fuel that kept the large Belgian cities warm.
As of 1400, the peat production in the vicinity of Etten-Leur was mainly in local hands. The farmers of Etten-Leur acquired large stakeholdings in the peatland. Also the Van den Brande’s participated and, especially, Cornelis Jans and Adriaen Jans van den Brande had large stakeholdings.
To transport the peat the farmers had to dig long canals from the peatland to Etten-Leur. These canals were just wide enough for a small boat that could transport the peat to the harbour of Etten-Leur where the peat was transferred to larger boats. The canals had several canal locks to regulate the water level, one of these locks was called the “Aert vanden Branden spuye”.
For hunderds of years the peat was an important business for Etten-Leur and the family Van den Brande.
In the period 1400-1450, the area north of Etten-Leur was several times flooded by the sea. This had severe consequences for the land owned by the Van den Brande’s north of Etten-Leur.
Cornelis Jans van den Brande owned a large plot of land – probably 150 acres - at Zonzeel, approximately 10 kilometres north of Etten-Leur. The land that Cornelis acquired from the lord of Breda land was flooded by the infamous St. Elizabeth flood of 1421. As a result of the flooding, Cornelis stopped paying his tribute to the lord of Breda, who subsequently repossessed the land.
Closer to Etten-Leur, the Van den Brande’s owned land in Elshout. Also this land lay unprotected to the sea. The owners of the land – among which several Van den Brande’ - elected a board consisting of two men – one being Cornelis Jans van den Brande- to manage their joint interest. This board initiated the building of dikes which turned the Elshout into a typical Dutch polder.
To be continued.
Thu, 27 September