Netherlands Naturalization and Citizenship
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In the Netherlands, citizenship was a valuable privilege that included:
- Rights to engage in business in a town.
- Protection under the law.
- Permission to reside in a town without being expelled.
Naturalization is the process of granting citizenship privileges and responsibilities to residents. Citizenship was usually extended by individual towns to certain of their inhabitants and did not pertain to the country as a whole. National citizenship was rare until the formation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815.
Those who received the rights to citizenship were recorded in citizenship books [burgerboeken or poorterboeken]. Although some Dutch citizenship books date from medieval times, most are for later centuries. They include information about the citizen, including name, former residence, occupation and training, number of family members, name of witnesses or sureties, and sometimes birthplaces and relationships. Only males of the middle or upper classes, usually merchants and craftsmen, were granted citizenship.
Citizenship was granted in one of three ways:
- By legitimate birth to a burger.
- By marrying the daughter of a burger.
- By paying a fixed sum of money, usually after residing in the town for a year and a day.
Genealogical use of citizenship books is usually limited to the time period before church records are available. They may also be used to trace migrations not found in other records. The Family History Library has obtained copies of some citizenship books for the Netherlands. These are usually listed under the specific town in the Family History Library Catalog, such as:
NETHERLANDS, GELDERLAND, ARNHEM – NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP
The original citizenship books are usually kept by the town (now municipality) and may be found in municipal archives or municipal halls.
Naturalization records in the United States may be an excellent source for determining the specific town or city where your ancestor was born (especially records after 1906). See United States Naturalization and Citizenship.