An introduction to the Dutch Bresser families of the Veluwe

Around 1600 saw the first mention of Bresser families living in the villages of Voorst, Empe, Wilp, Twello and other nearby settlements in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It may have been due to the Reformation and the 80-year war with Spain at the time, that earlier church records could not be found. Or perhaps the church of Voorst , as so many other churches, had not begun keeping birth, death and marriage records until the 17th century. It is therefore not known how much earlier the Bressers had arrived in this district and from where they came. Neither are there any traces connecting these Bressers with those living in Arnhem, Utrecht, Groningen and further west and south in The Netherlands.

It was not long before I had to include the Bresser families from the bigger towns of Apeldoorn, Zutphen and Deventer, as those were closely related to their country cousins. Charting the Bressers became a more complex issue thanks to the interaction with several other families through marriage; families which re-appeared at various times in the Bresser family tree. Each generation of Bressers in this chart was given an individual number, starting with Peter Bresser (generation 23), who lived from approximately 1590 until roughly 1629, down to Mitchell William Michael Bresser (my grandson) of generation 11. Although the chart covers various branches of the family, all numbers stem from the direct-line Bressers in each generation.

Before the French occupation of the Netherlands, surnames as such did not exist; patronymics were used instead. Thus the son of Hendrik Bresser would be called Jan Hendriks and his son would be Peter Jansen, the son of Jan. Thus one generation of Bressers might be followed by a generation of Hendriks, which often proved confusing. By the Imperial degree of Napoleon in 1811 and later by the Royal Command in 1815, people were told to decide on a proper family name. At the same time civil registrations replaced the church registers as a record of births, deaths and marriages. (“Genealogy in the Netherlands” WAZAMAR website).

The Institute for Dutch Language, Dialects and Culture in the Netherlands suggested that the name of Bresser, particularly in the provinces of Gelderland and Holland, indicated an occupation, in this case : (beer) brewer. There are in this chart at least 3 Bressers who combined the trade of brewer with the occupation of deacon in the Dutch reformed church. In Britain it is thought that the name Bresser, with all its variations, relates to the trade of a brass worker. It stems from the old English word “broesian”, which meant “to cast in brass”. (“Descendants of James Brazier”, house of names.com).

One, almost connected, branch of the family, changed the name Bresser to Brester in around the middle of the 18th century. This was common in the past, due to the tendency of changing consonants in the spoken language. This branch is set separately from the main Bresser chart, although there are many connections through marriage. I am grateful to Hedda Kalshoven-Brester and Pem Kalshoven for providing the information on the Bresters. I also gratefully acknowledge the help from numerous other websites and family trees, too many to mention here, in particular those of Genealogie online. I have noted them wherever I could.

The access to WieWasWie and earlier to Genlias anchored the many family members to the family tree. Wherever the abbreviations bc, dc and mc (birth, death and marriage certificates) are mentioned, WWW provided the anchor points. The micro films, made available by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Australia allowed me to have a detailed look at the many church registers of Voorst. Of great help were also the publications of the association “Vereniging van Veluwse Geslachten”, members of which so skilfully interpreted those often-hard-to-read registers.

All information on this website is available to anyone researching her or his family history.
Any enquiries are welcome, as is additional information.

NOTE: this is a work in progress , I still have another 3500+ entries to update and re-index