Family Names - "van der Gracht"
Earliest information obtained to date suggests the name was in use in the 1090s and
earlier yes, over 900 years ago. The
van der Gracht family tree lists an Eggewaard van der Gracht marrying
an unknown person and providing a son Idesbaldes (Isabaldes) van der Gracht in
1090 in the town or village of Steenkerke.
Idesbaldes became a monk and
was highly respected, today his coffin being located in the Potterkierk
in the City of Brugges. This is in the modern province of West
Vlaanderen in Belguim. He was canonised in the late 1800s.
have possessed a surname at that early time would suggest someone of
importance. An examination of the early
van der Gracht
family tree offers
some possible clues as early family members were Knights (the French
word Chevalier often being used). Other indications arise as the use of surnames only seemed to
gain prevelance in the 1600s, with patronymics in use prior to
So then, the name. It is likely derived from a place or mansion.
An early reference to a mansion was located at
(which is actually devoted to the van der Meeren family but contains
some points of interest).
This family name appears in documents as early as 1247.
What is also of interest is names being associated with locations and
also the use of aliases, or the term of aka which means also known
as. The Castle and Estate van
der Meeren still exist to this day. The castles
(previously) offered an extensive review of the centuries from the Eleventh to
the Twenty-First, but now just details and illustrations on the castle itself.
A mansion ter Gracht is the oldest reference and first appears against a
Jan III : van der Meeren, Knight who died in Sterrebeek before
1313. He possessed enormous estates in
the town of Sterrebeek and Wezenbeek, and also the mansions ter
Gracht and ter Borcht in the towns of Neerijse and Zaventem.
He was married in 1310 to Ida, daughter of Hendrick van den Berghe.
A few generations later, another reference appears to ter Gracht against
a Goossen : van der Meeren, aka van der Borch who inherited
half the mansion ter Gracht and purchased the other half from his nephews.
He was a freeman of the City of Brussells in 1444.
The next reference though is of possibly more interest in Jan : van der Meeren, aka van
der Gracht, married Barbara Mommaerts aka de Cupere in 1506.
This is the first major reference to multiple surnames in which van der Gracht
this case though, we become associated with the town of Sterrebeek.
It is in Flanders in the province of Flemish Brabant. Sterrebeek
is eleven kilometres east of the Brussels Grand Palace, five minutes
from the Zaventam International Airport, fourteen kilometres from Mechelen,
and twelve kilomtres from the fast train station of Brussels-Midi.
This website then offers a conclusion upon how their name was derived:
Ψ in the early middle ages, there was an estate /
mansion called ter Gracht
Ψ descendants of that were called ... van ter
Gracht ... meaning: those from the estate ter Gracht
Ψ over time, this became van der Gracht.
The site then concludes by noting the towns mentioned still exist today.
Further, and quite possible due to the hand
writing styles of the time as well as the variations in language, that the Steenkerke
mentioned above could have later been Sterrebeek.
Furthmore, earlier references mention Stertbeke.
There is sufficient simlarity when typed, and in those days, it was hand
written on less than ideal paper with ink.
Whilst not an indication of the origin of the name van der Gracht, a
reference to the family name was identified with the Domain of Vremde.
Of additional interest is its links to
abbeys of the early days as Idesbaldes (son of Eggewaard) became
a monk and later abbot, as well as brigning prosperity to that particular
abbey. In the 1800s, Idesbaldes
was canonized (refer Family Members of Interest link).
Vremde was likely founded by
the Abbey of St. Baafs at Ghent.
There exists a donation record from Emperor Hendrik II, dated
1003, in which Frimethe (oldest known spelling of Vremde) was
restituted to the abbey. To the Jurisdiction
of Vremde also belonged an important part of the former Parish of
Millegem, now part of Ranst.
It was after the French Revolution that the parish and town limits were
fixed to their present day location.
An important occassion in
the history of Vremde is the donation in 1236 by Gilles Berthout,
Lord of Berlaar to the Abbot of Villers, of several pieces of land at Vremde
and its surroundings in order to build an abbey as the central place to operate
a farming business. Whereas the monks
soon abandoned the project and moved to Hemiksem, where an abbet St.-Bernards-on-Schelt
was founded, an important part of the land and farms of Vremde stayed in
the possession of the abbey.
The Domain of Vremde
has successively been in the possession of the families:
and van der Gracht.
In 1660, it became a barony.
In 1977, the Domain of
Vremde was merged with the Domain of Boechout (oldest reference
dates to 974ad, when it was referred to as Boucholt).
Additional information can be obtained at:
Intriguingly, references to the family name van der Gracht de Rommersvael appear in the 1600s.
Back to Family Names
To van Waterschoot
To van Waterschoot van der Gracht
John van Waterschoot
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ...
John van Waterschoot
(Canberra, Australia) 2002-2017