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Family Names - "van Waterschoot"


According to "Rietstap's Armorial General & Dictionary of Names", though with the styling of ”vanWaterschoot this name did originate in The Netherlands (Holland), the very ancient origin of the name was Germanic, more specifically Saxon. Styled as "Waterschoot(e)" and not "van Waterschoot", the name was included on the rolls of the Teutonic Knights of Pomerania in the early eleventh century.

It is pointed out by Rietstap, however, that as the Teutonic Knights were descended of the Saxons, then it must be assumed that "Waterschoot" ("van Waterschoot") was also of this ancient Germanic source.  During the period 400ad to 500ad, these Nordic warriors from Scleswig, more often called Danes, Vikings, or Norseman (Norse) than Saxons, made plundering raids on most countries of the then known world.  Consequently, their influence on the origins of names in Europe, and only to a slightly lesser degree in Britain, was considerable and widespread.

As "Waterschoot", the name was of note in the field of Military Enterprise in West Prussia in the thirteenth century.

As "van Waterschoot", it was of note in The Netherlands (Holland) in the fourteenth century and in the Nordic countries of Denmark and Norway in the fifteenth century.

ORIGIN OF NAME – Based On Alternate Information:

Mr Henri De Greef, genealogist at Brussels, says about the name; “The first part of the name is clear. The second part SCHOOT comes from the Germanic word SKAUTA which means a higher part of the land surrounded by water in a swampy environment”.

In the area of Schelde and the Durme Were many of these “schoten”. Most of the now known “Waterschoten” were living originally in this area. The village of Zele was the centre of this area [it features prominently in the family ‘trees’] .

There also exists two villages named Waterschoot at Kemseke and at Belsele (East Flanders).

So, “Waterschoot” means originally an inhabitant of a higher part of land in a swampy environment.

In the “Dictionary of Family Names in Belguim and Northern France” written by Dr Frans Debrabandere, published by Gemeentekrediet in 1993, is written:

Waterschoot, (van); van Waeterschoodt, Waeterschoot: PIN in Belsele (OV); 1362 te Waterschote; in Eksaarde (OV): 1349 in den Waterscoet (GYSS. 1956,96). 1374 Boudin van Waterscoete, Kemzeke (FLW 298); 1443 Maertin van Waterscoote ... van Belsene int Land van Waes (PARM 428) Reference: magazine Vlaamse Stam 1978, 601-4.


The family did not remain in the Belguim region. They spread to Zeeuws Vlaanderen (southern most part of the Province of Zeeland); the Province of Brabant; Limburg; Holland; the Dutch East Indies (modern day Indonesia); Sri Lanka; the United States of America; Canada; Mexico; and Australia.


When I was but a child, my father died on New Year’s Day of 1974 when I is 14 yrs old, I was aware of the concept that the derivation of the extension “schoot” originated from “schout”. This was very much a “hand-me-down” piece of verbal advice without much to support the notion. However, in recent years, and perchance, I came into contact with Jerry van Waterschoot (in Brussels, Belguim) who in one of our communications wrote:

“As far as the roots of our family are concerned, we first looked into them when we were contacted by a Paul van Waterschoodt from London when I was around the age of 15, so in the “sixties”. He said he descended from the family van Waterschoot van der Gracht. We found a lot of material, for example the coat of arms which you and I mentioned (with "martlets" or "merletten" on it, but I did not know how to translate this when I wrote you...). However, I always wondered whether this coat of arms was not of the van der Gracht family instead of the van Waterschoot family, because I have seen a coat of arms like the one we are talking about, belonging to the van der Gracht family. Maybe the conclusion is that you and me are, sorry, “bastards”, from the original van Waterschoot van der Gracht family...

Anyway, my cousin Patrick perhaps knows more about it, but the family "legend" says - and I think it is right - that the van Waterschoot family is of Dutch origin, and that the "Belgian branch" was only established around the 1920s when my grandfather came to Antwerp. (So this is exactly the opposite as what is claimed on the www.brabant.cehello website, or perhaps the Waterschoot’s went from Flanders to Holland, and came back to Flanders under the name van Waterschoot).

Furthermore, I think that the origins of the name "waterschoot" do not originate in "schoot", meaning a higher part of the land, but from "schout" (familiar to scout in English), being a kind of judge or police officer. Centuries ago in the Low Countries you had a "landschout" and a "waterschout" (the civil servant being responsible for maintaining the law on the sea and rivers; actually, in Antwerp there still is the "Waterschoutsambt" or the office of the waterscout, he is responsible for the river Scheldt which crosses the Belgian-Dutch border not far from Antwerp).”

The comments from Jerry about the 1920s movement into Belguim is intriguing. According to records I was provided by a cousin (mother’s side) suggest that “van Waterschoot” were in Belguim at a much earlier time. Of course,confusing all of this even more, is the fact that what we consider as modern Europe today, was only more recently ‘engineered’. Even today, the countries of Europe continue to change – the establishment of “The Union of Slovenia & Montenegro” – “Yugoslavia” no longer ‘existing’.

Furthermore, in Jerry’s communication, he mentions “The Low Countries” (Les Pays Bas), which even today are the grouping of The Netherlands, Belguim and Luxembourg.

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Compiled by:  John van Waterschoot  Version: 4.0  Created: 02-January-2011
John van Waterschoot (Canberra, Australia) 2002-2017