Fathers and Sons: Lancelot Edition

Dutch naming traditions can be both your greatest friend and foe when researching historic populations. As couples named their children after their parents, this often meant several nephews and nieces shared the same first names. It also means that if you somehow end up with a father that shares his first name with his son, this can create extremely long lines of people who are extremely difficult to tell apart. After all, oldest sons (who often took the name of the paternal grandfather) were also more likely to stay in the family business, creating the same types of records and transactions as their father did.

Lancelot, Lancelot, Lancelot …

In my research I once discovered a long line of same-named fathers and sons, who were all named… Lancelot. The first Lancelot in this line is Lancelot Frans van Hulsel, who, in genealogical terms, is a brick wall. I have little information on him – and don’t even know where he was born. The information available on Lancelot does however show that he must have been a well-regarded citizen of the city of Breda. When William the Silent arrived in Breda to celebrate the marriage to his new wife Anna of Saxony on 4 October 1561 (Gregorian), Lancelot had his part: as the city trumpeter and watchman of Breda, he and the trumpeter of Antwerp played when they entered the city. Both were riding on horses, clothed in red and white, with little banners showing the coat of arms of Breda. In 1567 and 1568 he is mentioned in another record as a trumpeter again, which means he kept serving as a trumpeter even though political circumstances changed a year earlier. For reasons unknown, Lancelot named one of his sons Lancelot as well.

The city of Breda, where most of this story will take place (Blaeu, 1652). Image by University of Utrecht.

Just like his father, second Lancelot was a trumpeter and watchman. As a watchman, he had to wait on top of the Grote Kerk in Breda, warning people with his trumpet if he saw any fires. This was necessary, because city fires in 1490 and 1534 had destroyed large parts of the city of Breda in earlier years. You have to remember: most roofs in the time were made out of straw and reeds! In 1591, when prince Maurits entered the city, he was lighting the lanterns on the tower. When it comes to Lancelot’s private life I know he was married to Pauline Lambrecht Janssen. Not only did the couple have a son named Lancelot (1577), but they also a son named Hercules (1583) and a son named Jacobus (1585). Especially the name Hercules shows us that the couple must have been aware of classical mythology. This second Lancelot died in 1602.

This third Lancelot was born in 1577, when baptisms were not yet recorded in Breda. He was born right at the start of a lot of challenging times for Breda: the city has been occupied and liberated several times during the late 16th and early 17th century! Somewhere during this ongoing war Lancelot became the watchman of Breda, just like his father was. This Lancelot married to Adriaentien Jaspers in 1638 at the age of 61. Together they had four children: Lancelot (1637), Pauline (1640), Jesper (1642) and Jasperijn (1645). In 1656 he became a member of the Dutch reformed church. After he provided his last will in 1659 he died in 1663 from gout.


The tower of the Grote Kerk in Breda, the torenwachters lived in the part with the little towers to the side. Image from Wikipedia.

Lancelot, Lancelot, Lancelot …

A year later he stops working as a torenwachter, and his job is transferred to his son.

The fourth Lancelot was baptised on the 20th of December 1637. One year after he had inherited his fathers’ job and become watchman in 1657, he married to Engeltje Joossen van Erp. The couple had eight children: Pauwelijntje (1658), Adriana (1660), Aldegonde (1663), Aldegonde (1665), Anna (1666), Aldegonde (1668), Maria (1670) and Lancelot (1671) – of which seven girls in a row! Sadly this Lancelot did not get very old – he died before 1677, not even 40 years old.

The fifth Lancelot was baptised on 11 December 1671 in Breda. Because his father died when he was very young, he wasn’t able to inherit the job his father was working in. His youth must not have been very stable – his first stepfather Antonis Palm died before 1684, his second stepfather Hubert van Sonneveld was a soldier. At the age of 27 Lancelot married his wife Cornelia Bastiaensen van den Elshout, with whom he had six children: Bastiaen (1701), Lancelot (1703), Cornelis (1707), Jan (died 1730) Antonia (1711) and Adriaen (1713). Several records mention that Lancelot became a master tailor. Still mentioned alive in 1743, he died on 7 April 1744 in Breda.

The marriage of Lancelot van Hulsel and Cornelia Bastiaensen van den Elshout in Breda

The sixth Lancelot was baptised on 17 May 1703 in Breda. He was the brother of my ancestor Antonetta. Unlike his direct Lancestors, he did not decide to stay in Breda. Lancelot decided to move to Leiden, a city in Holland, instead. Leiden was not a surprising choice, given that it was one of the major textile cities and he was a tailor’s assistant – trying to follow in his fathers tracks. When he first married in 1733 to Johanna Klinkspaer, he was still described as an tailors’ assistant – yet he managed to fulfill his goal! Lancelot became a citizen of Leiden in 1735, and later on in his life he would become a master tailor. With his first wife Lancelot had two children: Lancelot (1734) and Lancelot (1736). Only the last Lancelot survived, and his wife died young – leaving him, a widower, behind with a young son. Lancelot soon remarried to Hester de Langen in 1740. Together they had thirteen more children: Ari (1741), Ari (1742), Cornelia (1743), Cornelis (1744), Jacobus (1746), Aaltje (1747), Aegje (1749), Marijtje (1751), Henrik Paulus (1752), Jacobus (1753), Hendrik (1755), Marijtje (1756) and Anna Maria Allegonda (1760). The sixth Lancelot died in January 1785 in Leiden.


The seventh Lancelot was baptised on the 23rd of September 1736 in Leiden. Instead of becoming a tailor, Lancelot decided to work for the Dutch East India Company. He moved to the Dutch East Indies in 1776 on the 7-month maiden voyage of the Zeepaard. He died on 7 April 1782 in Batavia, not leaving behind a wife or any children. With his death this long line of Lancelots came to an end.

The top image was created by G. Lanting for Wikipedia.

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