Image: Family tree showing Hendrik VAN WESSEL - © 2019

van Wesel van den Honert ...

by August de Man

Genealogy Van Wesel and Van den Honert in Dordrecht: Matthijs Balen, Beschrijvinge der stad Dordrecht, 1677. Van den Honert in Ned. Patriciaat 31, 1945.

According to Matthijs Balen the family's origin was German Wesel, but the famiily established itself in Brabant; Thomas Cleyszoon van Wesel came from Brabant to Dordrecht, Balen says, and married Christina van Slingelandt there. His grandson Thomas Rochusz. and some of his brothers and sisters called themselves after a piece of land he had acquired "Van den Hon(a)ert". Maybe this "Honaert" was the place outside Dordrecht where his great-grandson Herman, burgomaster of Dordrecht, had a farm and some land (see below). The coat of arms of the still existing branch of the family is a combination of Van Weseland Van Tol; this last family claimed to be descended from the Earls of Holland, whence the lion of Holland. It might be true.

When in 1786 my ancestor Joan van den Honert was born, he was the only Van den Honert to continue this name, so now everyone in the family is descended from him. There are members in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. The last Van Wesels lived in the end of the 19th century. (But the Gualthérie van Weezel family seems to pretend they come from this family, please contact me!) Of course many women had married men from families still surviving: e.g. through Cornelia van Wesel and her children from three husbands Van Noortwyck, Lupardus and Schenck many people in the U.S. have Van Wesel ancestors.

In the 17th century many rich and important families tried to trace their origins back to ancient noble families. So the Van Wesel family found an old "Van Wesele" family near Antwerp, and declared themselves descended from that family. What they didn't realize was, that Wesele, of which these "ancestors" were the lords, was not German Wesel, but the old name for 's-Gravenwezel near Antwerp. After the northern Netherlands freed themselves from the Habsburg king of Spain, one had to go abroad to get some noble title. Rochus van den Honert got the title of knight from the Queen of Sweden for his diplomatic successes (even my ancestor theology professor Taco Hajo crowned his coat of arms with the Swedish crown, although he was from a different branch). His great-grandson Johan or Jan van den Honert was a member of the Raad van Brabant en Overmaze, governing the parts of Brabant which were now part of our country; Austrian Habsburg king Charles VI, governing the southern parts (now Belgium) made "his friend" a baronet, recognizing his pretentions to belong to the southern Van Wesele family, and Johan acquired the barony of Piétrais les Harlut, Rèves et Ruart near Nivelles/Nijvel, now Belgium. Unfortunately all his children died.

Nothing has really been proven of these pretentions, and I don't believe them to be true. There is only one thing pointing to Antwerp: the father of Thomas Cleyszoon who came to Dordrecht would have been Machteld van Berchem, daughter of Costijn van Berchem (called Machteld van Verge by Balen, but that name doesn't exist). Well, this Costijn has really lived, we know names of his children, but nothing is known about a daughter called Machteld. It is not impossible, though, this name is correct, and Thomas and Cleys may certainly have lived somewhere in Brabant. All members of the family in Dordrecht married people from distinguished families, so Cleys may have married a Van Berchem. But maybe it was made up to make the Wesele connexion more probable. timber in Dordrecht, and behind "De Windhond", one of the sawmills founded by the Van Wesel family.

But all the same, in the Dordrecht archives I have found out many exciting facts about the family. We knew already they had many functions in the town government, but I have found out more. Rochus Thomaszoon van Wesel is mentioned as a timber trader, he married the daughter of a timber trader (Frans Floriszoon van Tol, accepted in the Saint Nicholas guild in 1506), his grandson and my ancestor Dirk Pieterszoon van den Honert had the same profession, and so had his son Frans Rochuszoon van Wesel (also van den Honert and van Tol). His descendants played an important part in the timber trade and industry. The family owned a number of sawmills, one of them signicantly called the "Van Wesele molen". It is also from this branch Cornelia van Wesel came, who went to New York. Many marriages took place with members of other timber families like De Witt, van Haarlem, Rees and De Vries. These families were among the most important in Dordrecht, economy and politics being in the same hands.

The independant Republic of the Netherlands started in Dordrecht (end 16th century). The whole leadership became protestant in 1572. This town had been booming and was anxious to defend its economic position. All the coins of Holland (the most important province of the Netherlands) were struck here and they had the monopoly for selling timber, which was transported from France and especially from Germany, over the river Rhine, with enormous rafts. As the next town on the Rhine with this monopoly was Wesel, there is a good chance the family came from there after all.

Later on Dordrecht we find back the family in The Hage and other places. They were of course well educated and we find relationships with well known cultural figures and scholars. Knight Rochus van den Honert wrote Latin poetry, he and Mr. Herman van den Honert were curators of Leyden University. Dominicus van Wesel married Anna Roemers Visscher, member of the "Muider Kring". Thomas van den Honert, who built another beautiful "Honaert" near Voorburg, had a good relationship with diplomat, scholar and poet Constantijn Huygens, who built his "Hofwijck" opposite the canal.

My ancestors Taco Hajo [van den Honert] and Jo(h)an van den Honert were fulltime scholars. They were both theology professors and had much authority in the official Reformed Church. Professor Joan's grandson, the above mentioned Joan van den Honert born 1786, was a law specialist.

In the near future more about all these and other family members!

Herman van den Honert married Anna de Witt, daughter of Johan de Witt, raadpensionaris of Holland. Herman van den Honert (1645-1730) was secretary and later burgomaster of Dordrecht. Lately I found back his "buitenhuis" near Dordrecht, where he could retire from his busy life in town:

(Taken from on 24 November, 2002 - link no longer relevant.)