Netherlands, 1600s, What was considered age of adulthood?

+6 votes

When was a male considered an adult in the Netherlands about 1656?

I ask because the attached document implies that Cornelius Corneliszn Bogaert was a minor in 1656, but supposedly having children in 1656.

WikiTree profile: Cornelis Corneliszen Bogaert
in Genealogy Help by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Could it not be that the reference date for the "minor orphans" is not 1656 but 1646, when Louw started to be guardian of minor orphans?
I have certainly thought of that option, and believe that it is a possibility. I have wondered if the wording in the original might be a little more help. It doesn't seem to be online.

There are not a lot of firm dates to go by.

The book The Bogart family: Tunis Gysbert Bogaert and his descendants is available at In it is an image of the original Dutch document. To decipher, if at all possible, one would need both to rotate and zoom the image to readable dimensions and have the paleographic skills to transcribe the 17th century Dutch...

It appears that this has been resolved. The Bogart Family Book at indicates that the grandfather requested a new guardian for his grandsons in 1646, not in 1656.
Jan, there are two documents. The one that is pictured on p. 22 is the deed of sale in 1657. The transcription on p. 23 is a 1656 document allowing for the sale.

Ellen, yes the grandfather asked for a new guardian for the minor children in 1646. Louw Theuniszn was assigned as the new guardian. The 1656 document says: to sell on behalf of Louw Theuniszn "as guardian of the minor orphans of Cornelius Theuniszn and Gijsbert Theuniszn, his brothers namely, Cornelius Corneliszn, Gijsbertszn Corneliszn, and Theunis Gijsbetszn Bogaert."  This can be read that the three subjects are still the "minor orphans" but also could be interpreted that at one time Louw was the guardian of the minor orphans.

All of which led to my question about age of majority, wondering if they could still be considered minors but be old enough to have families.

"All of which led to my question about age of majority, wondering if they could still be considered minors but be old enough to have families."

I never look at records that far back (I still have loads of work to do in the 19th century before I go there), but in the 19th century 18 year-olds seem to be considered minors and can definitely marry with the consent of their parents (and contrary to popular belief the youngest marriage I have ever encountered in all my virtual travels in the Netherlands was 16 and that was only once... almost never do I see a bride or groom under the age of 20).

Even into the 1980's the age of majority was 21 though I think that may have changed.

1 Answer

+3 votes
Given that age of consent (12-14)is commonly 2 - 4 years below year of majority (about 16)it isn’t too hard to consider children coming before they officially become adults.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
Age of majority commonly 21 in Europe for centuries. Children before then very common for aristocrats, daddy was paying one way or another. Working classes much less so. You had to have years of training to earn a sufficient income.

This says pre 1811 dependant upon region but often 25.

Thank you all. The link is particularly helpful.

To complicate it a bit, we have different types of adulthood and independence, but the table should be a good indicator.

I did a quick search for a good article on the web on the different ages, but did not find one easily. You gotta trust me on this one.

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