Generation II - Rutger Branch

Thomas Rutgerse van Gorkom married Lysbet Gijsberts de Leeu on 25 February 1617 in the Geertekerk in Utrecht. The Geertekerk (St. Gertrude's Church) still exists and is approximately 600 years old now. As you can see on the picture below it is a charming little church. It was the first church in Utrecht that fell victim to the iconoclasm of August 1566, which was the prelude to the Tachtigjarige Oorlog (The War Of Eighty Years) against the Spanish. There is no christening record of Thomas, neither of his wife Lysbet. However, their names reveal the names of their fathers, as patronymic naming was common in those days. Thomas Rutgerse means "Thomas, son of Rutger", in which "Rutgers" is the so-called patronymic, and Lysbet Gijsberts means "Lysbet, son of Gijsbert". Of course she was a daughter, but in the seventeenth century the same patronymic was used for male and female.

Geertekerk in UtrechtThe first name of Thomas Rutgerse's wife Lysbet is spelled in many ways: Lysbet, Lysbetie, Lysbetgen and Elisabeth. Her family name Gysberts de Leeu suggests a combination of a patronymic and additional clarification. As already indicated, Gysbert was the first name of her father. De Leeu (the lion) is most likely the 'real' family name. De Leeuw is still a common name in Holland and Flanders. The marriage certificate says that Thomas lived in the Koestraat (Cow Street) and Lysbet in the Saelstraat (nowadays Zadelstraat, meaning Saddle Street), streets that still exist. De Koestraat lies next to a large square called Vredenburg, named after a castle that stood there from 1529 till 1577. The square was used for cattle markets, clearly explaining why an adjacent street was named Cow Street.

We don't know very much about Thomas's family, but thanks to the record of an inheritance, more is known about Elisabeth. In 1639 she was the heiress of Deliana Anthonisdochter van Manen, together with two brothers and a half sister, we believe. Her brothers were called Anthonis Gijsberts de Leeu and Aert Gijsberts de Leeu. The sister was named Maijgen Harmanus Versteegh, wife of Camerbeek de Oude. Deceased mother Deliana was the widow of Harmanus Davids Versteeg, who must have been her second husband and who gave his family name to the half sister. The idea that Deliana van Manen is the mother of Elisabeth, is strengthened by the fact that the second daughter of Thomas and Elisabeth was called Deliana as well. The first daughter was called Fijkjen, which could be the name of Thomas's mother.

After a year the first son was born, Rutger son of Thomas, who was baptized in the Jacobikerk, as mentioned on the page about generation III. You may assume that he was the first son as he got the name of his father's father. Why they went to the Geertekerk for their marriage and to the Jacobikerk (Saint Jacob's Church) for the christening will remain a mystery for ever. The Jacobikerk is in the northern part of the old city, where they started to live after they had married. And maybe the Geertekerk was already then considered to be a romantic little church.

Most traces of Thomas and Elisabeth refer to the buying and selling of houses. Already on 4 March 1618 they bought a house in the Lege Jacobijnenstraat (Empty Jacobinsstreet). On 30 June 1620 they sold the house. The sales documents tell that Thomas was a knoopmaker (buttonmaker, that is, buttons for clothes), his former occupation being koperslager (coppersmith). One may assume that they had their own place after 1620 as well, but this is not documented until 1625. On 26 February of that year "Tomas Rutgersz van Gorcum" bought property in the Lange Lauwerstraat. It is a voorhuis (front part of the house) and a achterhuis (separate back part) that had an entrance at the Corte Lauwerstraat around the corner. Thomas paid 350 Guilders for it to the heirs of Joh. van Breuckelen and 100 guilders to the poor. The 350 guilders seem to be a down payment, called plecht which is supposed to be an old Dutch word for plicht (duty, obligation). It is a considerable amount of money actually. One guilder equalled about a day's wages and can be compared to 100 euros (or dollars) nowadays. In that case the 450 guilders had a value comparable to 45.000 euros. The Lange Lauwerstraat (Long Laurelstreet) is rather close to Koestraat and Jacobikerk, lying at a distance of maybe 500 meters. The name of the late mister Van Breuckelen, whose heirs sold the house, is interesting as well. It is the same type of name as Van Gorkom. It means that he or his ancestor came from (van) Breukelen, which is only 15 kilometres to the north, halfway Utrecht and Amsterdam. Breukelen, by the way, is the same name from which the name Brooklyn is derived.

Jacobikerk in 1755It seems that Thomas and Elisabeth lived in the Lange Lauwerstraat for five years, until selling it on 13 February 1630. Son Rutger was nearly twelve years old then, having at least four brothers and sisters already, as was usual in those days. With this expanding family they will have felt the need to move to a bigger place.

Picture on the right is a drawing of the Jacobikerk where all children of Thomas and Elisabeth were baptized.

The next sales document mentions the buy of a huis en hoffstede (house and courtyard) around the corner, at the eastside of the Corte Lauwerstraat (Short Laurelstreet) on 8 June 1639. They clearly paid a lot of money for the property. The selling document mentions a sum of 700 and a sum of 500 guilders. These 1200 guilders would be worth 120.000 euros today. And it looks like the document says that this sum, called plecht as well, represents six percent of the total price, in that case being the nowadays equivalent of some two million. And the buying and selling did not stop after 1639. There were several other sales: on 1 April 1644 (Varkensmarkt), 30 May 1650 (Nieuwe Gracht near the Plompetooren), 20 October 1651 (same location), 23 January 1652 (location unknown), 2 November 1655 (Korte Lauwerstraat) and 26 March 1656 (Nieuwe Gracht near the Plompetooren). All sales concerned property in the northern part of Utrecht, close to where Thomas and Elisabeth started their family in 1618. The sales are so numerous though that one tends to think that Thomas had turned to investments in real estate.

As said, it has not been possible to find the christening records of Thomas and Elisabeth, so we have no clear information about the places and dates of birth or christening. Nevertheless, one can make some educated guesses of course. Elisabeth's place of birth is unknown, but you may assume that her son Herman, born in 1634 (generation III), was the youngest one. If so, she will have been approximately forty years old by that time, meaning that she was born before 1595.

For Thomas it is also difficult to say anything with certainty. In the marriage certificate there is no mentioning of Gorinchem, as you would expect if he had just come from there. At the other hand, in the sales document of 26 February 1625, when he and his wife bought a house in the Lange Lauwerstraat, he is called Tomas Rutgersz van Gorcum. In those days the addition van (from) was often meant litterally, which would mean that this Thomas Rutgerse had come from a place called Gorcum. This assumption is supported by the fact, that in Utrecht there is no trace of his father, nor his mother, as you would expect in case father Rutger had been the one who came from Gorinchem to Utrecht. Therefore it is not unlikely that this Thomas Rutgerse who married Elisabeth De Leeu in 1617 is the man who used the name Van Gorkom for the first time as far as this branch of the family is concerned. This still does not answer the question when he was born though. Let's assume that he was several years older than Elisabeth, then his year of birth lies somewhere near 1590. This might mean that he decided to move from Gorinchem to Utrecht somewhere between 1610 and 1615 or so. There is more speculation on this on the page about generation I.

Rutger Thomasse died at the address Achter het Vleeshuis at the Margrietenhof, on 22 September 1662. Lange Lauwerstraat
Looking right into the Lange Lauwerstraat, standing on the Oude Gracht.

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