Van Dorens in Holland and Europe

1088 - 1599

The van Doorn family established itself in the Southern areas of Holland and even down into Belgium which was once called the Brabant Province of the Netherlands.  Indeed, Belgium was part of the Netherlands as recently as 1830.

The largest published work on our family comes from Abraham Van Doren Honeyman's extensive genealogical work published in 1909 by the Princeton University Press; entitled "The Van Doorn Family in Holland and America 1088 - 1908"   It contains information obtained by Honeyman when he visited Holland in 1907, and in particular the town of Doorn in Utrecht Province which lies 30 miles south of Amsterdam.  The city of Utrect itself has a population of 288,000.  10 miles southeast is the town of Doorn, where Honeyman went to find evidence of the family birthplace and to link Pieter van Doorn and a European line.   When Honeyman visited the town in 1907, there were about 1,200 inhabitants.  Today, I believe it is about the same.   Honeyman found that the town of Doorn is not the birthplace of the family, nor even the center where the once noble family held court.  Doorn however,  was named for our family that had once held great influence over this area from the time of the middle ages.

In Doorn, there is a large mansion dating back to the 1500's and because of it's location is called the House of Doorn or "Huis Doorn".    Although there has been no documentation as to the van Doorn family ever owning the estate, it does offer some interesting history.  After WW I, maybe because of it's elegance, the Kaiser of Germany in his defeat, chose this place for his exile from Germany.  I believe he remained there until he died in 1941.  There is a mausoleum on the property where the Kaiser is buried.  At his funeral he requested that no swastikas be used, however this was not followed.  The Nazi's had conquered Holland by that time and took over the house as one of its headquarters.  Perhaps more interesting, Actress Audrey Hepburn's mother was Dutch nobility, the Baroness Ella van Heemstra, who grew up in this house.  The house offers tours open to the public, so it might be worth your time if you are in the area.  Their website is as follows:

The van Doorn family can trace its' European roots back at least to Stephen van Doorn, who was appointed by Henry IV to the rank of High Sheriff of Antwerp in 1076, which was then part of the Netherlands.

The family name really comes from the region around the town of Deurne, Belgium which is located just to the southwest of Antwerp.  The name has been recorded in a variety of ways according to dilect and location.  Deurne, Doern, Doirne, Doorne, Doornen and Doorn.  A heralded family from this place would be "from" Deurne, or "van" Deurne, van Doirne, and van Doorn.  Sir Stephen of Deurne  or "van Doorn" is the earliest recorded name I have been able to find.  Doirn is found south into France, Deurne in Northern Belgium, Doornen near the Holland-German border and Doorn near Utrech.  In Europe the name is almost always preceded with a "van" which means "of".. It is for the most part not capitalized.  In Germany, the same thing is accomplished by the word "von", and just south of Belgium in France it is the custom for noble families to be distinguished by the letters "de" or "De", such as the Marquis de Lafayette or "The Marquis from Lafayette".

About the same time that Stephen van Doorn was awarded the lands around Deurne, Belgium, a Sir Godfrey de Bouillon, was appointed Duke of Lorraine and given lands in Northern France, Normandy and Belgium.  In 1096 Godfrey was given the assignment by the Pope to lead an army of 90,000 men against Turks and Arabs who held Jerusalem in the First Crusade.  It is believed that Stephen van Doorn accompanied Godfrey, who in 1099 captured Jerusalem.  Sir Godfrey was offered the honor of being crowned King of Jerusalem, and stayed on to govern the newly occupied lands.  Stephen van Doorn it is believed, returned to Belgium and the Netherlands with some of the spoils of the conquest.  Sir Godfrey died in Jerusalem in 1100, it is believed from leprosy, and is buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem.

The title of High Sheriff for Stephen van Doorn was an important and powerful position that included Ducheys and Dukeships insuring a hereditary title for the van Doorns for the next 350 years in the least.  We know that the Lord High Sheriff's jurisdiction covered North Brabant (Belgium) and Southern Holland.  It is recorded that on March 1, 1335,   the Lord High Sheriff, Govert van Doorn was given the rule over the southeastern Dutch Provinces and the North Belgium provences.  He built a castle at Deurne, Belgium.  This castle was quite immpressive in it's beginning, but suffered several burnings and plunderings through the centuries, particularly in the 1500's during the Great Reformation.  Martin Luther's rebellion against the Catholic church was centered in Antwerp, Belgium.  Spanish forces sent by the Pope tried to put down the reformation.  The castle at Deurne was burned.  Parts of it were rebuilt, but it was the center of a major allied assault on Germans who were using it as a command center in WWII.  I believe only a few walls are still there, although amid some very nice park space.  The Castle went out of van Doorn family hands after 1599.

I believe that a few years ago a member of a wealthy european van Doorn family had bought it with intent on some restoration.  A man by the name of Hubert van Doorn saw the need for cars and trucks after WWII, and started making them in Holland and Belgium in the 1950's.  The venture was profitable and the firm was called van Doorn Automotive Fabrique, or DAF for short.  You may see DAF buses and trucks driving around the area.  If you Google;  Hub van Doorn and link to DAF to read an interesting Henry Ford story for the van doorn family.

Castle at Deurne:    

Photo late 1800's                                    18th century drawing

Today.  After restoration of the ruins.  The original castle suffered devasting damage from Allied bombing.
Now a city park.

Castle at Doornenberg:



In the 1400's a Baron of Doorn built a stronghold  Medieval Castle now in the town of Doornenberg in the Netherlands. Doornenberg is located about  30 miles southeast from Doorn, and is at the strategic location of where the river Waal meets the river Rijn (Rhine).  This is where the Rhine enters the Netherlands from Germany.  The castle is very representative of medieval castle architecture and much of it has been restored.  This castle does not have a web page, but I have some pictures of it on my own web pages listed below in the Van Doren History Folder.

The castle at Doornenberg is the best I can do for a van Doorn Camelot!  There are a lot of van Doorns (or people rom Deurne) in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.  You can see how the family in rftttttttttt`['1America has grown just from Pieter van Doorn's arrival in 1660.  With all the variations of the last name, I believe you will find quite a number of "relatives".    As for Pieter van Doorn, Honeyman did track down church records in the town of Gravesend, a small coastal town about 50 miles Southwest of Amsterdam.  Pieter may not have been royalty, but he did have considerable funds when he ventured to Neiw Amsterdam (New York).   Honeyman never made a link to a specific line.  In 1640, Holland was just entering some degree of peace after the Eighty Years War over the reformation.  Merchants from Belgium were moving north to Amsterdam which offered protestant protection.  Amsterdam had been a small town up until the early 1600's but was now begining to grow.  We don't know if Pieter moved up from Belgium or had been a resident of the Amsterdam area for some time.  Pieter did not come over poor, since his children and grandchildren in America were able to buy some extensive farms on Long Island and New Jersey.

Here are some links to my Pages:

  Van Doren History Page:

  Van Doren History Folder:

                      1.  Pictures of the Castle Keep at Doornenberg.
                      2.  Pictures of Niew Amsterdam (New York) from the early 1600's

 Our Van Doren Family Tree at


Also on the Family History site you'll find there are links to some articles about the Van Doren family in New Jersey..

Hello, Tom,

My husband and I are planning a month long stay in The Netherlands this coming summer (June 27-July 24).  We live in San Jose, California - USA and we will be doing a house trade with a Dutch family whose home is located in Drenth (Roden) ... not far from Groningen.

We are interested, among other things, in locating the ancestral home of my Van Doren family heritage.  This may prove difficult, however, since I do not know from which part of Holland they originated, before immigrating to America.  I have heard, however, there is a Van Doren Castle somewhere in Holland.  In fact, a now deceased uncle once visited the castle.  It was described, however, more like a nice, older home (or small estate) than what most of us picture as an imposing, large castle.

If it is possible for you to help me locate the Van Doren Castle, it would be very much appreciated.  I was guided to you by the following message from Sheila Gazaleh:

Best wishes,

Shirley Van Doren Rye
Good morning, Shirley,

In reply to your enquiry, there is Huis Doorn, in Doorn (Utrecht Province), which was taken over by the Kaiser Wilhelm when he fled Germany in the first WWW ... and which is fully covered in the new edition of my book, "Here's Holland" ... and the van Doorn Castle at Doornenberg.  For the latter, you might take a look at van Doren Historical Collection for more family background information and contact Tom Van Doren on

Wishing you success and a pleasant stay in the Netherlands this summer.

Sheila Gazaleh