Van Dorens in Holland and
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
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.
18th century drawing
Today. After restoration of the ruins. The original castle
suffered devasting damage from Allied bombing.
Now a city park.
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 Genealogy.com:
Also on the Family History site you'll find there are links to some
articles about the Van Doren family in New Jersey..
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you success and a pleasant stay in the Netherlands this summer.