Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The First Known Quackenbush - Aelbert van Quackenbosch

In tracing the origins of a narrative, there's an imperative to commence at the genesis. Our journey embarks in the Netherlands during the 15th century, within the precincts of Leiden. Though the van Quackenbosch family didn't appear numerous within their native city, their patrician essence was firmly established through significant civil appointments and their usage of coat-Armour. During an era when heraldry held paramount importance across Europe, these elements underscored their standing.

The prefix "van," often misunderstood by Americans, does not inherently denote rank as "von" does in German, which consistently implies a title. "Van" lacks a particular significance and is indiscriminately used in Holland by individuals of all stations. Originally, it likely conveyed the meaning of "of" or "from," denoting the territorial derivation of a name. Applying this interpretation, when translating "Quackenbosch" literally as derived from "quakken" (to croak like a frog) and "bosch" (a bush or thicket), the name implies a residence near a wooded area abundant with noisy frogs. It is quite plausible that the name's origin lies in this context, given that family names were not customary in northern Europe until the 15th century. In ancient times, having only a given name and distinguishing individuals by referencing their father's names, trades, or distinctive features of their neighborhood was the practice.

However, on record, the name van Quackenbosch, identical in form to one of the family's progenitors in America, was known in Leiden as early as the 15th century—two centuries before Pieter Quackenbosch left Oegstgeest for New Netherlands. The presence of an identical, unusual name in both countries and the documented fact that Pieter Quackenbosch resided in the Leiden district prior to emigrating strongly suggests a familial connection. Although conclusive documentary evidence is lacking, this assumption serves as a credible basis.

References to the van Quackenbosches of the 15th and 16th centuries can be found in the "Leiden Armorial," an extensive publication issued in 1785. This publication encompasses a list of families associated with city administration, featuring genealogical annotations and plates of 792 coats of arms. From this reputable source, we ascertain that Aelbert van Quackenbosch (I), likely born prior to Columbus's discovery of America, was the progenitor of a family branch. This lineage persisted through six generations, ending with Pieter Gerritzoon van Quackenbosch's family, who passed away in 1640.

In Aelbert van Quackenbosch, the family's lineage extends back to the Burgundian era during Philip's reign (1419-1467). Philip, renowned for founding the Order of the Golden Fleece, symbolizing his immense power and wealth rooted in the Netherlands' weaving industry, established this period of Burgundian rule. Although this period witnessed unparalleled prosperity under Philip of Burgundy, it came at the expense of individual liberties, rendering the state unstable. Charles the Bold succeeded Philip in 1467, ruling with even greater severity until his demise at Nancy ten years later. Charles's death marked a turning point for the people, allowing the French King to seize Burgundy and compelling Mary, Charles's daughter and heir, to seek aid from the Netherlanders. Consequently, native family representatives gained recognition and influence in politics. The people's demands were met with the "het Groot Privilegie" charter, a pivotal document ensuring the supremacy of town charters over the king's demands, restricting office holding to natives, and mandating the use of the Dutch language in public documents.

Another significant event in the Netherlands during Aelbert van Quackenbosch's lifetime was the introduction of the Bible in the people's language in 1477, despite opposition from kings and priests. This event marked the beginning of the decline of the church of Rome's influence and the absolute power of monarchs in Holland.

Regrettably, the historical records provide limited insights into Aelbert van Quackenbosch's personal history, except for the mention of his son Dirk, who was documented as living in 1529 according to the Leiden Armorial. The name Dirk, Derick, or Dirck, now part of names like Frederick and Theoderick, harkens back to the feudalistic days when seven counts who ruled Holland bore that name between 922 and 1299.

Source: Adriana Suydam Quackenbush, "The Quackenbush Family In Holland And America," published by Quackenbush & Co., Paterson, New Jersey, 1909.

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