Sunday, December 6, 2015


Gary and Lara at Latin School in Nijmegen. 
Dr. Michael De Mandeville taught here.

Lara and her father Gary had bicycling, tulip, and ancestral adventures in the Netherlands in late April and early May, 2012. Lara arrived in Amsterdam half-way through Gary’s 9 ½ days stay. Schenck ancestry got most of the attention, with visits to some De Mandeville sites. No time was left for Van Voorhees, Van Ness, or other ancestries. Schenck Van Nydeggen sites visited: Amersfoort, Doesburg, Schenckenshans Fortress site (Germany), Nijmegen, Afferden, Bleijenbeek Castle, site of Gaesdonck monastery, Walbeck Castle, and Muiden.
Gary on bicycle outing near tulip fields

Lara near tulip fields and Keukenhof park.

It should be noted that Schenck Van Nydeggen histories claim descent from the earlier Dutch Schenck Van Toutenburg people. However, Schenck Van Toutenburg histories do not mention a link with Schenck Van Nydeggen. Indeed, Schenck Van Toutenburg reportedly arose in East Prussia, and they lived in Thüringen and Bavaria prior to entry into the current Netherlands, after the Schenck Van Nydeggen were well established there. The events now described follow the Schenck Van Nydeggen version of history. Schenck Van Nydeggen might not even be my ancestry, but let us follow this interesting history anyway.

St. Maarten’s Chapel at Valkhof Castle site, Nijmegen. 
Built for Emperor Frederick Barbarosa (r. 1152-1190), 
overlord of Reynier Schenck, 12th Baron Van Toutenburg. 
Reynier was the father of Christianus Schenck Van Nydeggen.

Charlemagne (Emperor 800-814) particularly liked his palace at Nijmegen. His descendants had a presence at Valkhof Castle here. Clove de Witte, Baron Van Toutenburg, was allegedly the ancestor of the aristocratic Dutch Schencks, both Van Toutenburg and Van Nydeggen. Clove died in 878 fighting Danes. A couple of years later, Vikings wintered at Valkhof, and then burned the palace.  It was rebuilt later. On our trip, Lara and Gary saw two chapels, all that remains of Valkhof. The St. Maarten Chapel ruin is from the time of Emperor Frederick Barbarosa (r. 1152-1190). During Barbarosa’s time lived Reynier Schenck, 12th Baron Van Toutenburg. The split between Toutenburg and Nydeggen lines allegedly occurred with two sons of Reynier, Theodorus and Christianus, respectively. Christianus became cup-bearer to the Count of Jülich, who had a residence at the Nydeggen Castle, southeast of Aachen. Thus, we see the von/van Nydeggen (and several spelling variants) by-name for the cadet line. Christianus Schenck appears in records from 1225, i.e. 787 years prior to 2012. So, around a couple dozen generations or so prior to living Schenck descendants. In that time, several mutations would have occurred at faster-mutating STR (Short Tandem Repeats) yDNA markers. Otherwise, yDNA from existing male-line descendants should be very close to the genetic pattern of Christianus, always allowing for some unknown Non-Paternal Events (e.g. adoption, funny business with passing court jesters, etc.). Descendancy from Christianus:

Person # 119 is the famous Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen, brother of Pieter (b. 1547). A newer summary of Schenck Van Nydeggen:

After a fascinating and fruitful morning in Nijmegen (more on that later), Lara and Gary searched for bike rentals in Afferden, to no avail (closed for the holiday) A couple of great bike rides happened on later days. A castle at Afferden on the Maas/Meuse River predated Bleijenbeek Castle, but no longer exists. Bleijenbeek (Happy Brook) Castle at Afferden was mentioned in 1228, but it was awhile before Bleijenbeek and Schenck Van Nydeggen were clearly linked. Down from Heinrich Schenck Van Nydeggen (d. 1403) and his wife Aelide Van Rayde, the descendancy can be traced 6 generations to Pieter Schenck Van Nydeggen, our purported (but seriously doubted) ancestor. Heinrich and family definitely lived at Bleijenbeek. Aelide brought Walbeck Castle into the Schenck Van Nydeggen family.
Early Bleijenbeek Castle

Middle Bleijenbeek

Later Bleijenbeek
Bleijenbeek Castle in 1738

Bleijenbeek Castle in 1908

Current Bleijenbeek

Bleijenbeek Castle was still in good shape up to World War II, but after being bombed by the RAF, Bleijenbeek is now a bat sanctuary. Lara and Gary could only view it from outside the line of the moat. Information boards there contain representations of the probable former appearances of the castle.

Heinrich’s and Aelide’s grandson Dederich Schenck Van Nydeggen (c. 1424-1487) was a land and cash benefactor of Gaesdonck (Goose Hill) Monastery, now the site of an Augustinian College just over the border into Germany. Lara and Gary saw the church now there before setting off for Walbeck Castle.
Church at site of Gaesdonck Monastery, Germany. 
Dederich Schenck Van Nydeggen (c. 1424-1487)
was a benefactor of this monastery.

Walbeck Castle. In Germany near Dutch border.
Gary at Walbeck Castle, long a holding of 
Schenck Van Nydeggen families.

Walbeck Castle passed to the line Dederich’s brother Johann (d. 1491) and Johann’s descendants down 4 generations or so. Currently, Walbeck Castle is owned by a religious group which uses the castle for youth education and work with traumatized kids. The castle is in the heart of the Walbeck Spargel (asparagus) growing area. Every year, there is a festival involving a Walbeck Spargel Princess and her escort the Spargel Grenadier.  We saw a representation of the Spargel Grenadier.

Dederich married Aleid Van Büren. Their son Derich (d. 1525) had 3 consorts, including our reported ancestor Alheit Cüsters. There arose some question about whether or not there was a proper marriage. This set the stage for a lot of troubles spanning another 3 generations, as others coveted ownership of Bleijenbeek Castle. Bleijenbeek Castle in 1505 saw the wedding between Maria Van Galen and Dirk Schenck Van Nydeggen, son of Dederich and Aleid. Dirk and Maria were the grandparents of Pieter (b. 1547).

Dirk died at Bleijenbeek on May 5, 1530. A couple of months later Dirk’s widow Maria and kids were evicted from the castle and arrested on the orders of Charles II Egmond, Duke of Geldern, Jülich, and Zutphen. Duke Charles was the son of Catherine of Burgundy, whose grave Lara and Gary had viewed in the undercroft of St. Stevens Church at Nijmegen. The widow Maria Schenck Van Nydeggen and family relocated at some point to nearby Goch, now in Germany. Maria’s son Dederich married Anna Van Berlaer in Goch; their kids: Maarten, Pieter (our purported ancestor), Johann, Maria Margaretha, and Maria Magdalena. While Maarten was still a child, his father was still trying to get Bleijenbeek back. Civil courts favored our Schencks, but that counted for naught when the Vatican (1546) and the Emperor (1549) said otherwise. That apparently did not sit well with Maarten, who spent several years fighting to get back Bleijenbeek, not always by peaceful means.

Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen (1543-1589) and his Schenckenshans 
Fortress in Germany. Now ‘a small village with a big history

The actions of Phillip II of Spain against the Dutch provoked the 80 Years Wars of independence, starting in 1568. Maarten and some buddies seized Bleijenbeek Castle in 1576, the year of the “Third Revolt”. Whatever else might be said of Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen, as a soldier he often got results. So, it may not have been a wise move to make him an enemy. The Dutch Estates General gave Maarten’s foe Caspar van der Lippe the OK to attack Maarten at Bleijenbeek. Caspar didn’t have much luck (1577), nor did troops of the Count of Nassau (1579). Maarten became an active ally of the Spanish (what with the Dutch authorities opposing him regarding Bleijenbeek), winning several victories for the Spanish (but getting little reward for his efforts, being bypassed for positions he sought). I don’t know what our alleged ancestor Pieter was doing at this time, but Pieter did surrender himself as hostage in 1582 as part of a complex deal to free Maarten from captivity. Their Cousin Berndt Schenck Van Nydeggen was also a hostage. Maarten had been captured at Xanten by agents of the Governor of Guelders, and Maarten was held at Geldern and Nijmegen (castle dungeon?). Meanwhile, Caspar van der Lippe had switched to the Spanish side and was still after Bleijenbeek.

Sir Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen at the Battle of Amerongen, 1585.

In May 1585, Maarten was persuaded by prominent Dutch persons to give up pursuit of possession of Bleijenbeek in exchange for other properties, commands, titles, and perks. The following month, Maarten was engaged in the Battle of Amerongen; it was a defeat for the Dutch, but Maarten escaped. His subsequent military exploits were many and colorful, including involvement in the Cologne War (as a soldier of fortune, he became a soldier with a fortune, after looting Westphalia). He was knighted by the Earl of Leicester (Robert Dudley), a favorite of English Queen Elizabeth I.
Coat of arms of Sir Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen.

Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen built Schenckenshans Fortress, now in Germany near the Dutch border. The Dutch and their English allies sought to control traffic on the Rhine River. Gary visited Schenckenshans prior to Lara’s arrival in Amsterdam. There are several signs about Maarten at this village atop the fortress site, plus a genuine Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen doll in a glass case (not available in stores).
Sir Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen doll at Schenckenshans.

Timeline of Maarten’s Rhine River fortress, the Key To The Netherlands.
Village at the site of Schenckenshans Fortress.

It might not be sufficiently appreciated that the Dutch helped to avert disaster posed by the 1588 Spanish Armada planned assault on England. Dutch ships kept the ships and troops of the Duke of Parma bottled up in Flemish ports, so that they could not support the Armada. Spanish admirals blamed Parma for the failure to seize England.

1589 drowning of Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen 
while attempting to seize Nijmegen.

Poor Bleijenbeek Castle in 1589. In January, the Spanish hit it hard with troops, artillery (over 1000 cannon balls), and siege works. Was Caspar van der Lippe chuckling? It took Maarten some time to put together a relieving force, but they got there too late to stop the Spanish takeover of Bleijenbeek (June 25).  Later, Caspar tried unsuccessfully to get Bleijenbeek from the Spanish, and later still he finally grabbed Bleijenbeek by marrying off a daughter to a Schenck Van Nydeggen.

St. Anthony's Gate, near where Sir Maarten drowned.

Lara in Nijmegen at St. Anthony's Gate. 

Sir Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen planned a waterborne sneak attack upon the Spanish at Nijmegen (which Maarten had previously seized for the Spanish). The attack was not quite stealthy enough, and failed. Maarten, weighed down by armor, drowned in the Waal River at Nijmegen. Lara and Gary visited St. Anthony’s Gate at Nijmegen, near where the drowning occurred (Aug. 10, 1589). The gate’s alternate name is the Maarten Schenck Gate. Not content with Maarten’s drowning, his opponents had his body beheaded and quartered, hanging bits of Maarten above each city gate. A couple of years later, Prince Maurice of Nassau reportedly arranged a burial for Maarten at St. Stevens Church in Nijmegen.

Lara and Gary went in quest of the burial site of Maarten in the church. Lara came rapidly around a corner, saying to Gary, “Dad, come quick! They’re talking about Maarten Schenck!” (The title of my e-mail from our B & B in Huizen that evening). A Dutch guy was speaking in German to a tour group. This guide pointed to an unlabeled slab (Number 886) as the grave of Maarten. The Germans may have been surprised to have American possible kin of a historical figure materialize at the grave. Later, a second guide (the one who gave us the crypt tour) discounted this as Maarten’s burial site. Yet a third guide ventured that “maybe” that was Maarten’s tombstone. The list of burials had no entry for stone # 886. So, draw your own conclusions.

Maarten’s brother Pieter (our purported ancestor and grandfather of Roelof) at some point obtained the rank of general in the service of the Dutch. Their brother Johann served the Spanish. Martin Schenck, son of Pieter and Johanna Van Scherpenzeel Schenck Van Nydeggen, was reportedly born on August 7, 1584, at Muiden (pronounce “Mouw-den”). The date and place are reported in various histories, but lack documentary support. Lara and Gary had a brief look at the exterior of Muiden Castle.

By 1500, Dutch civil records included land, cemetery, wills, notarial, and court. In 1530 began baptismal, marriage, & grave records (DTB = Doop, Trouw, Begraafboeken).

Martin Schenck (proposed nephew of the famous Maarten) reportedly married Maria Margaretha Boeckhorst at Amersfoort in 1618 (my search of marriage records on microfilm failed to confirm this). Their alleged son Roelof (b. 1619, Amersfoort?) was part of the family who went to America. Evidence of descent from Roelof to ourselves seems solid enough. It is the connection between Pieter and Martin (or even Sir Maarten and Martin) which is in dispute: Accepted by many, but viewed by some as unsupported by some. Maria Margaretha Boeckhorst as mother of Roelof is also problematic. She is also said to be the mother of Johannes Schenck (b. 1656), who is variously called a cousin of Roelof and Jan, or completely unrelated. Johannes and his wife Maria Magdalena de Haes reportedly joined the Dutch Reformed Church in New Amsterdam based upon a certificate from Middelburg, Zeeland Province. While a case can be made for Middelburg origins for Johann, no documentary case can be made for his alleged connection to Limburg or to Schenck Van Nydeggen. See

Warning: Some Schenck trees at list Roelof (b. 1619) as a brother of Johannes (b. 1656), although the two were born 37 years apart. A history by Mrs. Adrian Van Sinderen Schenck indicated that the brothers “…Jan and Roelof were followed to America in 1683 by Johannes Schenck, a cousin, and his young wife Magdelena de Haes.”  There may be some confusion between Roelof’s brother Jan and their purported “cousin” Johannes. Jan and Johannes have different dates, wives, kids, and timelines.  Jan appears on page 9 and 10 of “The Van Voorhees Family in America: The First Six Generations”. Jan’s and Jannetje Stevense Van Voorhees’ 9 kids do not match the kids of Johannes. Incidentally, the Boeckhorst surname is associated with Loo village (near Duiven) southeast of Arnhem, Gelderland.

Gary, still jet-lagged but stoked-up, visited lovely Amersfoort on the first day of the Netherlands trip. This town was the reported birthplace of ancestor Roelof Schenck (b. 1619), marriage place of his parents, and birthplace of Roelof’s sibs Jan and Annetje.

Amersfoort is within Utrecht Province, and the online Utrecht Archives have several records of both Schenck Van Nydeggen and Schenck Van Toutenburg. Just not our particular people. This is not to say that the pertinent records did not at one time exist, nor that they might not still exist elsewhere, as at The Hague (according to my guide at the church in Doesburg, who also said to look for non-published family folders in archives).    

It is reported that 1704 saw the end of Schenck Van Nydeggen at Bleijenbeek Castle, and that this aristocratic line became extinct in 1827. People calling themselves Schenck Van Nydeggen continued to be found in Dutch records through the 1800s. E.g., Antoine Francois Joseph Schenck van Nijdeggen appeared in an 1854 record for Nijmegen. Meanwhile, in America the 1790 and 1800 censuses showed Schenck households to be mostly concentrated in New York State.  Later than that, substantial numbers of non-Dutch Schenck people no doubt cloud the picture.

My Schenck correspondent Pete descends from both Roelof and Jan, and has multiple connections to Van Voorhees, plus Van Der Veer ancestry. Pete’s yDNA would be from Jan. Pete’s ancestry includes 3 persons named Ferdinand Schureman Schenck. Pete has provided me with a considerable amount of interesting and helpful information on the Schenck ancestry.

Our ancestor Roelof’s brother Jan married Jannetje Stevense Van Voorhees. Jannetje’s brother Lucas Stevense Van Voorhees was also our ancestor. Lucas’ son Jan married Mayke Schenck, daughter of Roelof. Got that? Jan’s and Mayke’s son married a Brokaw, and a grandson married a Van Dyke.

From me (Gary) back to Roelof is 10 generations, with our respective birthdates 324 years apart, and an average span of 32.4 years/generation. Autosomal DNA can only detect cousins with a common ancestor back about 5 generations, so back from me to the level of the parents of our Margaret Williamson McCreary.


  1. wow what a nice trip, u made really a lot of nice pictures, i can see that u had a really good time in Holland

  2. In working on my family tree, I traced our family ancestry to "Willem Schenck van Nydeck, I". Four generations later, we have "Willem (985) Schenck van Nydeck, 6de Baron van Toutenburg Schenck". The first names of the Barons from 8th to 11th are unknown. The next known name is "Reynier (1140-1208) Willemsz Schenck van Nydeck, 12th Baron van Toutenburg Hendricksen".

    I would appreciate any help in finding whatever more detailed information can be found. Especially useful would be links to family trees. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for all of this information. I am also a descendent of the Schecks and much of my tree matches what you have blogged about.

  4. My wife's family are also Schencks descending from Roelof, Garretse, John, Gilbert, Denyse, Samuel, Robert and Robert.