Sunday, February 14, 2016


Descendants from our ancestor Roelof Martense Schenck (b. 1619) are many, and there is a vast amount of information found on the Internet and elsewhere about the American part of the line. Roelof Schenck and his siblings Jan and Annetje migrated to the Dutch colonies in America in 1650. Roelof was said to have been born (1619) in Amersfoort, Utrecht Province. There are many people (now and in centuries past) who link our Roelof’s ancestry to the aristocratic line of Schenck Van Nydeggen, despite the lack of evidence (e.g. church records). The case against this assumption: My correspondent Pete Schenck has provided me with pdf images of the April 1937 issue of “The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record”, which forms the basis of this note.

An extract: “It is a difficult and thankless, even an almost hopeless task, to convince the average amateur genealogist that it would he better to give up a long cherished belief in a descent from distinguished, preferably noble, forbears when it has been proven that the pedigree cannot stand close investigation.”  In other genealogical research, I have encountered instances where long-standing and widely believed views are just wrong. And good luck trying to get a substantiated alternate view accepted.
Nydeggen Castle of the Count of J├╝lich. Christianus 
Schenck (born 1220) lived and worked here and became
the first of the Schenck Van Nydeggen cadet line
Marten Schenck, alleged father of our Roelof Martense Schenck, was said to have been married at Amersfoort about 1618 to Maria Margaretha De Boeckhorst. My microfilm search failed to locate a record of this marriage. This microfilm was FHL INTL Film 543971, Dutch Reformed Church records for Amersfoort, 1583-1624. “Fiches collectie van trouwen in de Nederlands Hervormde Kerk: Fiches Trouwen 1583-1624”. The only Schenck marriage on this entire microfilm was for Matijs Christoffel Schenck, 28 February, 1617. The name of his wife is a bit unclear, but she came from nearby Soest. The microfilm listed several men with the given name Roelof, which is reportedly found more in areas associated with Schenck Van Toutenburg, but not in Limburg, ground zero for Schenck Van Nydeggen.

Dutch practices of naming kids varied, but the most common practice was for a first son to be named after the paternal grandfather, a second son to be named after the maternal grandfather, a third son to be named after the father’s paternal grandfather, and so on down through 6 sons and 6 daughters. If Roelof Martense Schenck and first wife Neeltje Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven followed this practice, let us look at what the ancestral names should have been. First son Jan. Second son Martin. Third son Garret. Well, it looks like Roelof and Neeltje varied the pattern a bit. It looks like Garret was named after Neeltje’s father. Martin was presumably named after Roelof’s father. Who was Jan named after? Roelof had a brother Jan and a first son named Jan (died as a child). Who was Jan in Roelof’s ancestry? And why did Roelof have no descendant named Pieter (his alleged grandfather)?  Look at this pattern of descent: Marten Schenck (father of Roelof and Jan) – Jan Martense Schenck – Martin Janse Schenck – John Schenck – Martin Schenck, etc.

Some Jan Janssen Schenck was baptized on November 27, 1645, at Wijk bij Duurstede, which lies just south of Amersfoort, Utrecht Province. The Jan Schenck who was father to this guy would have been a contemporary of our Roelof Martense Schenck. Roelof allegedly lived in Amersfoort from 1630 to 1650.  Wijk bij Duurstede was quite rich in the surname Van Scherpenzeel, and was also associated with Utrecht Catholic Archbishop Fredrik Schenck Van Toutenburg (d. 1580).

It is usually claimed that Roelof’s grandfather was Pieter Schenck Van Nydeggen (b. 1547, Goch, Germany). Pieter reportedly married Johanna Van Scherpenzeel in 1580 in Doesburg, Gelderland. This marriage does not appear to be in the online Gelders archives records. Pieter was said to have died at Doesburg. In April, 2012, I had a private tour of the Martinikerk in Doesburg. My guide was a Doesburg man who researches burials there. A fairly complete 1937 inventory of burials listed no Schenck. My guide said that Judge Van Scherpenzeel was a Doesburg name known to him. This was possibly Johann (the reported father of Johanna Van Scherpenzeel), who was said to have been a judge. Further, Pieter’s sister Maria Margrieta Schenck Van Nijdeggen Voorst appears in 1614 online records in connection with Doesburg. My Doesburg guide suggested that I look further south for the Schenck Van Nydeggen surname. 

In addition to online data, the Gelderland archives at Arnhem may have unpublicized family folders, I was told by my guide at Doesburg. There was no time on this holiday for archives work. Archives at The Hague may also have pertinent information, he said.

A Schenck correspondent who lives in Limburg Province, Netherlands, thinks that our Roelof may have instead descended from the Schenck Van Toutenburg line. Particular given names in Dutch families tend to recur. The name Roelof is unknown among the Schenck Van Nydeggen line, and is indeed unusual in the south of the Netherlands where many Schenck Van Nydeggen lived (especially Limburg Province). The given name Roelof occurs more often in the middle of the Netherlands, in regions where Schenck Van Toutenburg lived. An up-to-date summary of Schenck Van Nydeggen: I encountered the given name Roelof several times on that microfilm of Amersfoort marriages. 

Online Utrecht archives data have multiple references to both Schenck Van Nydeggen and Schenck Van Toutenburg.  Around the time of Roelof’s reported birth at Amersfoort, there were some Schenck and several Scherpenzeel persons on Dutch Reformed Church records (on DVD from at Wijk bij Duurstede, which lies south of Amersfoort and southeast of Utrecht. There are Schenck persons living in that village today. They could descend from either aristocratic line, or other lines altogether. The Bishops of Utrecht held Duurstede Castle including Archbishop Frederik Schenck Van Toutenburg.

Some Berndt Schenck Van Nijdeggen of Emmerijck married Beeligje Meussen in Wijk bij Duurstede on September 20, 1618, the year before our ancestor Roelof was reportedly (where is the evidence for that?) born at nearby Amersfoort. Over 3 decades prior to this wedding, a Berndt Schenck Van Nijdeggen was described as a cousin of Peter/Pieter Schenck Van Nydeggen (b. 1547, Goch). In order to secure Maarten Schenck Van Nydeggen’s release from captivity, hostages were part of a complex deal. Hostages included Maarten’s brother Peter, and cousins Berndt Schenck Van Nijdeggen and “Johann Van Cleet” (Cleef?). This was reported on page 19 of “The Rev. William Schenck: His ancestors and descendants”. I don’t know where that book author got the name of the earlier Berndt Schenck Van Nijdeggen, but I’ll bet that the author was unaware of the existence of the later Berndt Schenck Van Nijdeggen. So, we have a Berndt allegedly a cousin of Pieter, and a Berndt showing up near Amersfoort just prior to the reported birth of Roelof. Interesting.  

Are we to be stuck in limbo forever? I don’t think so, but it will require some enthusiasm for yDNA testing among Schenck-surnamed men of probable Dutch origin in America, in North Limburg (plus the Nijmegen area, rich in the Schenck surname in 1947), and Schenck whose ancestors came from Schenck Van Toutenburg areas (Gelderland, Utrecht, and Overijssel).  It will take several high-resolution STR yDNA samples to be able to triangulate on number of generations to Most Recent Common Ancestors, arrive at meaningful groupings of lineages, and tease out Non-Paternal Events (e.g. adoptions). Deep ancestry would also prove interesting. I don’t mean to imply that yDNA can give us answers to all the particular questions we might have about the ancestry. But, I do think it is possible to prove or disprove genetic kinship among the Dutch Schenck groups, and descendants of the Schenck men who settled in New Netherlands in the 1600s. It is hoped that eventually there will be yDNA profiles available from both of these aristocratic Schenck lines, as well as non-Dutch lines. A few years ago there was no Clan Donald DNA Project; today the project is huge. The same could be done for Schenck.

Surnames distribution mapping at various time periods have shown some degree of stability over time. The book “Surnames, DNA, and Family History” outlines the case for this in England.  Cleves district Germany & Limburg Province Netherlands were two main centers for Schenck Van Nydeggen. Cleves: Goch, Gaesdonck Monastery, Walbeck Castle, Schenckenshans Fortress, Wachtendonk, and Emmerich. Limburg: Afferden, Bleijenbeek Castle, a castle at Venlo, Sevenum, and Castle Hillenraad.

Given the number of centuries during which North Limburg Province and neighboring parts of Germany and Netherlands were ground-zero for Schenck Van Nydeggen, many Schenck-surnamed males now living in this vicinity would seem to stand a good chance of being linked via yDNA to Schenck Van Nydeggen. Currently, New Jersey and Delaware have relatively high concentrations of the Schenck surname. Undoubtedly, many of these persons descend from Dutch Schenck people who appeared in the 1600s in future New York State. There is a New York State DNA project which includes the surname Schenck, but as of mid-2012 the Schenck samples were autosomal DNA, not yDNA. Autosomal DNA can help spot genetic cousins with the Most Recent Common Ancestor only about 5 generations back. We need Schenck-surname high-resolution (67 STR markers or more) yDNA to track the male line back indefinitely in time. The Netherlands Y DNA Project and joint Netherlands yDNA and mtDNA project are in need of Schenck samples. Currently (Winter 2012), Family Tree DNA has 4 Schenck yDNA samples, but the ancestry of the donors is not public.  Two of the 4 samples had a common ancestor several generations ago, and these samples fall into Haplogroup R1b, which is quite common in Western Europe.

The Netherlands Dual DNA Projects yDNA results page  happens to include samples from descendants of my ancestor Adam Brouwer (1620-1692). His haplogroup and subclade: E1b1b1a1b; shorthand is E-V13. See  and

where my ancestors Daniel and Mary Van Voorhees Brewer appear. Family Tree DNA Kit # 55150 came from a distant Brewer cousin of mine, a descendant of Daniel Brewer who married Mary Van Voorhees, Butler Co. Ohio. These were the parents of Tina Brewer Williamson (mother of Margaret Williamson McCreary).

is interesting, particularly regarding a possible Balkans connection.


  1. Hello, My name is Kyra and I've traced my Schenck line up to Roelof. Do you have any current information on his ancestors? Also, a simple google search doesn't provide the Schenck Van Toutenburg family crest. Do you have access to that? My email is and I would love to hear from you cuz'!

    1. Hope you are still interested. I have a great deal of reference material re our ancestor, Roelof Martense Schenck born 1619 Would be glad to share if you are still looking for data. Also I believe this questioning the Van Nydeck linage is incorrect - will explain further if you write.

    2. Brothers Roelof & Jan Schenck were alleged to be Schenck Van Nydeggen cousins of Johannes Schenck (b. 1656). However, the yDNA of descendants of Roelof/Jan is a total mismatch to a descendant of Johannes. If one pattern is genuine Schenck Van Nydeggen, the other cannot be. Or maybe neither is Schenck Van Nydeggen. Whatever the other evidence of a Van Nydeggen connection has to fit with the genetics. A group of yDNA descendants of Roelof/Jan have multiple matches with men from Friesland. Netherlander Willy Peters, a genuine Schenck Van Nydeggen descendant, doubts that our Schenck of America is kin to Schenck Van Nydeggen.

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  3. certainly a huge puzzle with many ill fitting pieces. I don't understand the "alleged" father Martin as it is stated Roelof Martense(son of Marten)(and his brother Jan Martense (son of Marten). Roelof purchased the mill owned by Jan Martense sections of which are in the Brooklyn Museum - example of early Dutch farmhouse. Data I have indicates that Roelof, Jan and their sister Annetje sailed from Amsterdam about March, 1650. Their father, Martin, was reported as sailing with them but no trace after so that can e wrong or he may have died en route.

    There were various Schenck families- various castles one Von Stauffenberg. As we know, Schenck was a title which became a surname.

  4. I live in Nijmegen my mother has direct ancestors Jacobus Schen(c)k (my 4th great grandfather )married to Gerarda Rutten his parents were Peter Schen(c)k married to Jacomina Linders (Lenders). I have many dna matches on ancestry and my heritage via the line of Roelof Martense Schenck. Logically, Peter would be family to Roelof but I have no idea how I should go from Peter to Roelof, I have not been able to get any further with Peter Schenck for years.

  5. Hello. Thank you for your comment. The furthest generational-reach for autosomal DNA is likely someone born not earlier than 1600. I think that the Most Recent Common Ancestor for your Schenk versus descendants of Roelof Martense Schenk (b. 1619) might be Marten Schenck (b. 1584, Doesburg). Perhaps Roelof had a brother (unknown to us) who did not go to America. The parents of your Peter Schenk were reportedly Johann Friedrich Schenk (b. 26 Oct, 1734; m. Maria Catharina Schmidt; d. 8 Mar, 1783). See tree by larkay304; her line of Schenk migrated to America much more recently than my Schenck. At my atDNA kits are A693287 & T203534. My e-mail address is at GEDmatch. Best regards, Gary