The origin of the Kingma family name

The oldest members of the Kingma family were given various names. Pieter Jellezoon Kingum (born around 1480) was also known as Pieter Jelles toe Kingum. His son Jelle Pieterzoon also called himself Kingum, as did his brothers. Later, Kingma and the variations Kinguma, Kingema and Van Kingma became more common.

Many place names in Friesland and surrounding areas end in -(h)um, which seems to be related to suffixes such as -hiem (Frisian), -heem (Dutch), -heim (German) and home and ham (English). The suffix generally indicates a farmyard, farmhouse and the surrounding land.

It is often preceded by an indication of a place or a personal name. King(h)um, from which our surname is derived, may be a contraction of the place name kink, a sharp bend in the road, with this suffix -hum which results in Kinghum. On the other hand, it may also be the heem, or yard, owned by a certain Kinge (an old-Frisian first name).

The King(h)um sate (farm) first appears in historical documents in 1413, but there is no doubt that the name itself is much older. By then, the region had been inhabited for a very long time, possibly as early as several centuries B.C.

Many people are curious about their "roots". The search usually starts with parents and grandparents. Tracing your ancestry back to French times, around 1810, is often not that difficult, as you can find a lot of information in civil registries, municipal population registries and the national archive. The name registry of 1811/1812, which followed a survey in which everyone had to pick a surname, is also particularly valuable. Before then, many people did not have surnames, although some families did have a long history of using a family name. Naturally, this would also be the name they registered as a surname. The Kingma name was registered in as many as fifteen Frisian municipalities.

As you delve deeper, however, things become more complicated, as you will have to rely on church baptism, wedding and burial records. Unfortunately, the records of some church congregations go back further than others. The Frisian Academy has published a guide for genealogical research, which is an excellent tool for lineage research.

In addition to descendants of ancestor Jelle’s male line, there are many Kingmas who descend from the female line of the first Kingmas. Before the French era, it was not unusual for persons without a family name to adopt the name used by their mother or grandmother. The descendants of Hylke Janszoon Kingma, for instance, took their name from the female Kingma line, known as the ‘Makkumer’ branch, which gave rise to Kingmas Bank.

Over the centuries, the latter branch, as well as others, have spread beyond Friesland and can now be found throughout the Netherlands and the rest of the world. This is also known as the Frisian diaspora.

Virtually all patrilineal and matrilineal Kingmas are descendants of ancestor Jelle from Zweins. We have to say ‘virtually’ here, because the Kingma van Birdaard family of skippers forms an exception. Antje Aedes was married to Jan Johannes Kingma, who came from "our" family. Her cousin, Gosse Jans - who was not part of the Kingma family - also adopted the name Kingma, because he liked the sound of it, in 1812. This gave rise to a new Kingma family not related to our ‘ancestor’ Jelle and found mainly in Birdaard and the Dokkum area.