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Popularity of the Baby Name Willem

Number of Babies Named Willem

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Willem

Baby Name Story: Tesselschade

The other day, I visited the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam website to admire Still Life with a Gilt Cup by Willem Claeszoon Heda. (Here’s more on the name Claeszoon.) A few clicks later, I was learning about römer drinking glasses (there’s one in the painting). And that led me to a Dutch glass engraver Maria Tesselschade Visccher (b. 1594).

There’s an interesting story behind Tesselschade. Although, as with Return Meigs, so many versions of the story exist that it’s hard to know which to believe.

The name Tesselschade is made up of two parts: Tessel, which refers to the Dutch island of Texel, and schade, Dutch for “damage.” Sources agree that Tesselschade’s father, Roemer, was a Dutch merchant whose ships had been caught in a storm near Texel sometime before her birth. But sources disagree on when the storm happened, how many ships sank, and whether or not Roemer had been aboard one of them and rescued.

And Rijksmuseum Amsterdam adds another little twist to the story:

According to tradition, he gave his daughter the rather unusual name of Tesselschade (i.e., Texel damage), because his ships had recently foundered in a storm off the coast of Texel.

Tradition? I wonder what tradition they’re talking about. Were many other 16th-century Dutch babies named for shipping accidents? (I’m going to email the museum and ask about this. If I get a response, I’ll let you know.)

Tesselschade ended up having three daughters: Taddea, Maria Tesselschade, and an unnamed third. She outlived all of them, sadly. I don’t believe the name was given to any other descendants.

Sources:

  • Carroll, Jane Louise and Alison G. Stewart. Saints, Sinners, and Sisters. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2003.
  • “Lights of Dutch Literature.” The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science and Art. May 1854: 134-141.
  • Schama, Simon. The Embarrassment of Riches. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987.
  • Sneller, A. Agnes and Olga van Marion. De Gedichten van Tesselschade Roemers. Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren, 1994.

Name of the Day – Claesgie

While I was reading about Dutch sailor Abel Tasman the other day for the explorer namestorm, I discovered that the name of Abel’s first wife was Claesgie Meyndrix.

Claesgie? Now that’s a name I’d never seen before.

But it wasn’t totally unfamiliar. It reminded me of Claesz, which I knew from the Dutch painters Willem Claesz. Heda and Pieter Claesz (both of whom have painted some amazing still lifes).

Claesz is a short form of Claeszoon, which is a patronymic (i.e. it refers to bearer’s father). The first part, Claes, is a form of Claus. Claus comes from Nicholas, which can be traced back to two Greek words: nike, “victory,” and laos, “poeple.” The second part of Claeszoon, zoon, is Dutch for “son.”

And once I remembered all that, Claesgie didn’t seem so intimidating anymore. It was just Claes with a feminine suffix. (In fact, the name of Abel and Claesgie’s daughter, Claesjen, follows the same Claes+suffix formula.)