Unusual real name: Claesgie

Painting by Pieter Claesz

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 created 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. It was just Claes with a feminine suffix.

In fact, the name of Abel and Claesgie’s daughter, Claesjen, follows the same Claes-plus-suffix formula.

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