In Duizend Vreezen

When researching the line “Van der Heijden”, the furthest found ancestor was “Barend Jacob Heijde”. At least, that is what he is called when he married Gerharda Vloeth in 1776. The marriage register of Rotterdam states that Barend Jacob Heijde comes from "Cappeln in 't Graafschap Teklenburg" and Gerharda Vloeth from "Wezel". In both cases it seems to be places in today's Germany. However, no baptismal certificates have yet been traced.

Marriage of Barend Jacob Heijde and Gerharda Vloeth

Marriage of Barend Jacob Heijde and Gerharda Vloeth 17761

At the time of marriage, Barend Jacob Heijde lives "op de Schiedamschen Dijk" and Gerharda Vloeth "op de Groote Markt". Later we find them both at the address of Gerharda Vloeth, for example at the baptism of their second son Willem Heijden in 1779.

Baptism Willem Heijde, Sunday October 3, 17792

House "In Duizend Vreezen"

Further research into the home address of Gerharda Vloeth provided interesting information. The book "Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje" of 1890 contains a article named HET HUIS ”IN DUIZEND VREEZEN”3. Halfway through page 131 you can read the following:

"Successively, the house now passed into the hands of the following owners: May 5, 1704 to Cornelis van Veen, July 3, 1710 to Jacobus van der Bel, August 2, 1769 to Sibilla Arntsen, by divorce to Grada Vloeth, September 10, 1777 according to will to Jacob van der Heyden and October 21, 1809 according to death to Hendrik Adrianus van der Heyden."

This article therefore shows that Gerharda Vloeth once became the owner of a special (and well-known) house in Rotterdam. The old notarial archive in the Rotterdam City Archives has shown that Gerharda Vloeth was a niece of Sibilla Arntsen (or Arentsen as she is mentioned in the burial register). Based on the text "by seperation from Grada Vloeth", the preliminary conclusion is that Sibilla Arntsen left the house to Gerharda Vloeth.

The funeral record states that Sibilla Arentsen was an elderly young daughter, meaning she was not married but was of age. Sibilla was 80 years old when she died, according to the same registry. Via Gerharda Vloeth, the house passed to her husband and upon his death the house passed to their son Hendrik Adrianus van der Heijden. Hendrik Adrianus (Barent) van der Heijden is the brother of Willem Barend van der Heijden, my ancestor.

Drawing House "In Duizend Vreezen"

Unfortunately the house "In Duizend Vreezen" was demolished in 1895. So it is no longer possible to view the house in real life. Had the house not been demolished, the chance that the house would have remained after the bombing of 1940 would also have been very small. The house was, as said, on the Grote Markt. You can find the location of the house on the website "Rotterdam in Kaart".

Spaniards in Rotterdam

The article in "Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje" from 1890 suggests that the house got its name from an event during the storming of Rotterdam by the Spaniards on April 9, 1572.

On April 9, 1572, Spanish Soldiers of Bossu invaded Rotterdam and murdered a large number of civilians. In order to escape these murderous Spaniards, a number of Rotterdammers hid in the house that would later become known as "In Duizend Vreezen". Before hiding in the basement of the house, they first slaughtered a goat and let the animal's blood run down the threshold and sidewalk. Of course in the hope that the Spanish soldiers would think that others had already been here. To commemorate the fear they had endured, the house was given the sign "In Duizend Vreezen". While it is certainly a nice story, the general opinion is that this statement is incorrect.

In 2001 Louis Mathijsen published an extensive article in "Rotterdams Jaarboekje 2001' about the tile panel that was placed in the facade of the house “In Duizend Vreezen”. In the article “Een allegorie verklaard? Het tegeltableau ‘In Duijsent Vreesen’ nader beschouwd” ("An allegory explained? A closer look at the tile panel "In Duijsent Vreesen")4 Mathijsen elaborates on what the meaning could be of the depiction on the tile panel.

Tile panel ‘In Duijsent Vreesen’,
collection Museum Rotterdam


1 Marriage certificate FamilySearch: Netherlands, Zuid-Holland, Church Records, 1367-1916 – Nederlands Hervormd – Rotterdam – Trouwen 1763-1780
2 Baptismal certificate FamilySearch: Netherlands, Zuid-Holland, Church Records, 1367-1916 – Nederlands Hervormd – Rotterdam – Dopen 1762-1804
3Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje 1890, HET HUIS “IN DUIZEND VREEZEN”, page 129-132
4Rotterdams Jaarboekje 2011, Een allegorie verklaard? Het tegeltableau ‘In Duijsent Vreesen’ nader beschouwd, Louis Mathijsen, page 183-195


  • Featured image: De Grotemarkt op marktdag met het huisje “In Duizend Vreezen”, door Franciscus Lodewijk van Gulik (Maastricht 1841 – Rotterdam 1899), collection Museum Rotterdam, item 10869
  • Tile tablet ‘In Duijsent Vreesen’, collection Museum Rotterdam, item 5003