The following series was translated from the original Dutch by Willem Rabbelier and
Cor Snabel of the Netherlands. It is published with their permission on The Olive Tree Genealogy pages.
The Isle of Texel
In the days of the WIC Amsterdam was the most important harbour of the
But it was not directly situated at the North Sea, but at the
Zuiderzee (Southern Sea). Nowadays most of it is reclaimed and turned
into land again and what is left of it is an inland sea or lake, called
IJsselmeer. But is those days it was open sea, with tides, in the north
somewhat protected from open sea by a row of islands.
A ship leaving Amsterdam harbour had to sail about 100 km north, ending
up at one of these islands called Texel and through a sea-lane it would
reach the North Sea.
This island Texel was in more than one way crucial for Amsterdam.
First of all it was the place where ships, leaving for any destination,
were supplied with fresh water. The village Oudeschild on Texel was in
those days more important than it is now.
The quality of the water was far better than in Amsterdam; for that
reason many fresh-water wells were dug on the island. In the museum in
Oudeschild a painting shows how the water was pumped up before it was
transported to the harbour. The profits of this water-trade was for the
Orphanage on the island, that’s why the wells were called the
The second important function of Texel was shelter for all those ships.
In the harbour of Texel, behind the island, ships would wait for better
weather conditions; until the storm was over or the wind direction
The famous Dutch admirals Michiel de Ruyter and Maarten Tromp visited
the island a number of times and each of them donated a chandelier to the
little white church in Oudeschild, where those can still be seen.
Those two admirals stayed in the only estate Texel had, called Huize
Brakestein. There they planned their attacks on the English enemy. At
one time during the English War the harbour of Texel was filled with 84
ships with a total of about 20,000 men on board.
All those ships must have been a wonderful sight.
Ships returning home always anchored near Texel. First of all because
many ships had to stop anyway; overloaded ships could not sail in the
shallow waters of the Zuiderzee, so part of their cargo had to be
reloaded in smaller vessels.
Another reason for anchoring at Texel was the fact, the ships did not
only bring merchandise to the homeland, but also strange and dangerous
Before the ship entered the Texel harbour or set sail for Amsterdam,
Hoorn or Enkhuizen the men were checked for disease. If a contagious
disease was discovered on board, the crew had to stay in a
quarantine-center on the island Wieringen near Texel. (now Wieringen is
part of the mainland). If they were really sick, they were transported
to the Gasthuis (hospital) in Den Oever on the same island.
The west part of Wieringen still has an area called “de Quarantaine” and
although the hospital is long gone, the village Den Oever still has a
road called “Gasthuisweg”
Last but not least; the shallow waters between these islands were a
natural protection against hostile attacks over water for the whole
“Zuiderzee”-region, including Amsterdam.
So, researchers, if you find the words “from Texel”, don’t always
presume they lived there, maybe someone asked them: “Where do you come