I recently started to research my Wiltsie/Wiltse/Wilsey line. One of my ancestors was Catherine Wiltsee (1758-1833).One of my cousins directed me to this website and, in particular, message number 415, dated April 15, 2003.
In that posting a number of issues were raised.Among them was whether Hendrick Martensen was even part of the Wiltsee line.The argument seems to be that since none of the Dutch colonial records use the family name of Wiltsee that he was not a member of our family.
The answer to that question lays in part in message number 214, where the Dutch naming convention was discussed.In short, the Dutch did not use a family name.A son’s last name was his father’s first name with –sen added to it.Thus Hendrick Martensen was the son of someone whose first name was Marten.Hendrick Martensen’s children all had the last name Hendricksen.Neither Hendrick, his father, nor his children used the family name Wiltsee or any other family name.
The idea that you and your father have the same last name, indicating your family, is not universal and was not practiced by the Dutch.Thus, the Dutch colonial records of New Amsterdam and New Netherlands don’t have family names.
The English, of course, use the last name to designate family.When the former Dutch colonies came under control of the English the use of a family name became the standard for naming children.That raises the question of who was the first of our line to use the family name Wiltsee (or one of its infinite variations) and where did that name come from?
I can only speculate that when the Wiltsee name was adopted history was revised to incorporate the Wiltsee family name and make the names conform to English practices.So while Hendrick Martensen probably never used the name Wiltsee, his ancestors (us) have given him that last name posthumously.