The Beijen/Beyen Family Site
by Laurens Beijen
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Coats of Arms

"Do we have a coat of arms?" That is one of the most frequently asked questions to people who are investigating their family tree. It comes immediately after the absolutely leading question: "How many years have you gone back already?"
For the Beijen/Beyen families the answer to the first question is: In the IJsselstein family there is surely a coat of arms; in the Nieuwkapelle, Breyell and Hengelo families there is, as far as we know, no coat of arms.

What are coats of arms?

The use of coats of arms dates back from the Middle Ages. During battles noblemen wore an identifying mark so that their allies could recognize them in their suit of armour and under their helmet. It became a tradition that families used the same symbol or combination of symbols generation after generation. Later on those symbols were also used for the seals on official documents (charters or deeds), not only by noblemen, but also by other prominent families.

The coats of arms of families that belong to the Dutch nobility are laid down by Royal Decree. Other coats of arms, whether they have been used for centuries or are designed recently, can be included on certain conditions in a register of the Central Bureau of Genealogy in The Hague or in other registers. However, such registrations have no formal meaning.

Coats of arms are related to a family and not to a family name. Not all people with the same family name belong to the same family. If you know that in former days people with your family name used a certain coat of arms, you may in fact only use that coat of arms if you descend from that people.

The pair of deer's antlers in the IJsselstein family's coat of arms

Below on the left hand side the oldest known example of the coat of arms of the IJsselstein family is shown. It is the seal of the IJsselstein alderman Dirck Jansz. who was discussed on the page about the first Beijen's in IJsselstein. This seal is attached to a charter of bailiff and aldermen of IJsselstein of February 2, 1530. On the seal a pair of deer's antlers can be identified.
On the right hand side is a picture of a seal from 1617 of Dirck Jansz. Beijen, who was discussed on the page about Dirck Jansz. Beijen. He must have been a grandson of Dirck Jansz. from 1530. The seal shows the same pair of deer's antlers. Here it is a part of a complete coat of arms together with a mantle and a helmet.

  

The two seals below show the same coat of arms.
On the left hand side is a picture of a seal from 1664 of Dirck Gijsbertsz. Beijen, who was discussed on the page about Dirck Gijsbertsz. Beijen and his wives. He was a grandson of Dirck Jansz. Beijen from 1617.
On the right hand side is a picture of a seal from 1779 of Johan Franco Beijen II, who was mentioned in the section about the Johan Franco branch. He was a great-grandson of Dirck Gijsbertsz. Beijen.
Consequently there are seven generations, 250 years, between the first and the fourth seal.

  

The two seals below come from the seals collection of the Central Bureau for Genealogy (CBG) in The Hague. The picture on the left was already shown on this site, the picture on the right was added in January 2014.
The CBG possess about 50,000 seals. Many of these have been collected by the Dutch genealogist D.G. van Epen (1868-1930). Unfortunately this man was not always very careful. He noted the family name that was connected to the seal, but did not note the place where he found it and the dating of the seal.
These seals, which has been designated as "Beyen" or "Beijen", have a close resemblance with the second, third and fourth seals above. Accordingly, we can assume that they come from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. A more precise dating is difficult to give. Contrary to the seals above, these seals don't have a lettering on the edge.

  

The Drenthe Archives in Assen possess some seals collections that were brought together by private collectors. The largest of these is the Janssen/Van Deventer collection of the Drenthe Heraldic Board that has about 10,000 seals.
One of these seals shows the deer's antlers of the Beijen/Beyen coat of arms. The unknown collector has cut the seal from a letter or envelope and stuck it on a piece of cardboard, on which he has written the name "Beyen".
According to an expert of the Drenthe Archives the seal dates back to the 18th or 19th century.
  

The coat of arms with the pair of deer's antlers is not only found on seals. In the Jacobikerk (St James's Church) in Utrecht there was an arms board in memory of Godfried van der Schuer, who died in 1687 and was a descendant of Dirck Jansz. Beijen. The actual arms board disappeared in the time of the Batavian Republic (1795-1806), but a drawing from the beginning of the eighteenth century has survived. On the left is a picture of a part of the drawing: the coat of arms of the IJsselstein Beijen family. The antlers were black, the background was yellow.

There is also an even older paper reproduction of the coat of arms with the deer antlers. In manuscript by Aernout van Buchel from the early seventeenth century an image of the coat of arms of Adriana Beijen can be found. She was a sister of Dirck Jansz. Beijen and the widow of first Jacob van Telshout and afterwards Geerlof Cluijt van Voornbroeck. She died in 1623 in Utrecht and she was buried in IJsselstein. In the mixed coat of arms the deer antlers are in the top right corner.

In 1919 Nederland's Patriciaat, a Dutch genealogical yearbook, published an overview of the Johan Franco branch of the IJsselstein familie Beijen/Beyen. We do not know who has written the article, that was not free of errors. It included a picture of the coat of arms in black and white. The picture is shown on the left.
The description in the yearbook is: "in silver a red pair of deer's antlers". This is one of the many mistakes of the article. From other sources we know that the horns were black and the background golden.

In 1999 the late Wim van Beijma Esq., who was a descendant of the Johan Franco branch, donated me a small arms picture from 1824. It refers to the IJsselstein doctor and burgomaster Johan Franco Beijen III (1773-1842). Through the years the edges of the picture were damaged, and the paint of the shield (that probably had a golden color) disappeared for the most part. Below an image of the middle part of the picture is shown.    In June 2010 Mr Henk 't Jong of the Central Bureau for Genealogy designed a contemporary stylized version of the coat of arms of the IJsselstein family, inspired by the shape of the antlers that are visible on the old seals.
Of course this time the right colors were used: gold and black. Until recently a drawing from 2005 was shown below that was wrongly based on the silver and red colors that were mentioned in the article in Nederland's Patriciaat.

Rietstap's Arms Book

In the second half of the nineteenth century the Dutchman J.B. Rietstap published a heraldic standard book: the "Armorial Général". In the second edition (1884-1887) he described in French about 100.000 coats of arms from the Netherlands and other countries. In later years pictures of the coats of arms that were described by Rietstap were published (called "Planches").

Rietstap recorded two coats of arms of a Beyen family (this could also mean Beijen, Rietstap always replaced ij by y) shown in the matching pictures on the left.
The pair of deer's antlers of the IJsselstein family is easily recognizable.
The coat of arms on the right shows (according to Rietstap's description) a white walking ferret on a blue background at the top and a green reversed branch of a strawberry plant with three red fruits on a white background at the bottom. Unfortunately it is unknown where Rietstap saw this coat of arms. Because of the social position of the extinct Dordrecht family it seems most probable that this coat of arms belonged to that family. A small additional argument for this assumption: the animal that was seen by Rietstap as a ferret could be meant as a weasel (in Dutch "wezel"), and the ancestor of the Dordrecht family lived for many years in the German city of Wesel.


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