Jewish Marriage in Amsterdam 1598-1811
In 1623 the famous Sephardi printer and scholar Manasseh ben Israel, who lived in Amsterdam and was to start the first Hebrew printing house there in 1626, registered under that name his intended marriage to Rachel Abrabanel. He stated that he was 19 years old and that he came originally from La Rochelle. His sister Ester Sueiro appeared as his witness. Ester Sueiro registered her own intended marriage to Jonas Abrabanel on the same day, and Manasseh was her witness. Ester stated that she was 21 years old and came from Lisbon. From other sources, however, it is known that Manasseh ben Israel was born in Madeira in 1604 to marrano parents, and that he was baptised with the name of his maternal grandfather, Manuel Dias Sueiro.
Some months before the entry in the register, Manasseh ben Israel was given power of attorney by his mother, Antonia Sueiro, widow of Gaspar Rodrigues Nunes. Although it seems likely, therefore, that his mother was in Amsterdam at the time, she did not appear as his witness in spite of the requirement that if the father was no longer alive marriage candidates should be assisted by their mother. This goes to show that the rules were not always strictly followed.
The name of (Dias) Sueiro continued in the family for many years. Manasseh ben Israel's name occurs in the witnesses index for the registration of the marriage of his daughter Gracia Sueiro in 1646.
This example shows that brother and sister, and later father and daughter, might use different family names, and how one person's name may give an indication of another's alias.
In addition it shows that the stated place of origin does not always correspond - as it was supposed to - with the place of birth.
The second example concerns an Ashkenazi family and demonstrates how combined consultation of the brides',Groom',and witnesses' indexes may help to solve a genealogical puzzle.
In 1807 Alexander (Levie) Cohen and Roosje Prijs registered their intention to marry. The record names Marianne Vold as the groom's mother. The old index by brides' family names makes it possible to trace Marianne's own marriage. In 1764 she registered as intended bride of Levie Prijs, assisted by her mother Barbara Ameland. To Barbara Ameland's marriage the old index did not provide a clue. The new index of family names of witnesses, however, has a Barbara Vold appearing as the mother of Meijer Andries Ameland, who registered in 1760. Thus enabled to return to the old index of brides' and groom' names we discover in 1723 the marriage of Andries Emanuel van Ameland and Barbara Benjamin, both of Amsterdam. Barbara thus occurs under her own family name of Vold as well as under that of her deceased husband, Ameland. As Barbara Benjamin she reappears in the index of witnesses' patronymics as the mother of Emanuel Andries, who in 1744 registers his intention to marry Aaltje Salomon, and who as the widower of Halletje Salomon reappears in 1763 to marry Geertrui van Collem. On the occasion of this second marriage he gives his name as Emanuel Andries Ameland.
These two examples illustrate how the combined use of brides' and groom' indexes with the witnesses index may help quickly to establish, by means of the stated relationship, where and by what name further relatives may be found.