24 June 2021

Notes on the Over de Linden family

That Cornelis Over de Linden was custodian of the manuscript in 1867 when he first sought help getting it translated is undisputed. The earlier history of the manuscript is less certain and will be discussed below.

Ms. ownership*
Jan Andriesz Over Lende
? -1794?
Andries Over de Linden
Hendrik Reuvers, married

    to Aafje Over de Linden

Rijkent Kofman, married

    to Cornelia Reuvers

Cornelis Over de Linden I
Leendert F. Over de Linden
Cornelis Over de Linden IV

 - - - - - - -

Friesland Library/ Tresoar

since 1938
*ownership before 1848 uncertain — some would say: before 1867

If Cornelis received the manuscript in 1848, as he maintained and as several witnesses testified, it will have come from his grandfather Andries Over de Linden, carpenter and shipbuilder. If the latter had intended to have his grandson inherit it, one would expect an explaining letter of instruction to accompany it. Another possibility is that Andries instructed his son in law Hendrik Reuvers who was at least acquainted with the family since 1818 and who may have later instructed his son in law Rijkent Kofman. There are facts suggesting that Cornelis was not handed over the manuscript voluntarily in 1848 as he claimed, but rather that that there had been discord related to the handover. Cornelis may have been convinced that he was the rightful heir, passing on the Over de Linden surname, but he had not been properly instructed about the manuscript and its content.

etching for new year wish 1789
by printshop Over de Linden

Andries was the second surviving son of Jan Over Lende, who started a bookshop in 1764 in Enkhuizen. His older brother Johannes (1752-1809) continued the trade of their father in Enkhuizen, and the son of Johannes, Jan (1776-1858) did as well, besides being book printer and binder. The question arises why the manuscript was not passed down through the line of book traders rather than to the carpenter Andries. Or were there more than just one copy? Perhaps Andries was favored because he had been named after his yet unknown father's father.

The oldest known information thus far about the family is from January 1741, when Jan Over Lende, 21 years old, signed accounts in Leeuwarden as (what may be translated as) assistant of the public prosecutor. Four years later, in the summer of 1745, he got married in Harlingen, Friesland, where he and his bride Janke Hansen then lived. His surname was spelled by different scribes as Over de Lende and Over Linde respectively. Soon after the marriage they must have moved to Enkhuizen in Westfriesland, on the other side of the Zuyderzee, now IJsselmeer, because their first child was baptized there in June 1746. An older sister of Janke, Antje Hanses already lived in Enkhuizen when the latter got married in 1742, and a younger brother Oene Johannesz also married there in 1751. It is still unknown what profession Jan Over Lende had between 1741 and 1765, but in 1746 he signed five notarial documents as a witness. His signature then was Jan Andriesz, using his patronymic instead of the surname Over Linde. Also, at the registrations of baptisms between 1746 and 1764 of all his children, the surname was not used. When he and his wife signed their testament in 1783, he wrote Over Lende again. At his death in 1794, the scribe wrote Over de Linden, which would remain the spelling when family names became formalized in 1811, under French rule.

There is no direct clue as to where Jan Andriesz Over Linde was born, but it can hardly be a coincidence that a Lijsbet Andriesdr from Steggerda, married to Engele Haitzes, had a son Andries, born in Lemmer in 1763, who would later (1811 at the latest) also adopt the name Over de Linde. The Linde or Lende was and is the name of a stream in the south of the province Friesland. Seen from Leeuwarden, Harlingen and Lemmer, Steggerda lies on the other side of it. To go there, or to have come from there, one had to go over the Linde.

Is this why Jan used it as a surname in Leeuwarden in 1741 and in Harlingen in 1745 and why he initially did not use the name in Enkhuizen, because there they would not have known of a stream called Linde? Or did he move to Enkhuizen to flee from something and did he hide for a while with the more anonymous patronymic? Did he as a book trader get hold of the manuscript and keep it because of the stunning coincidence that it had been copied by an apparent namesake, or had he had it for much longer, before he moved to Westfriesland? Was Okke, son of Hidde Oera Linde, addressed on page one of the manuscript an actual forefather of Jan, or did a later ancestor start using the surname Over Linde, because he read it in the manuscript that had otherwise come in his possession?

These questions and speculations will only have value for readers who are willing to consider authenticity of the Oera Linda manuscript. With the advancing digitization of archives, relevant information may be found more easily in the future, if not about the Over de Linden family, then perhaps in other families with curious names, like Tex, Jol and Van Adelen.