It is important to understand the Dutch naming system since it frequently provides clues about other generations. The Dutch followed a basic pattern of naming their children for relatives. Generally it went in this order:
First son – maternal grandfather
Second son – paternal grandfather
First daughter – paternal grandmother
Second daughter – maternal grandmother
Note – if one of the grandparents is deceased then that name is often used first.
The next children are usually named for brothers and sisters of the parents. There is not a specific order that I have seen.
Not every family followed this practice! It is not unusual to find siblings that take different naming paths with one brother following the tradition, and one brother not. The naming pattern simply becomes another tool for you to use in researching.
Recycling names is the hardest thing to get a grip on. When a child died then the next child of that gender would often receive that name – especially if it was the name of the grandparent. When researching on Genlias I once ran into a family that had five children named Jan, four that died in infancy and one that reached maturity. Also a little unusual to us is the naming of a child from a second marriage for a deceased first spouse.
Female names are frequently the same as male names with only the suffix difference of ina, the, pje, je, or simply an “a.” The male Cornelis becomes the female Cornelia or Neeltje, Hendrik becomes Hendrika or Hendrikje, Jan become Jantje.
When you begin your research, you may need to do additional research to find the other versions of your ancestor’s name. Sygje Stek is listed on her tombstone as Sallie. Sygje is how it appears on her birth registration signed by her father, but I have seen it spelled in several different ways both in Dutch and in English.
There are a lot of sites available online if you are interested in finding out more about Dutch naming practices or a particular name.