Intensification of family relations? Changes in the choice of marriage witnesses in the Netherlands, 1830-1950

Hilde Bras*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines whether and why a process of intensification of family relations took place during the long nineteenth century by investigating Dutch marriage couples’ selection of witnesses. The results show that during the period 1830-1950, lateral kin (siblings, siblings-in-law and cousins) were increasingly
selected as marriage witnesses, at the expense of professional witnesses and patronage relations. This ‘lateralization’ process accelerated after 1890, with the take-off of industrialization and urbanization in the Netherlands and continued at least until 1950. The intensification of kin ties was not only related to economic development and social class formation, it was part of a broader cultural process of familiarization, which started among the urban bourgeoisie in the western part of the Netherlands, but spread to other regions and social groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-135
Number of pages34
JournalTijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15-Dec-2011
Externally publishedYes

Cite this