The Vreugdenhil-family is without doubt a Westlandic family. Naaldwijk was the place where ancestor Jacob Jacobszoon was born in the second half of the 16th century. From there a huge differentiation is originated. No doubt it belongs to one of the most widespread families of this area.
From the olden days most tried to make a living from arable farming or with some livestock; most of the time as farmhands. This can be traced back from the jobdescriptions like workman, farmhand and such. Until 1800 most had to be satisfied with a simple, and often poorly living condition.
Halfway through the last century, when the economical possibilities became better especially within the arable section, some became more wealthy thanks to hard and often long hours of work. For example this can be taken from the fact that ‘a help’ or ‘a maid’ lived in the house. Until then the Westland was their domain. But at the same time the spread of the family started. First to the villages and town at the edge of the Westland. After that also to other parts of the country and finally also past the borders of the country. The reasons for this emigration aren’t directly clear from the data. Probably they were in the area of possible living conditions and future perspectives. Nowadays one can find Vreugdenhils in America (USA), Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Curaçao, Federal Republic of Germany, France, New Zealand, Spain and South Africa. Nonetheless the biggest concentration of familymembers can still be found in the Westland.
Because of the livestock farming one comes in the trade of dairy, and later fruit and vegetables; be it with changing success. Around 1900 the greenhouse farming starts to play a role of significance in the Westland. In that time there also originates a bigger range of professions. Sometimes started because not every son was able to make a living in the arable or greenhouse farming. But it is striking that until that time little to no-one from the Vreugdenhil-family was seen in public life. Only in rare cases a Vreugdenhil was a member of a towncounsil, or even alderman (Maasland), but in other areas of social life, they’re rarely found. This is different within church life. The often very faithful and almost always protestant disposition brings them into many layers of the hierarchy within church life. They play they roles within church counsil, are elders or deacons or religion-teacher, or – in this century – clergyman. Nowadays there are various clergymen with the Vreugdenhil-name; usually in church communities with a more conservative stand. And also now one can see members of the Vreugdenhil-family in various positions within church life.
Where the Vreugdenhil have been raised on the land, their down-to-earth philosophy of life and their punctuality have brought them also within technic and science in this century. At the building of the Maastunnel and in lesser extent the Metro in Rotterdam the Vreugdenhil-name was known to every insider. About the construction of the Maastunnel a really good book was written by him. Moreoever this Vreugdenhil was the chairman of the Dutch Union of Christian Technics before the Second World War. Even now there are many in the Christian National Union who knew this person. Also at the Department of Waterways and Public Works in the last half century various members of the Vreugdenhil-family have worked there and within the merchant navy the familyname is not unknown. Various Vreugdenhils have sailed the seas as captains. There is even one in that trade who gained a name of world repute and in different shipping museums they will be able to tolk about him with pride. One of these captains settled on Curaçao in 1928 and started an extensive grocery company that also takes care of stocking ships with food. One simply can’t think it away anymore from Curaçao and its surrounding area. Nowadays it’s being lead by one of his sons. By the way, doing business is something that occurs more often within the family. In Rotterdam there is a wholesale trade in packaging materials. It is an extensive family company with various chain stores. We’ve already written about the many tradesmen in the grocery-trade. But there are also Vreugdenhils to be found in other branches.
The family also doesn’t lack in writing talent. Besides the books and writings of clerical origin, there are various novels, children’s books, books about shipping trade, journalistical contribution to periodicals and trade magazines etc. There are such creative minds with brush and hammer too. For example it is striking that branch 0 we encounter several art-painters and in this branch we also meet a sculptor.
Thanks to the study possibilities after 1945 there are several Vreugdenhils with academic titles, however, we can’t skip the fact that the first Vreugdenhil, who – already in 1917 – was able to dress himself with an title in engineering, was born in 1891 (branch B) as the son of a baker…
And when viewing the Vreugdenhils themselves than they’re: down-to-earth, reliable, reasonable, moralistic, ill-disposed of extreme behaviour, economical, democratic and fairly tolerant…; just like most Dutch people!
The Westlandic Vreugdenhil-family: almost four millennia of genealogy (1985).