Smorenburg: Origin & meaning of surname

Our Smorenburg family branch has its origins in the Netherlands. Interestingly, however, the earliest progenitor of our branch was known only as Jan Schipper.His surname is an occupational name referring to the skipper (“schipper” in Dutch) of a boat, either his own or some else’s. The Dutch word “schip” means ship.2,3  Perhaps Jan himself was not a skipper but most likely his ancestors were skippers of larger sailing ships or of fishing or similar boats on a Dutch lake or river, or at sea. “Een schipper is iemand die een varend beroep uitoefent en daarvoor de kennis, kunde, ervaring en de vereiste diploma’s bezit om als gezagvoerder van een schip te mogen optreden.” 3 In the 16th and 17th centuries, a skipper or ship-master was the person responsible for sailing the ship and had command of a boat/ship in charge of the crew, similar to the captain of a ship.2-5

Jan Schipper’s son, Arie Jansz later became known as Arie Jan Schipper van Smorenburg,1,6 with ‘van Smorenburg’ (‘from Smorenburg’ in English) possibly indicative of a geographical or topographical place or feature near to where he lived. From the fourth generation onward the  ‘van’ was dropped to became Smorenburg. Unfortunately no concrete or referenced information at this point could be found on the origin or meaning of the (Van) Smorenburg surname of our branch.


  1. Voorouders van Annie Verschuren-van Eck.
  2. Sea captain.
  3. Schipper.
  4. Dutch Master Paintings: Fishing Boats On The Beach. 961a9dc03ca40a1f8336234e5d2ec563–fishing-boats-on-the-beach.jpg
  5. Reinier Nooms: Before the battle of the Downs.
  6. Arie Schipper (van Smorenburg).