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About the study

My One Name Study came about when hitting a 'brick wall' while researching my great, great grandfather Dirk BROBBEL's ancestry. With the distinctive Dutch name of BROBBEL being the only one in Australia (and misspelt BROBBLE), after accounting for all his children, I turned my attention to Holland to find his family. I soon found the name not very common, and every occurrence in every generation was in Vlaardingen. I became convinced that all BROBBELs could be related to the one ancestor, and so set about to prove or disprove my theory. In the mean time, I hoped to find at least one Dutch relative, and I have!

My aims and approach for this ONS differ from many others in that my intention is to not only map the occurrence of the surname BROBBEL in all places and at all times, but to map as many as possible who carry the blood but not necessarily the surname, as I now am even surer we are all related.

Variant names

The only variant I have found is the Australian misspelling BROBBLE, which came from incorrectly spelt records in the 1800s for statutory documents, and so the spelling became 'officially' Anglicised. It is the only time the surname is spelt differently to BROBBEL and no longer survives amongst living family members.

In 1823, permission was given by (Dutch) Royal Decree for the name BROBBEL to be used by Teunis DORSMAN and he then became known as Teunis BROBBEL Dorsman. I am therefore now also collecting all references to the BROBBEL Dorsman line. It may not be a technical variant but it involves the BROBBEL surname and is connected to the family and so has become part of my study. It appears this honour was in memory of the grand uncle of Teunis Dorsman, Teunis BROBBEL, who may have been Vlaardingen Burger (Mayor) for a time and was very prominent in the fishing industry, and, had no children. Investigation is ongoing and much Dutch translation is required! It is indeed an intriguing discovery.

Name origin

The origin of BROBBEL is not clear as yet. It is first found with the birth in the 1590s of 3 children to Aryen Willemsz BROBBEL also known as Adriaen Willemsz van der HEYE/HEIJE and Arijen Willemsz BROBBELAER. Their mother was Trijintje CORNELISDR. The surname was always used as BROBBEL after this time and never changed in spelling, apart from the Australian branch. In 1594, Aryen was declared a Poorter or Freeman of Vlaardingen.

My primary aim in starting this study was to eventually discover whether or not we all descend from the one man, and all indications are at this stage that Aryen Willemsz BROBBEL is that man. However, I have only been able to trace descendants of 2 of the children, so where did the first born disappear to, and did he had any descendants? Until current generations are contacted and been able to establish their link to the BROBBEL family tree, I cannot conclusively say I've 'solved' this, but so far, I have found absolutely nothing to indicate otherwise. I therefore now assume we are all related unless evidence surfaces to show otherwise.

Historical occurrences of the name

The early generations were seamen and almost all involved in the fishing industry - they were herring fishermen or skippers of other's or their own ships, or a fleet of ships. Some were also ship builders. Others were coopers (making barrels to store the herring) and merchants in the fishing industry, most early families having their own warehouse on the waterfront. Family businesses continued generation after generation, with children involved in their parent's business.

Besides today's artists, photographers, sports people, authors, and other influential and professional people dotted around the world and found mentioned through a Google search, our most influential and "important" relative is Teunis BROBBEL, mentioned above in relation to Teunis Dorsman. There is a family crest belonging to Teunis BROBBEL, dated 1780, of which I have a picture from the archives of the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie. I also have 2 other versions painted in different colour schemes passed on by family members. It is highly likely this Teunis BROBBEL was the same Teunis mentioned above in relation to Teunis Dorsman (see Variants above). He may have been Burger (Mayor) of Vlaardingen at one time but was certainly involved with council business, witnessing many court and official documents relating to Wills, disputes, orphans and business dealings.

Name frequency

Outside Holland, and particularly Zuid (South) Holland, the name is extremely rare. From the late 1500s, the surname was found in Vlaardingen, Zuid Holland, very close to Rotterdam. There is no evidence found so far that indicates any other location in the world before 1853. BROBBELs can now be found spread a bit further afield, but still about 85-90% remain in Zuid Holland.

In a distribution map for 2007, there were 327 people with the surname BROBBEL in Netherlands. With other countries added and allowing for some gaps in my non-Dutch family group's information, I estimate there are between 380-420 BROBBELs in the world today. I'd love to make contact with them all! Many thousands more of course, carry the blood line but a different surname (like I do).

(I am also recording bloodline descendants, those that are descended from any female BROBBEL because my aim is to map every descendant, not just those who carry the surname today.)

Distribution of the name

The earliest BROBBEL emigrant from Holland appears to be Dirk BROBBEL, my great, great grandfather who arrived in Australia in 1853. There were no BROBBELs in England, Canada or the United States of America before the 20th Century. England's 1st family of 2 different families today, appears between 1901 in 1905, and Canada's 1st family several decades later. Australia's 2nd migrant family arrived 99 years after the first, arriving in Victoria in 1952. New Zealand has a more recently arrived family. So far though, all these country's BROBBELs have also originated in Vlaardingen and are all related to the 3rd child of the original Aryen Willemsz BROBBEL.

In the past few decades, there are a few mentions of people living in USA, France, Germany and Switzerland and some other Dutch dominion states and there are a lot more Archives and white pages to search. I would particularly love to make contact with anyone related to these people so I can connect them to their branch of the family.


Recently, scanned images of newspaper clippings of deaths, births, marriages and anniversaries have become available so many new names have been added to the database this year. However, there is no connection from these family groups to the earlier generations, so this is an area where contact with today's generations is vital to make the links. If you are related to the BROBBEL family, please contact me so we can make the link to your ancestors. There is no pressure to give personal details, just to link you to your ancestors.

I have had contact with at least one person from all known BROBBEL family groups who do not live in Holland, except for the USA, and have my own Australian branch. I have a genealogy of some of the BROBBEL families in Vlaardingen written by an historian last century, containing family groups and some associated events but is by no means complete. The data was compiled from what was available in the Vlaardingen Archives only, as the author's purpose was to put together prominent family surnames from Vlaardingen as part of the town's history - and BROBBEL was one of those he chose! I have also been given translated portions of this genealogy, which I am gratefully using as I investigate the Dutch documents involved with wills, orphans, deeds, etc.

As at 26th January 2012, the Database (1590s-2011), contains:

16 Generations

854 BROBBEL (2809 descendants with various surnames)

22 BROBBLE (complete)

36 BROBBEL Dorsman (incomplete)

75+ Unconnected individuals (mostly 20th century)

877 Marriages

674 Different Surnames


Retained study profile

This study is no longer registered with the Guild, but this profile page has been retained at the member's request. Please note that neither officers nor members of the Guild are able to answer any questions about this study.