Martin van Britsom's Reflection on



Nederlandse versie not up to date


 One Popcke Donia (Doyngha) judge at Teerns or a Tiesinga or a Britsu(o)m, in several real estate transactions in the years 1415, 1431 and 1437  and sealed the transactions (still existing) documents. See Friesian language version of Rients Faber's Popcke Donia biography.

The first time the name of "van Britsom" is mentioned is in an official document of 6 May 1431 whereby Popeka Thiessinga a Britzsim confirming exchanging land with the convent of Clercamp. The parchment was sealed with the seal of Popeka a "Fleur de Lis". Popeka was back then a very important person. He was the Judge, Jury and Hangman, he was a "Grietman".


On fleur-de-lis, seal used by Popcke Donia . A royal French symbol. The most ancient variation is the fleur-de-lis ‘au pied nourri’ i.e. without the lower part, everything under the horizontal bar apparently cut off. Old French also calls this fleur ‘en lonc’or ‘au pie coupe'. Sometimes the lower part is represented but in a triangular shape: ‘au pied pose’. These two variants appear in the north of France and the Netherlands . Towards the middle of the 13th century some seals represent the fleur in a more naturalistic fashion: it stamina between the petals, and the petals end with arabesques, as if one was trying to evoke the last stage of bloom. Such a flower is called ‘epanouie’ or ‘florencee’ (that of Florence being the most famous example).

Whatever, the symbol  Popcke’s  was using  a  seal; symbols normally attributing to a family  insignia i.e. (stemming from a noble family) in Bourgogne . Cresent (Islamic symbol) stating  that the bearer (grandfather) was a crusader; (much in use in Frisia) the 5 pointed star, a judicial symbol: judge, speaking on behalf of the emperor; Lion stemming from the ‘ducs Valois de Bourgogne’.


In the last year he was called (by Cammingha) Heer (Sir) Britsom (Spot between the legs of the U, making it the "n O seems). It is the first time that the place name Britsum was writen as a surname.        

This was the way he wrote the "van Britsom" name in 1431   

The Donia's are originally from Ameland (at that time, independent glory, sort of Switzerland in terms of money and arms / supplier. Only accountable to the emperor (The potestaat of Friesland was a medieval ruler) and ran as such with the Camminga's and the Jelmera's of Friesland. Family ties were surely mixed, with the original family name was replaced by the name of the "Stins" (zie P.N.Noomen) in which they withdrew.

Rixt a Donia Watse a Camminga frou van Amelant

 (click here voor the small tombstone of Watse a Camminga and his wife Rixt a Donia)

* Harinxma one married daughter Popcke and/or his brother Benedict, and went to live in a Stins. Also took that name there of and founded a dynasty with six sons. There was never much peace after this. "Bloodbath's, stealing land, political power players, founders of the University of Franeker, monastic founders and signed the Peace of Westphalia also called the Peace of Muenster and the 80 year war. As you can see on attached picture below, standing 2nd from the left at the table. Frans was also plenipotentaris. See also the genealogical line
Simon Wierstra .


Peace of Westphalia (Franciscus Donia 2nd from the left at the table)

Subsequent research on my family I went back in time, i e different from the donia's Popcke upwards and end in 1542 when one Danijs (Dionysius) of Britsom, born in Basel, a town not far from Leuven. Father unknown. It was not uncommon at the time that a family was being measured to the place of origin, in this case: where are you from "out of Britsom". (Which in itself is a bit odd given the distance of both villages). "Chic" people latinized their names (see below) ** and so was Danijs Dionysius.

Charterbook of Basel

Made by Boudewijn Speelman, Bazel 19 november 1688

Coat of  Arms of Basel, Belgium (look at Donia de Halum arms above)

It will be clear by now that there are two lines running between one of Popcke Britsom (but not there after have met) and Dionysius of Britsom.

Around the time Dionysius was born, one of the sons Harinxma  Sierck (Siricus) was summoned to Brussels by the Duke d'Alva, and was banished. He leaves after some time Leuven and leaves three sons behind, to go live in East Friesland.

Because of various developments, I get the impression that one of those left behind, or he himself, might of been the biological father of Danijs, but have at present no real evidence for it. They came from Britsum, and yes they latinized their names and also lived around the corner. Was not unusual that the Frisian nobility had so called 'play children' while being unmarried: whore children (of clergy) bastard (the maid) of your Play child, some married the fiancé only afterwards. They only where not included in the wills of the father..  Anyway, coming back from Frans Donia 'grand tour' of Italy, visiting the University of Douai (around the corner ..) and the University of Leuven and later married Geertruydt van Engelsteedt also makes a beautiful, almost professional drawing in her album amoricum.

     Franciscus Donia                                   Geertruydt van Engelsteedt  

Which leads me to "go down one track in Italy, nothing to do with Van Britsom, but extremely interesting. Sicily is the place around 1500 for  Matteo Matthew Donia. World famous writer, philosopher, physician, poet and engraver. Above all, a pathologist and anatomist, Note that even Vesalius came from Flanders (University of Louvain, Brussels) this is not saying that Matteo also came because I have no proof, nor appeared on the lists of students enrolled there (besides some other Donia's it ).

Matthew had some sons and grandsons (+ / - 13!) All well known gold-silversmiths, engravors (Placido's map of Messina), sculptor (Jacoba!), but who stands out is Franc (iscus). One can find various maps he made and signed by him (in the plate) and in a book about
aquaducts in Rome, many pictures. (Facsimili also held, in addition to his Spanish kings engravings). The strange thing about this man is that the language used in this work and all its maps in Latin is. See map of Westphalia, you see on this Frisian and Groninger coast waters. However, instead of 'Mare Germanica' engraving, he writes "De Noort Zee a Mare D'Alemagne’. Mother’s language or ‘uncle’Frans’ slang?  

An extremely rich source of information and inspiration this family, to end where I began: is there an added value for me to find (you) relating to the Family Donia?

And yes life is full of surprises. Got a distant cousin in America. Approximately 70 years old and thought he was alone in the world, the roots to Europe he could not find it. We have found each other two years ago. His father was the (now appears) half brother of my grandfather  +/- 1880. Same mother different father. Within our family it was rumored that great-grandma was impregnated by a 'strong man', circus artist, a type that lifts dumbbells (dutch = HALTERs.)

En fin, because my cousin and nephew wanted it, I cooperated, we had a dna test done. We had no match. My greatgrandmother later married our name giver. And ME? Playchild? In the American Database there was a 100% match with an American lady, whose ancestors were from Northern France / Flanders  (in the neighborhood where my greatgrandmother lived). The lady's maiden name was HALTER. Same in the family, One thing is for sure, i never received an email from her again!

DONIA’S  through the years: in particular FRISIA. Details are found in the research papers.
A.(ntonio ?) : Il cavaliere…opera ; Anzalone Antonio ; Messina 1629 ; etching by A. Donia of knight in full armor.
Agge: <1509 Rostock.
Allesandro:  silversmith >1719
Antonio engraver: >1624
Antonio: engraver <1624
Antunina:  engraver (maps), sicilia 1513-1674 (some error in dating)
Balthasar : < 1609 Louvain.
Benedictus: <1424-1463
Benedictus: >1340
Binnert:  Engwierdum < 1473
Bocko : <1545 pastor Louvain.
Bonifacius : <1643 Louvain.
Daniel (‘et mere’) : l’Abbay d’Anchin < 1225
Donia’s In particular Sicilia :
Douwe:  father of Haring & Benedictus >1300
Dowa:  Dontinwald grietman < 1418
Ernestus: <1612-1634 Louvain.
Ernst Harinxma Donia: 1585-1634
Ernst: <1617 
Franciscus  Petri: < 1544 Louvain.
Franciscus: <1599 Louvain.
Franciscus: <1601 Heidelberg.
Franciscus: <1602 Louvain.
Francois, de : prior monastry (1463) -1473
Frans (Francisiscus/Francesco): Messina silversmith engraver of maps/book<1668>1701
Frans:  statesman treaty of westphalia:  <1585- 1651
Fredericus: <1545 Louvain.
Giovanni Batista: <1600>1657
Godscalcus: <1470 Cologne.
Guiseppe: silversmith <1658
Haring: <1455-1462
Hotze: <1453
Ignazio:  engraver <1655
Jacoba: sculptor < 1559
Jelmera dit Donia:  <1200
Johan:   -1494
Keimpe:  -1513
Keimpe: 1554-1622
Kempo Cempe: <1509 Rostock.
Kempo or Keimpe:  (son of Frans) <1515-1550
Kempo:  -1462
Kempo: < 1612 Louvain.
Laurentius : <1484 Louvain.
Louw Doeijinga (Donia): Witsbritseradeel, grietman < 1500.
Matteo/ Mattheus*: (opera)music composer, medicus, pathologue/anatomist, poet, engraver, writer; diciple 
Matthias* : < 1530 Franeker.
Nicola (Cola) maria: Pisa <1600>1645 engraver, Firenza silversmith Of Benedetto Vitale, cooperated with Ingrassia and Vesalius(?), Palermo <1550.
Pieter: -1542
Pietro: gold-silversmith <1698
Placido:  engraver (Carravagio) maps, gold- silversmith >1644 >1657
Salvatore: engraver <1728
Sierk (1):  Oosterend , grietman < 1522
Sierk (2): son of 1 grietman <1550
Sierk (3): son of 2 grietman <1569
Siricus : <1545 Louvain.
Siricus : <1565 Louvain.
Sixtus son of Kempo: <1566
Sons/grand , g.grandsons of Matteo:
Tjaard: army commander, William II, took Aachen, blessed by the pope; <1248.
Tjalling <1287.
Tjalling: founder monastry Oudendale, Lidlum <1182.
Tjerk (son of*): <1462
Tjerk* or Sierk Harinxma: living at stins/stronghouse called Donia in Oosterend, Ameland, potestat Westergo 1381, together with family Jelmera at said place, Donia familyname founders.
Vincento Batista:
Vincenzo:  sculptor < 1645

Go to the Library to view the literature which was used.  Please click here to see the overview of the "van Britsom" legacy.
Also visit the Documentatiestichting Leeuwardendeel site 

    mARTin van britsom, Amsterdam d.d. 07 JUL 2011                               

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