Wolphert Jacob Beeldsnijder Matroos Majorin Elizabeth Bijval Pollux Ernst Matroos Castor Jacob Matroos Adjuba Mini tree diagram

Elizabeth Bijval

also known as Betje Van Beeldsnijder

1742 - 1830

Life History


Born in Suriname

28th Nov 1776

Birth of daughter Majorin Elizabeth Bijval in Suriname

27th Oct 1779

Birth of son Castor Jacob Matroos in Suriname

27th Oct 1779

Birth of son Pollux Ernst Matroos in Suriname


Death of Wolphert Jacob Beeldsnijder Matroos in The Hague, Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands


Death of son Castor Jacob Matroos

11th Mar 1830

Died in Paramaribo, Suriname

image source


The picture on the right is of a beautiful, proud Nzema woman (a model). Did Elizabeth (Betje) look like her?

The dates we have found for her on the web show that she died in her late eighties, outliving her 'Surinamese husband' by 37 years.
['Surinamese marriage' was the term given to the relationships between whites and (generally) mulatto women. These 'marriages' and their families were an accepted norm in Suriname - with the offspring sometimes recognised as relatives by the 'legitimate' family in Holland.
Elizabeth's son, Jacob, for example, is buried in a family crypt in Holland.]

Elizabeth's Baptism is recorded in the Dutch Archives:

Name: Beetje van Beeldsnijder Matroos
Baptismal Name: Elisabeth Sabina
Date of Baptism: 11 November 1810
Date of Death: 11 March 1830
Source Reference Nummer toegang:, inventarisnummer: 22, folionummer: 13

From Dutch Archives (translated)

1780, December 14, baptized by me .. in the church of Paramaribo three loggerhead mustise children with names:
the first Elizabeth Bijval born November 28, 1776
the second Castor Jacob Matroosen and third Plux Const Matroosen born the October 27, 1779 being twins.
All three born to the mulatto Elizabeth belonging now to W J Beeldsnijders Matroos

The fact that Elizabeth and the children all have surnames (it is stated that they are 'children with names') suggests that they are all 'free'; that Elizabeth who had been owned Beeldsnyder was no longer a slave and 'belonged' to him in a different way.

census_1811_Betje_Beeldsnijder_sm.jpg In the Surinam Census in 1811

Elizabeth is 69 years old, recorded as Betje von Beeldsnyder, a 'free', 'coloured' woman. Living with her is Anna von Betje von Beeldsnyder; probably a slave freed by Elizabeth/Betje.

The census form is signed on her behalf by her son Jacob Matroos.


Death Announcement Betjes_death.jpg

Announcement of the death of Betje van Beeldsnijder, in the local paper - placed by her daughter Marjorin Buschman and her son Ernst Matroos.

The fact that Elizabeth/Betje lived to 88 in the rather hostile environment of Suriname is probably extraordinary.

Names in Surinam

Slave origin is indicated by 'van' - i.e. 'from' some plantation.

Donna Mendez informed us that "Illegitimate and mixed race people assumed a dizzying spectrum of surnames. They could be named after their father of course, but could also be given the name of:

the plantation from which they originated;
the owner of the plantation;
the person who represented them in their bid for freedom;
their mother's maiden name (which could also have been invented);
their paternal grandmother's maiden name;
a part of a surname (like Vries instead of de Vries);
a surname with letters inverted (like the bizarre Tdlohreg for Gerholdt);
a totally fantasized name (though these were more common later in the 19th century).

The only thing that really mattered was having a surname, because that meant you were free."

Paramaribo, Suriname - Freedom

From Language and Slavery