The oldest use of the family name Van Bohe(e)men occurs, as far as known, in a notarial deed dated June 26, 1636. Thereby Dirk Jansz van Bohemen is mentioned as leaser of some parcels in the West-Escamp polder in The Hague. Dirk Jansz then lives on short distance on a farm near the hamlet of Eikenduinen (see Founder).
The genesis of the family name Van Bohe(e)men is still unclear. It is very unlikely that the family name has to do with an origin of the family in the former kingdom of Bohemia. The use of the family name Van Bohe(e)men only starts under the fifth generation of descendents of founder Philip . If he of an ancestor of him would come from the Kingdom of Bohemia, the family name Van Bohe(e)men would already have been found in an older archive item than the notarial deed from 1636.
It is possible, however, that the origin of the family name has to do with the relation at the beginning of the 17th century between the Republic of the United Netherlands and their rebellious Protestant kindred spirits in Bohemia. This relation brings with it, that Frederik van de Paltz, nicknamed the Winter King of Bohemia, flees with his following from Prague to The Hague after his defeat in 1620 against the Habsburgs. This leads to a much moved stay of this royal family in the former home of Van Oldenbarnevelt on Kneuterdijk in The Hague.
It is conceivable that a wealthy person in the vicinity of the Court of The Hague with a lot of sympathy for the uprising in Bohemia calls a farm after the Central European kingdom. Such a farm name often goes on to its residents and their descendants. This may have happened at Vrederust farm where Sijmen Jan Philipsz lives, or at the farm of Dirk Jansz of Bohemen in Eikenduinen.
At the time of the first use of the family name Van Bohe(e)men both farms are owmed by persons who may be counted among the elite in The Hague. At farm Vrederust, it concerns the influential printer and publisher Machteld Aalbrechtsdr. van Leuningen (1580-1662), also known as Machteld van Wouw. She not only prints all official governmental publications, but also acquires the patent for the State Bible. In 1632 she becomes owner of Vrederust for 27,000 guilders.
At the farm of Dirk Jansz it concerns the owner duo Jan Purticq, secretary of the Court of Holland, and Jacob Stark (Strong), bailiff on the Court of Holland.
Further research in private archivs of the elite in The Hague may prove the suggestions.
In this context the remark fits, that there is also an uprising in Bohemia around 1420. Followers of Jan Hus (1370-1415), a forerunner of Luther, then rebel against the power and wealth of Catholics. Next the Pope calls for the fight against the heretics, resulting in five crusades. The support also comes from a circle around the Abbey of Loosduinen, among by selling ‘cross land’. Fort hat reason the name of the Kingdom Bohemen may have already gone round in the 15th century.
A number of grandchildren and great grandchildren of founder Philip bear some time the family name Vercroft / Vercrocht. This is related to the circumstance they have a stepfather or step-grandfather with this family name. This is clarified further when discussing the family tree for the period 1430-1650.
The spelling of the family name knowns multiple variants. Nowadays, in the Netherlands, the spellings of Van Bohemen and Van Boheemen are left over. The latter spelling is now slightly in the majority. In 2007, 450 people are counted with the spelling variant Van Boheemen, against 437 people with the spelling variant Van Bohemen.
Whether someone has the one or the other spelling variant in his family name depends on the choice made at the birth declaration. Until the beginning of the last century, the preference of the drafter plays an important role. Hence even brothers and sisters are not always registered with the same spelling.
In The Netherlands, the family name Bohemen (without the prefix of ‘Van’) also occurs. In 1947, shortly after the Holocaust, 64 people in the Netherlands with this family name are counted. In 2007 this number has been dropped to 25 people. The name is connected to a Jewish family that comes from Central Europe to the Republic of the United Netherlands at the beginning of the 18th century.
For another part, it concerns a small branch of the Van Bohe(e)men family where, from a certain moment, the family name includes no longer the prefix of ‘Van’.