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Marigje Arriens: The Mysterious Genealogy of a Dutch Witch


Marigje Arriens is noted as among the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in Holland (although this is a highly contested "fact"). She was, at one point in her life, a respected practitioner of medicine during the 1500s, before she was executed in 1591. Little is actually recorded of this woman, considering she continues such an historic place in the history of witch trials. Even though she was a noted medical practitioner, she fell from grace when she was allegedly accused of bewitching a child. It's also been written that a so-called "unsatisfied customer" accused her of witchcraft. At any rate, she was executed by strangulation, and then her body was burned -- as was the custom way of "disposing of witches" in Holland at the time.  The genealogy of Marigje Arriens is incredibly vague and difficult to trace -- and nothing is written about a husband or children. However, This woman lived into her 70s -- which makes it highly likely that she married and produced children. However, according to this profile on the Digital Women's Lexicon of the Netherlands, she admitted to never marrying -- but having "lived in falsehood" for several years with two different men.

The Genealogy of Marigje Arriens

Marigje (also known as Marichgen) was never married, but did live out of wedlock with two different men throughout her 72 years of life. She first admitted to "living in falsehood" (a term for what would later be known as "common law marriage"), with a man named Michiel de Cuiper in a town called Nieuwpoort. Researching the existence of this man has proven difficult, however, the "de Cuiper" surname existed in the area, and even branched out variations such as Kuyper, Cowper and Cooper. Upon researching the possible genealogy of Michiel de Cuiper (in an effort to determine if any children were born between he and Marigje), I found a woman named Cornelia Ariensd(likely a shortened version of Ariensdottir) Kuiper. She had completely unknown parentage -- which was a normality among orphaned children or those born out of wedlock. This woman married a man named Jacob Hordijk and produced two children. There are conflicting search results on her age, with the general consensus putting her birth around 1520 -- which was the same year Marigje Arriens was supposedly born. It should be noted that there are no birth records of Cornelia Ariensd Kuiper - so her actual date of birth, along with who her parents are, remains unknown. There is no definitive proof that Cornelia is the daughter of Marigje Arriens and Michiel de Cuiper. However, historic documents from her trial have her name listed clearly as Marichgen Ariansdr! It is because of these similarities that I have a strong suspicion that Cornelia Ariensd Kuiper is the illegitimate daughter of Marigje Arriens (Ariensd) and Michiel de Cuiper (whom also has a mysterious ancestry). However, this cannot be proven at this time.

Marigje also admitted to living with another man in the 1580s. His name was Ariaan Bouwenszoon. Marigje would have been in her 60s by this time, and it's unlikely that she produced any children through this "falsehood marriage." It was also during this time that the accused witch admits to having been visited by "the devil." Under torture during her trial, Marigje Arriens told her confessors that while she was living with Bouwenszoon, she became involved with witchcraft under the direction of this so called devil man. It's unknown if she was referring to the man with whom she lived, or if she was just generally admitting to witchcraft to put a stop to the torture being inflicted upon her.

Since there are no documents proving any type of childbirth or marriage in regards to Marigje Arriens, it is impossible to trace one's own genealogy to her as a direct ancestor. However, it is very possible to trace your genealogy to this historic "witch" as another type of relation with the proper research.

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