THE BRATT FAMILY
OF NEW NETHERLAND
Albert and Arent Andriessen and their families were early settlers in the Albany, New York area when the
colony still belonged to the Netherlands. Like many of the other settlers, they were not Dutch. These brothers came
from Fredrikstad, Norway.
Over the years, a large number of spelling changes have occurred. Almost
all Bradt's and most Brott’s are descended from the two Bratt brothers. Many Bratt's, Vanderzee’s, Brodt’s,
Broat’s, Van Brott’s, and Van Bradt’s and some Brad's and Bradd's are also direct descendents. These
are not the only spellings. Some of the others are listed in "Name Listings" in the menu at the top.
The Vanderzee line is descended from Albert’s son, Storm, who was born on the sea crossing to America.
"Van der zee" means "from the sea" in Dutch.
In 1637 Albert
Andriessen de Noorman arrived in Rensselaerswyck near the settlement that became Albany. Arent apparently came
on the same ship. Albert and his family operated two sawmills just below the falls of the Normanskill (Norman’s Creek.
The Dutch referred to Norwegians as Normans). Arent became a farmer and fur trader and his family were some of
the original settlers in Schenectady.
We can only guess how the Bratt surname originated.
Hereditary family names were not used by the Dutch or the Norwegians. When England took over New Netherland and it became
New York, that soon began to change.
In those days it was
common for Norwegians to use the name of their ancestral farm as their last name. "Bratt" can mean "steep"
in Norwegian and it's frequently found in place names all over Scandinavia. (Most of today's Norwegian Bratt's probably
took their names from farms at the end of the 1800s and are not related.)
possibility is the old Bratt family that originated in Bergen. This family originated in the middle ages,
but no one has ever discovered any documents that tie us in. It could be more than a coincidence that Fredrikstad is
located on the Glomma River which has it's headwaters in Oppland. Oppland is the home county of one branch of these
There is also a well-documented Bratt family from Brattfors (Steep
Falls) in Sweden. Located 100 miles from Fredrikstad, it was the site of a water-powered iron foundry as early as 1540.
Perhaps someday DNA testing will identify our Scandinavian cousins.
To the best of our knowledge, Albert never used the spelling "Bradt"; he
signed his name Brat or Bratt. Bradt become more common because the Dutch customarily insert a silent "d."
Other spellings usually came about later as some branches of the family moved West.
Over 95% of the Bradt cousins descend through female lines. It's no exaggeration to say that we would not
have a Bradt Family Society today without them.