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 a large percentage of 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 (Albany). Arent apparently came on the same ship. Albert and
his family operated two sawmills (under one roof?) on the Normanskill (Norman’s Creek. The Dutch referred
to Norwegians as Normans). Arent was 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.
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." "Brott"
originated later as some branches of the family moved West.
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 DNA testing will someday identify our Scandinavian cousins.
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.