Pentekening Pastorij op Beek te Meer door Josephus Koyen (15-06-1923)

The Koyen families - Summary

As mentioned in the introduction, it seems that the Koyens originated from the "Kempen", an area in the South of the Netherlands and the North of Belgium. It is important to realize that in those days most people could not read or write. Not much writing was done and when writing was necessary the names were phonetically spelled.
The use of the formal family name was quite rare and often restricted to use in Birth, Wedding and Death certificates. And in case the Priest, Pastor or Clerk asked, is your name spelled correctly?
What else he or she could say then: YES!?!
In those days, a surname could easily change every generation, imagine a sun of Cornelis Hendrix Coyen. He could be addressed as Cornelissen or Hendrixsen (son of Cornelis or son Hendrix, depending on how the father usual was called).

The written proof of the existence of Koyens in this area dates from 1460, an official certificate was co-signed by Hendrik Koyen. The Kempen area where the Koyens of the "low countries" lived was a victim of the plague and the 80-year Spanish War (1568-1648). In those times, many people became refugees and tried their luck somewhere else. Aside from the "Low Countries", there are Koyens since 1300 in Eastern Europe (Germany, Poland) and a migration back to the West like the Schleswich-Holstein area. This was a disputed area between Germany and Denmark too. In ancient times, Europe was through the centuries a battlefield of War and disputes between Kingdoms, Principalities and Duchies based on religion, power, revenge and/or simple greed.

It is well possible that Koyens of Denmark, Germany and Eastern Europe originated from Flanders (Dukedom Brabant) but there is no solid proof. The phonebook "white pages" of Copenhagen did not give a hit on "Koyen", indicating that it is not common name in Denmark.

Regarding an expert of "Instituut voor Naamkunde" the Koyen name is classified as "Flemish" a Dutch dialect used in Flanders (Belgium) in the Northern Kempen area. An explanation of the meaning of Koyen is that it relates to a profession. A shepherd (herder) of sheep puts the animals in a shed (cage). In the Dutch language, the word cage is "kooi". Plural of "kooi" is "kooien". ("kooy" -> "koyen") Other explanations are possible too and of course, it is quite possible that there are many unrelated Koyens are walking on this Earth.

There are several variants of the spelling of Koyen such as Koijen, Kooyen, Coyen, Coeyen and Verkooijen. In the book of Antoon Koyen "De Familie Koyen" you will find how they are related. In those days the civil administration offices where not that well organized and often the names were written phonetic. Even now a days there are some discrepancies. My Uncle Jos (Page 369, under 5) lives in the Netherlands and he is registered as Koijen, but in his Belgium Military passport he is registered as Koyen.

The problem is that the Dutch letter-y does not exist in the alphabet and is composed with the characters i + j as an ij when it is written with a typewriter or computer. However, the Dutch-y resembles in fact a y with dots if you write it by hand. Therefore, if you see words from Dutch or Flemish origin with an ij or y then you can interchange them in most cases.

(This is not completely true, but in practice it works fine. The Dutch Phonebook works that way!)