Poorter is an historical term for a type of Dutch, or Flemish, burgher who had acquired the right to live & work within the walls of a city.

These rights, or citizenship, could be gained by paying a sum of money to, and registering, with the magistrate of the city. The payment of money was to prove that you weren’t poor, and that you could maintain a household. Sometimes there were also religious restrictions. An oath was also taken and it was customary to have sponsor who publicly supported you and gave witness of your excellent behaviour.

It happened on more than one occassion that women were Poorters. They were either the daughter or a poorter or the widow of a poorter, trying to continue the business.

The book you see here is the Poorter book of the city of Leiden, dated 1400-1459. I have studied and listed the names of women who were accepted as poorters between 1450 and 1459. Women could also be a sponsor! Look for their names in Green.

Please note that the names are not normalised; they contain ‘typos’ which is what we like in medieval sources.

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