Op den Graeff, Graeff, Gräff in Germany

Arrive, Mystery and Imigration

Poem about Herman op den Graeff (1585-1642)
Poem about Herman op den Graeff (1585-1642)

Alleged second Graeff line:


Originally descendant from the old austrian dynastic family Von Graben, an illegetime branch of the meinhardinian dukes and counts, from the Kornberg castle close to Graz (Styria). Wolfgang von Graben arrives to Holland in 1483 and has two sons. The second, Abraham op den Graeff (1485/1490-1561 died in Düsseldorf), who possible married to Matriarch van de Aldekerk (1500-1525) was the ancrestor of the op den Graeff line in Kleve (Germany).


During the Thirty Years War, many genealogical records housed in churches were destroyed, and attempts to reconstruct op den Graeffs genealogy were made in the late 1600s in Germany. One reconstruct, entitled "The Works of Gabriel Bucellini" (Gabriel Bincelint) and printed in 1652 or 1662, had favourite Herman op den Graeff (1585-1642) descending like the dutch (De) Graeffs in the (maternal, Anna op den Graeff van de Aldekerk) line from the House von Graben through Wolfgang von Graben.



Another, but alleged and unproven reconstruction had Op den Graeff descending in the paternal (maternal Graeff-line from Wolfgangs son Abraham op den Graeff) line from the House of Cleves, a ducal house who said to be descendent from the mythologic swan-knight Elias, a close relative to Lohengrin. The original Op den Graeff coat of arms shows the same coat of arms as the Von Graben family (from their carniolian, styrian and carinthian branch). The alleged coat of arms of the line of Herman op den Graeff, who was the alleged son of the nun Anna op den Graeff, named van de Aldekerk (also Anna van de Aldekerk, 1557-1613) - the alleged daughter of Herman op den Graeff (van de Aldekerk) (born 1520) and his morganatic wife, princess Amalia of Cleves (sister of Anna of Cleves who married to king Henry VIII of England) - and her second cousin John William, duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, count of the Marck shows a different coat of arms. In the Cologne Glass Panes (Op den Graeff windows) from 1630 it display he Lohengrin swan of the arms of Cleves, as an alleged nonhereditary son of John William of Cleves. But this is all alleged and unproven.



The op den Graeffs was Mennonits and an immigrate to Krefeld. In 1683 some of the Op den Graeffs descendents migrated to the United States. Abraham op den Graeff, one of the three sons of Isaac Hermansz op den Graeff was invited by his cousin William Penn in 1681 to leave Krefeld for Philadelphia. They are among the thirteen families ("Original 13") often referred to as the Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania founders, who arrived on the ship Concord on October 6, 1683. Surnames were changed to Updengraff at some point either upon their arrival to Philadelphia or shortly thereafter. Another american Op den Graeff family, Updegrove, descendat from one John William op den Graeff (1732-1800/1804). They arrived to Germantwn around 1754.

Notable family members

* Herman op den Graeff (van de Aldekerk) (born 1520), alleged but unproven Baron Aldekerk and husband of princess Amalia of Cleve (sister of Anna von Kleve, the wife of king Henry VIII of England)

* Hermann op den Graeff (1585-1642), mennonite Lord-Bischop of Crefeld, Alleged son of Anna op den Graeff van de Aldekerk and Duke John William of Julich-Cleve-Berg

* Abraham Isacks op den Graeff (1649-1731), one of the Original 13, the first german settlers in America, signer of the first organized religious protest against slavery in colonial America