(De) Graeff in the Netherlands

Wappen De Graeff

Rise, Greatness and Fall

Lord Cornelis de Graeff (1599-1664)
Lord Cornelis de Graeff (1599-1664)

Originally descendant from Wolfgang von Graben) 1465-1521) who arrived to Holland in 1483. His son Pieter Graeff (born 1484) was the alleged ancrestor of the (De) Graeff line in the Netherlands; his brother Abraham op den Graeff claimed as a possible ancrestor of the german and US-american Op den Graeff. 


During the Dutch Golden Age (around 1578-1672), the De Graeff family had a leading role in Amsterdam and Holland administration. They were very critical of the influence of the House of Orange-Nassau. The De Graeff belonged to the republican political movement, also referred to as the state oriented, as opposed to the Royalists. Together with their relatives, the Republican political leaders of the Bicker family and Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt, the republican minded brothers Cornelis and Andries de Graeff for example strived to the abolition of stadtholdership. In Rampjaar 1672, when the Organists took power again, the De Graeffs lost their positions as one of the key States party families.


A big accomplishment of the family De Graeff was in the sponsorship of art and architecture. They were responsible for the majority of Amsterdam art during their reign in the Dutch Golden Age. Andries and Cornelis continued in the family tradition of patronizing artists. They would chiefly comission works from Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael, Pickenoy, Quellinus, Caspar Netscher and Gerard de Lairesse and Jacob Jordaens. They were well known to have been patrons of the poets, example to Joost van den Vondel.


Diplom (Imperial knight) loaned to Mr. Andries de Graeff in 1677:

"Fide digis itegur genealogistarum Amsteldamensium edocti testimoniis te Andream de Graeff non paternum solum ex pervetusta in Comitatu nostro Tyrolensi von Graben dicta familia originem ducere, qua olim per quendam ex ascendentibus tuis ejus nominis in Belgium traducta et in Petrum de Graeff, abavum, Johannem, proavum, Theodorum, avum, ac tandem Jacobum, patrem tuum, viros in civitate, Amstelodamensi continua serie consulatum scabinatus senatorii ordinis dignitabitus conspicuos et in publicum bene semper meritos propagata nobiliter et cum splendore inter suos se semper gessaerit interque alios honores praerogativasque nobilibus eo locorum proprias liberum venandi jus in Hollandia, Frisiaque occidentale ac Ultrajectina provinciis habuerit semper et exercuerit."


Today the descendants of the (De) Graeff family lives in the Netherlands, Germany (?), Austria and South Africa.

Lordships, fiefs and manors of the dutch (De) Graeffs, 1550-1870

Notable family members

* Dirck Jansz Graeff (1532/1589), mayor of Amsterdam, richest merchant of the city, close friend to prince Willem I. of Orange, the Silent

* Jacob Dircksz de Graeff (1570/1638), regent and mayor of Amsterdam, lord of the semisouverain fief Zuid-Polsbroek

* Cornelis de Graeff (1599/1664), regent and mayor of Amsterdam, dutch statesman, president of the Dutch East Indies Company, lord of the semisouverain fief Zuid-Polsbroek, advisor to the princess of England and Johan de Witt, his nephew

* Andries de Graeff (1611/1678), free imperial knight, regent and mayor of Amsterdam, dutch statesman

* Pieter de Graeff (1638/1707), patrician, lord of the semisouverain fief Zuid-Polsbroek, president of the Duch East Indies Company, advisor to his cousin Johan de Witt

* Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek (1833/1916), diplomat, generalconsul and dutch minister in Japan, he played a major part in the many negotiations between Japan and various western countires. He was advisor to Emperor Meiji and laid the foundation stone for a modern western diplomacy in Japan

* Andries Cornelis Dirk de Graeff (1872/1958), governor general of the Dutch East Indies, dutch minister for foreign affairs