Van Haelst / Van Aelst, The Origins of the Family


The Family Van Haelst / Van Aelst as described here, probably finds it origins in the medieval town of Aalst between Ghent and Brussels. The known history of our family starts around the year 1320 in Eksaarde in the Waesland, west of Antwerp. During the 14th and 15th century the Van Haelst had land in fief from the Lords Van Vaernewijck in Eksaarde and the Abbey of Boudeloo (Sinaai). The Knights Van Vaernewijck were also magistrates in Aalst on behalf of the Count of Flandres and it is likely that they invited the Van Haelst to come to Eksaarde to manage and cultivate part of their land they had in fief from the Count. At the end of the 15th century the family moved gradually to Belsele, only a few miles east where they stayed most of the 16th century.


St. Andreaskerk, Belsele  

The possibility that the Van Haelst descend from the Lords of Aalst is speculative, although some indications exist. Read more...

Around 1280 several Van Aelst lived in Dendermonde and members of that family moved to Antwerp and the Antwerp area. The relation with the family Van Haelst, described in these pages is not proven.

In the middle of the 17th century Laureys (= Laurentius) van Aelst settled in Verrebroeck as a miller. The family coats of arms refer to this profession and the wooden mill at the "Hooge Wilde" near Verrebroek.

The medieval Saint Andres (St. Andries) church in the beautiful little town of Belsele, west of St. Niklaas. Paschier van Aelst, his wife Anna Borgeljoen and their children must have lived close to this historic place.



Kerk Verrebroek   Graf Verrebroek

Laurentius Church in Verrebroeck (B), "The Cathedral of the polder".


Tomb of Joannes Baptista van Haelst (1697-1761), mayor of Verrebroeck (1750-1761).

The son of Laureys, Joannes Baptista van Haelst, mayor of Verrebrouck, married twice, first to Joanna Theresia Laureys and later to Dorothea Picavet. He and his spouses were burried in the church of Saint Laurentius where his tomb can still be seen half hidden under the main altar.

Graf Ferdinand van Haelst  

Augustinus Henricus, fifth child of Joannes Baptista and Dorothea Picavet moved to Zuiddorpe and became mayor of the village. Joannes Baptista and Joanna Theresia Laureys had 12 children, the last one was also called Joannes Baptista. He maried Judoca Burm and their fifth child Modestus moved to Zuiddorpe as well, where he became mayor after Augustinus Henricus. Augustinus Adolphus, son of Modestus, married Rosalia Thomaes and became major of Zuiddorpe from 1871till 1895. See "The Family Van Haelst in Zuiddorpe" by Dr Guy van Haelst (acces for family only). The rest of family settled in the region between Antwerp and Bruges on both sides of the Belgium-Dutch border (see: map of the South-West of The Netherlands) where several branches are still living in villages and towns such as Kieldrecht (NL), St. Niklaas (B), Kalloo (B), Zuiddorpe (NL) and Westdorpe (NL), Boekhoute (B) and Philippine (NL). Many members of the family were mayors in their respective villages and towns.


Tomb of Ferdinandus Gregorius van Haelst, son of Joannes Baptista and Dorothea Picavet (1755-1827), mayor of Verrebroeck (1798-1827)    


Eduardus Cuelenaere  

The ancestry of  Judoca Burm's mother, Maria Anna de Potter, leads us to Katelijne de Gavere (de Liederkerke), a well known noble family in the Flanders, and finaly to Charlemagne.

The initial research of the older generations of the family Van Haelst was done by Theophiel Antoon Gerard van der Gucht (1898 - 1974) fs Kamiel x Eugenia Coleta Ludovica van Haelst. His work was completed and edited by Albert Alexander Clement van Haelst, "1470 - 1970, Vijfhonderd Jaren der Familie Van Haelst / Van Aelst", uitgegeven in eigen beheer te Antwerpen omstreeks 1970. Since Albert van Haelst passed away in 1976 the genealogy has been continued by Dr. Guy van Haelst (° Leopoldsburg, 3-5-1936). This site is published by mr Thomas Victor Marie de Meijer, fs Hubert x Ophélie van Haelst.

Eduardus Cuelenaere, Burgemeester Philippine 1905-1918