Before I tell you something more about the Wautier family history, it is necessary to make some general comments.

My Wautier relatives (and ancestors) concentrate in the Waasland, a region in Oost-Vlaanderen (Belgium). They especially appear to have their roots in the villages of Eksaarde (once written Exaerde), Moerbeke and Wachtebeke. If you'd like to see some pictures of these villages and their surroundings, just click here.

But how does a family with clearly a french sounding surname (please note that Belgium both has a dutch speaking and a french speaking community, next to a german speaking region) end up in this rural flemish (and thus dutch speaking) region?

Belgium nowadays knows about 200 to 300 persons with the surname Wautier (albeit sometimes written Wauthier). The majority of these life in the provinces of Brabant, Namen and Henegouwen. Subsequently, it seemed logic that, one way or another, I should end up connecting my family heritage to one of these families (even more so when taking into account that I have records of family members writing their name as Wauthier, or even Wouthier). I can tell you now: forget it! My family history goes back to France, and my surname used to be written Wantier.

The history of the family Wautier of the Waasland goes back to the immigration of Ignace Wantier, son of Cornelis Wantier, also known as Cornil, and Marie Angelique Logez. Ignace was born in the village of Montigny-en-Gohelle, in the department Pas de Calais, France, supposedly on April 22th, 1770. He had at least 3 brothers, all born in Montigny-en-Gohelle: Dominique Joseph Wantier (born the 4th of September 1765), Augustin Joseph Wantier (born the 18th of January 1768) and Dominique Joseph Wantier (born the 30th of December 1773). Marie Angelique Logez, supposedly born in Billy Montigy, probabely was the second wife of Cornil, who was previously married to Marie Augustine Rymbaut. In France the name Wantier is also written Wantiez.

Ignace Wantier leaves Montigny-en-Gohelle, and settles in Eksaarde. He marries Petronella Van De Vyver (born in Eksaarde, around 1769, daughter of Francies Van De Vyver and Joanna Marie Van Duysse), on march 1st, 1798. The couple has at least four children: Dominicus Wantier, (born on the 9th of July 1798); Petrus Francies Wautier, (also known as Pieter Francies; born on the February 6th, 1800); Euphemia Wautier, (born in 1802); and Francisca Wautier, (born in either 1810, or 1819). You might have noticed the change in spelling of the name Wautier in this little list. The birth certificate of Dominicus clearly states his surname as Wantier, as does his fathers signature. Yet, when Ignace comes to declare the birth of his second son, Petrus Francies, to the officials in Eksaarde, the surname of the child is written down as Wautier on the birth certificate. Ignace again puts down Wantier in his signature. Form this point in time all newborns and their descendants are named Wautier. In addition, population count registers of the village of Eksaarde (1829, 1880, 1890) only mention the name Wautier, never Wantier.

We have no further data concerning Dominicus Wantier, Euphemia Wautier and Francisca Wautier. We will thus further focuss on Petrus Francies Wautier. The latter marries Rosalie Van den Brande, born in Sinaai on August 7th, 1800. The couple lived in Eksaarde in the Molenstraat and had at least 3 children: Carolus Wautier (born in Sinaai, August 3rd, 1829); Josephus Wautier (born in Eksaarde, February 7th, 1832); and Petrus Wautier (born in Eksaarde, June 13th, 1835; died in Moerbeke-Waas, March 20th, 1915).

Petrus Wautier marries Blondina Bracke (born in Lokeren, February 9th, 1839; died in Moerbeke-Waas, November 13th 1903; daugther of Domien Bracke and Genoveva Hillaert). The family has 11 children, all born in Eksaarde: Benoît Wautier, Adolf Wautier, Henri Wautier, Stephanie Wautier, Carolus-Ludovicus Wautier, Teophilus Wautier, Maria Coleta Wautier, Gustavus Wautier, Alphonsus Wautier, Mathilde Wautier, and Gustavus Wautier. The family lived, amongst others in the Molenstraat in Eksaarde, but moved to Moerbeke-Waas on December 3rd, 1886. I will not deal with all these children here (just have a look at the family tree), From this point in time, I'll focuss on my direct ancestry (just have a look at the family tree for more information), except of course for a few interesting comments along the way.

One of these interesting notes concerns Benoît Wautier. This person appears to be a bit of a mystery. Family "legends" tell us that Benoît, also known as "Benooi" or "Melooi", emigrated to The Netherlands, more specific to a little village called Koewacht. We also know that he was married with a certain Lenie. We have in our possession a funeral card of Benedictus Wouthier, born in Moerbeke on June 27th, 1862 and died in Koewacht on May 11th, 1935. Benedictus Wouthier was married to Marie Leonie De Dauw. Could it be that this is in fact Benoît? Nowadays, we know of two persons in The Netherlands called Wautier (in Koewacht and in Axel). We also know that a certain Benedictus Wautier (note the spelling!) has been listed as father of the bride on a wedding certificate dating from February 9th, 1921. Place of the wedding: Koewacht. The bride was named Augusta Marie Wautier, born the Moerbeke, daughter of Benedictus Wautier and Marie Leonie De Dauw. The plot thickens...

Yet another interesting fact comes from Gustavus Wautier (the second one, in the previous list). In every european family there are bound to be some family members that have made the big voyage across the Atlantic. Well, in mine this was Gustave Wautier and his family. Gustave Wautier, accompanied by his 14 year old son Leon, boarded the Melita in Antwerp on June 30th, 1926. He was destined for Quebec, Canada, where he arrived July 9th, 1926. He was destined to meet a friend, Mr. Adolphe Lammes, who lived in Inwood, Ontario.
In August of the same year, his wife, Augusta Wautier-Thys, joined him, together with their other son, Alphonse. They came over on the Minnedosa.

Let's put our attention to Carolus-Ludovicus Wautier, also known as Karel-Lodewijk or Charles-Louis. Carolus-Ludovicus was born the Eksaarde, on May 9th, 1870 and died the Moerbeke-Waas, on January 22th, 1924. He was married to Augusta Marie Eugenia Schatteman. The couple has 4 children (3 sons and a daughter). Their second son, Edgard Wautier was my grandfather. After the death of his wife, Carolus-Ludovicus marries Irma Van Overloop, and has 3 more children (3 sons).

Edgard Wautier (born in Moerbeke-Waas, November 8th, 1903; died in Lochristi, December 25th, 1973) leaves Moerbeke and settles in Lochristi, where he marries Amelia Braeckman. The couple has 2 children (a son and a daughter). Their son, Daniël Wautier marries Monique De Baere, and has one daughter: ME...

Finally, I would like to thank Mr. F. Theret for providing digital versions of the birth certificates of Ignace Wantier and his brothers. I would also like to thank Mr. W. D. van Moorten for providing valuable information with respect to Benedictus Wautier.

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