Jonkheer (female equivalent: Jonkvrouw) is a Dutch honorific of nobility. Its best-known use among English-speaking people is as the root of the name of the city of Yonkers, New York.

Honorific of nobility

"Jonkheer" or "Jonkvrouw" is literally translated as "young lord" or "young lady", or "esquire". In medieval times such a person was a young and unmarried son or daughter of a high ranking knight or nobleman. However, in the low countries (and other parts of continental Europe) only the head of most noble families did and does carry a title and inheritability of it is via the male lineage. This resulted therefore that most of the nobility was and is nowadays untitled in the Netherlands and Belgium. "Jonkheer", or its female equivalent "jonkvrouw" developed therefore quite early into a different but general meaning, i.e. an honorific to show that someone does belong to the nobility, but does not possess a title. The abbreviation "jhr.", or "jkvr." for women, is placed in front of the name (preceding academic, but not state titles).

The honorific could be compared more or less with "Edler" in Austria or "Junker" in Germany - though due to circumstances of German and especially Prussian history, "Junker" assumed connotations of militarism absent from the Dutch equivalent. Comparing it with the English nobility, it entirely depends on the ranking of the person. It could be roughly translated into English as:
* "Sir" or "Dame", when the person is member of the new and untitled Dutch nobility (primary after 1815, lowest ranking, and most of nobility nowadays);
* "Sir" or "Dame", when the untitled person is a son or daughter of a hereditary knight or baron;
* "Lord" or "Lady", when the untitled person is a son or daughter of a viscount or count;
* "Lord" or "Lady", when the untitled person is member of the old (Dutch) nobility (from preceding 1815, "Heer van X" or Lord of X);

Sons or daughters of most (non-royal, noble) princes, dukes and marquesses in the low countries carry noble titles other than the honorific Jonkheer or Jonkvrouw.

The spouse of a jonkheer is not named Jonkvrouw but "Mevrouw". Translated into English this means "Madam", abbreviated as "Mrs." (with the use of her husband's name). However, if she is a jonkvrouw in her own right, she can be styled as such (together with her maiden name), unless she chooses to use the name of her husband.

Title of nobility

Although "jonkheer" is not an official Dutch title, as stated above, some families nevertheless use it as such, most notably the Royal Family with the title Jonkheer van Amsberg.

Often however these titles are not acceded by the modern monarchy, either because the family is registered as untitled nobility and may thus only use the honorific, or because the family has never requested to be registered but possesses a grant of nobility which predates the founding of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1815; the latter are often Habsburg in origin. These families use this title by means of courtesy and are often styled "Edler X" or "Junker X" instead of "Jonkheer". Some do not use the abbreviation, but instead use the form "Name edler/junker X". Others use the abbreviation Jkr. (Jkfr. for Junkfrau), placed in front of the name.


The coronet of rank for untitled nobility in the Netherlands is the same as that of a hereditary knight: a plain circlet of gold with eight pearls, five of which are seen in a representation, all on golden points.

Acceded titles use the same coronet of rank as hereditary knights, described above. Non-acceded titles can not officially use a coronet of rank and thus use the coronet that they have been historically awarded, if any at all.


Jonkheer's most well-known use among English-speaking people is as the root of the name of the city of Yonkers, New York. The word was likely a nickname, as opposed to an honorific, associated with Adriaen van der Donck; a young Dutch landowner in the New Netherlands. While his business ventures largely proved less than successful, the city of Yonkers takes its name from his legacy.

The word, in reference to van der Donck, is variously spelled among modern scholars. In Thomas F. O’Donnell’s introduction to a translation of van der Donck’s "A Description of the New Netherland," it is suggested that van der Donck was known as “The Joncker”, a corruption of the proper Dutch "“jonkheer”". Russell Shorto’s "The Island at the Center of the World" has “jonker”, while Edward Hagaman Hall’s book on Philipse Manor Hall uses “youncker”.

ee also

*New Netherlands
*Ridder (title)


*nl Jonkheer. "Wikipedia". 15 Dec 2005.
*cite book|author=Russell Shorto|title=The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America|year=2004|publisher=Random House|id=ISBN 1-4000-7867-9

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