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I'm looking for a Royal Decree

At the Nationaal Archief you can find the Royal Decrees in the archives of the Secretary of State to King William I (1813-1840) and in the archives of the King's/Queen's Cabinet (1841-1988). These archives are what is known as the verbaal archives and are ordered chronologically according to the date of the decree. The records leading up to the decree are also filed according to the date of the decree. By each date you will find the decrees ordered by serial number. Records that did not lead to a decree being issued can either be found by the date and the number of receipt, known as the exhibit number, or, in cases where there was an official reply, together with the outgoing letter.

How do I proceed?

You can find the Royal Decrees from 1813 to 1840 in the archives of the State Secretary to King William I (1813-1840), catalogue reference 2.02.01. You can find the decrees from 1840 onwards in the archives of the King's/Queen's Cabinet. The table below gives the catalogue reference for each period.

Archives of the King's/Queen's Cabinet

PeriodCatalogue reference
1841-18972.02.04
1898-19452.02.14
1946-19752.02.20
1976-19882.02.30

If you know the date and the serial number of the Royal Decree you are looking for, you can search the verbaal archives for the inventory number that includes this date. Under this inventory number, you can then use the serial number to find the relevant decree.

Date and serial number unknown

If you don't know the date or the serial number, there are a number of different aids available: the indexes of names, the indexes, the tables of contents, the headings lists and the calendars.
If you know the year in which the decree was issued, you can ask for the index for that year. If you do not know the exact year, you will have to go through the indexes from several years.
Use key words to look things up in the index. These could be the names of individuals, places or cases. There will be a number after the key word you have chosen. This is the page number of the index. On this page of the index you will find a description of the exchanged correspondence and of a Royal Decree which mentions the name, place or case you are looking for. In front of the decree you will see the date and serial number. You can then use this date and serial number to find the inventory number where you can find the decree.
The description in the index may contain references to other pages in the index or to indexes from other years. On these pages you will find the same decree listed under a different topic; but sometimes there will be other decrees relating to the same case.

Looking for classified decrees

The so-called classified decrees (geheime besluiten) are arranged in a separate series in each archive. These are records relating to cases considered at the time to be sensitive. Searching through the classified decrees works in the same way as in the regular verbaal archives. The decrees have no day number, however, but a yearly designation consisting of a letter and a numeral. Separate indexes have been compiled for the series of classified decrees.

Example

You are looking for the Royal Decree from 1835 in which M. van der Ham was decorated for bravery for saving the crew of the ship The Tasmania.
The year 1835 indicates that you should look in the archive of the State Secretary to William I (catalogue reference 2.02.01). You then look for the index of names and the index for the year 1835. N.B.: These records are available on microfilm and can be viewed in the reading room.
In the index you look for the key word 'Ham' or 'Tasmania'. We recommend that you do not look for abstract terms such as 'shipping' or 'bravery'. You will see that the consent was entered under both ‘Ham’ and ‘Tasmania’ and refers to page 3254 of the index.
At the top of page 3254 of the index for the year 1835 you will see that Mr Van der Ham's act of rescue and his reward are listed under the following heading: Bravery and rewards. The registration itself has three entries. At the bottom, under 8 May number 37, is the Royal Decree. In the inventory you then look up the inventory number that contains the records for 8 May 1835. This is inventory number 4025. This record is not available on microfilm so you will have to do a computer request.
You request the relevant record, and under serial number 37 you will find the decree, the report from the Ministry of the Interior, and another report from the chancellor of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

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