What is a ‘Poorter?



‘Poorter’ is another word for Burgher, also originally a Dutch word, meaning Citizen. The term is mostly applied to citizens of a City(-State). It was in popular use from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.


To become a registered citizen, - a Poorter - , one needed money, because a rather steep fee had to be paid upon registration. Therefore, to be a Poorter meant that one had a certain status.


Trades people, such as Gold and Silver Smiths, Brewers, Bakers, Builders were required by their Trade Guild to be Poorters. The Guild ensured in this manner that their trade was protected from competition from non-registered and non-resident tradesmen. The Guild also endeavoured in this way to enforce a good standard of professional quality.


Therefore, Poortership (Poorterschap) endowed both additional rights and duties.


Poortership, once gained, was inheritable from father to all sons.