A History of the City of Ronse

ronse It is important when researching one’s family history to know something about the general history of where one’s family came from. Without this knowledge as background, conducting research into family history would be much like driving around in a strange city without a map. With this knowledge at hand it not only aides in the research effort, but it helps in giving us a better picture of whom our ancestors were and the times in which they lived. In fact to understand where the DeBacker family came from it is necessary to dig a little deeper into the social and political history of Flanders and go back even further than the time of Mary of Burgundy and the Great Privilege. One needs to go back to the time when the feudal institutions that had been created by the Carolingian dynasty of Charlemagne and his descendants were becoming obsolete.

In the late Middle Ages, western European society was made up of four classes of people: the Nobility, the Clergy, the Peasants, and a relatively new and emerging class called the Bourgeois. The fourth class was made of merchants and artisans who had separated themselves from the land and made their living dealing in cash and commodities. They lived in larger cities that had grown from scattered villages that become connected overtime. The name Bourgeois comes from ‘burg’, which refers to a fortified place such as a walled town. The Bourgeois were city dwellers who paid for the right of citizenship in the towns they occupied by purchasing charters from the nearby lord. With this also came the right of tradesmen to form guilds.

In the ‘Ancien Regime’ (before 1795), the inhabitants of a city, in order to obtain legal advantages, requested the ‘bourgeoisie’ (citizenship) of a city so that the city would give them protection. The citizens had to pay each year a certain amount and this would explain the opulence of some cities in Flanders. They were ‘bourgeois forains’. Forain means ‘outside’ in that they did not live in the city giving them the protection. Yet there were no ‘bourgeois’ of Renaix. The inhabitants of Renaix were mainly ‘bourgeois forains’ of Alost (Aalst), or Grammont (Geraardsbergen), sometimes of Bruges (Brugge).

Most of the history of Ronse as related below is translated from Recherches historiques sur la ville de Renaix by G.L.B. (Published by A.-I. Van der Schelden; Ghent, 1856)

Ancient History

In the Paleolithic era several hills in the Flemish Ardennes nearby Ronse were inhabited by humans. In and around the area are found traces of early human activity. During the Neolithic period the area around Ronse became a permanent settlement which was based on agriculture and animal husbandry. In 1836 and 1875 a number of burial mounds were discovered that date to the middle Bronze Age (ca. 2100-1200 BC.)

Ronse was a area occupied before and during the Roman period; its picturesque surroundings, with admirable sites, show still here and there on the slope of the mountains, traces. obvious of old agrarian limits. A hundred cemeteries have been found by Msr. Joly, several graves, thirty-four tumuli, or tombelles and a host of Gallo-Roman dwellings and even gutters  (kuilen), which are certainly the oldest human artifacts found in these areas.

The city of Ronse was definitely settled in Roman times. This is confirmed by fragments of a Roman building that were used as salvage materials the Romanesque arches of the St. Hermes Crypt. There are also Roman coins found at the Music Mountain and in the Bois Joly dating from the 2nd and 4th century AD.

The name of the city originates from the name of a nearby river, the Ronne. Variously the names given to the town were Rotnacum, Ronay, Ronse, and Renaix.

In the fifth century (442), Salian Franks invaded Belgium. Clovis, their leader, became master of Cambrai and Tournay; Ronse fell in its power with the rest of the country. Here starts the third period referred to as the Gallo-Empire or Merovignian period.

The territory of Ronse also provide a series of testimonies of the time of transition of art and Roman civilisation art and Empire civilization. Late Roman and Merovingian  gold coins; domestic pottery and funeral pottery, axes and various weapons; toilet objects and other glass or metal objects have been found.

Most cities have a common origin: a monastery rises in the middle of a wasteland country; some wandering and unfortunate families stop by at the civilizing voice of Christianity: Rustic cabins are soon built on the side of the monastery and little by little we see, the pious are sheltered around in villages, the towns and cities. Many cities of Belgium originated in this way; others include Saint-Amand, Saint-Ghislain and Saint-Hubert.

According to legend, the monastery of Peter and Paul built on the left bank of the Meulenbeke river was founded by Saint-Amand in the middle of the 7th century. Between 831 and 834 the city and the monastery were given by Louis the Pious to the Abbot of Ind (Cornelismünster, near Aix-la-Chapelle). The relics of St. Hermes came to Ronse during the ninth century. During that period the monks were forced to flee the city several times to avoid Viking raiders. The monastery was burned in 880 by the Normans. The relics of St. Hermes was recovered in 940 and placed in a Romanesque crypt in 1089. The church of Saint Hermes, which was later built was consecrated in 1129. Pilgrimage in honor of Saint Hermes, invoked for the healing of mental illness, supported the local economy. It is said today "Saint Hermes cures the mad and leaves the surrounding residents wealthy.?

These monks, we are talking about, and who later became canons, shared their time between the prayer, reading and manual work. Cultivating the land and making deserts to bloom. Nothing would stop them from bringing the gospel to a pagan peoples, and converting them to civilization.. At the same time they cultivated science and letters, and, by copying the manuscripts, they continued to chronicle the rich treasures of the Greeks and Romans. Classical literature, without them, would have died in the sinking of the ancient civilization.

We read in the Annals of the Abbey of St. Peter,( pg. 59): that Celestine, the  sixth abbot of the  monastery of Saint Peter of Mont Blandin-lez-Ghent, was exiled by Charles Martel. This holy saint that had been falsely accused of having favored the party of Ragefride [Ragenfrid], had pain to see its dispersed brothers and the Abbey property distributed to the said vassals. Charles Martel, by a low and unjust revenge, had the abbot Celestine finish his days at the monastery of St. Peter at Ronse where he died in 765.

At this time, most Belgium was under the domain of the Kings of Austrasia. After Charlemagne, become emperor, he gave a part of the income of the monastery of Ronse a Héridac for the support of missions beyond the Elbe in 810; so that Ronse contributed significantly in the 9th century, the great work of the spread of the faith among the inhabitants of the Denmark and Sweden.

The Feudal Period

The children of Louis the Pious, after several bloody wars partitioned Germany, France and Italy. The governors of the provinces, Dukes and counts, obtained, as a result of the weakening of the kings, a heredity power over their titles and home authority that until then they only had owned for life.

In all the second half of the ninth century, Flanders suffered from the continuing incursions of Normans, or inhabitants of the North of Denmark, Sweden and the Norway. The arrival of the Vikings was seen as punishment from God. The people, more often delivered themselves, defended their best, seeking to protect the objects of their religion against the desecration of the heathen. They had great reverence for relicts of their first apostles, and in the middle of their distress, they believed not have not lost everything when they could save these relicts.

In 880, the monastery at Ronse was all but destroyed by the Vikings, and the canons fled several times with the relics of the Saints to France and Germany.

In November of 1240 Gérard, sire of Waudripont granted privileges to the city of Ronses and  exempted citizens of Ronse from the seigneurial system. Also giving the people the right to marry without the permission of the Lord, and gave to the city of Ronse a contract which detailed conditions of this privilege. The copies of letters of said Gérard are retained in the archives of East Flanders.

We find in the work of Msr. de Saint-Genois (No. 388, pag. 118), that the Abbot and monks of Saint-Corneille de Yda (d’Inde) of the order of St. Benedict in the Diocese of Cologne had become deeply in debt and could no longer retain and manage their possessions in Flanders due to the distance and lack of jurisdiction over areas controlled by the lords of Flanders. So they sold to Guy, Count of Flanders and Namur their holdings which included Ronse (Rothnacum), Hoorebeke Saint-Corneille (Herembeke), Brade, Acrenne, Wodecq, Ellezel (Elchele), and the Diocese of Cambrai.

Yet History tells us that in 1280 the count of Flanders, Guy dit Dampierre bought from the abbot of Saint-Corneille d’Inde, Raynard of Ronse, only a portion of Ronse; because the other part was owned by the canons of St. Hermes through the donation of Louis the Pious. In 1293 he acquired the city. Ronse and the barony of Ronse formed an independent enclave in the Country of Aalst.

In 1289 Guy dit Dampierre gave to his third son, Guy de Richebourg, the city of Ronse as part of the realm of the County of Flanders; however this later instigated a war between the count of Flanders and the count of Hainaut over the question of whether the towns of Lessines, Flobecq and Ronse were within the jurisdiction of the Flanders or the Hainaut, so that these lands were called terres de débat. In 1333, an agreement was concluded between the two sides in which it was stipulated that Lessines and Flobecq would now be part of the County of Hainaut and Ronse would remain in Flanders.

From 1250 Ronse had a rise of industry and from the 13th century was a center of cloth manufacturing by a privilege granted by Jan I of Brabant.

In 1358, Robert, Count of Namur, was Lord of Ronse: He was the son of Louis, count of Flanders and the nephew of Robert, son of Guy dit Dampierre son.

In 1404, Jean de la Hamaide who was the lord of Ronse swore fealty to John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and count of Flanders, and became the Baron of Ronse on this condition. He was killed, 25 October 1415, the battle of Agincourt. He left a son named Arnould succeeded him.

In 1426, Philip the Good, count of Flanders [and Duke of Burgandy], allowed Jacques, son of Arnould to postpone his tribute until his majority, which took place in 1429. He [Jacques] had for successor son Arnould, who died without posterity in 1484. In that same year, Michel de la Hamaide requested of Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as guardian of her son, Philippe-le-beau that her son obtained the barony.

In 1485, John Dottinghen, who had married Isabelle de la Hamaide, lent tribute to the Archduke Maximilian. After the death of her husband, Isabelle made tribute to Charles V, Emperor and count of Flanders, and continued to administer as Lady Baroness of Ronse, Baroness until 1516.

In 1526, William Van Roggendorf, Lord of Condé, who had married the daughter of John Dottinghen and Isabelle de la Hamaide, left the seigneury of Ronse to his son, Christophe; but the sale of this seigneury was given over to the Grand Council of Mechelen on 23 October 1549 so that the seigneury of the city would be sold at fair market value and hence the seigneury acquisition was made by the Seigneur de Granvelle Nicolas Perrenot.

Frédéric Perrenot, fifth son of Nicholas and his wife Nicole Bonvalot (d. 1570), obtained the barony of Ronse. He was Governor of Antwerp in 1571 and 1577, Consul of State and the chief of finances in the Netherlands in 1587 and 1591. He married Constance Berchem and had by this marriage a daughter, Hélène Perrenot de Granvelle who became Baroness of Ronse. Emmanuel Philibert De Baume, count of Saint-Amour married the only daughter of Frederic Perrenot and died 28 June 1622.

On 9 March, 1630, Jacques-Nicolas, who succeeded his father sold his seigneury to John, count of Nassau-Dillenbourg-Pavillion, Marquis de Cavelly in Piedmont, a relative of the King of Spain through marriage. The count is said to have arrived in Ronse with his lady on 19 April 1630. Ronse magistrates and city notables went to the city limits to meet the Count. When the Count arrived in town, the sound of the large bell of the Collegiate Church (St. Hermes) rang out around six in the evening and he was greeted by the Prevost, the Dean and the Treasurer of the canon chapter. The next day, which was a Sunday, Count Jean witnessed the procession and the grand mass at Saint Hermès, in a place reserved for the choir, where he was introduced to the Prevost and the Dean. Count John became a colonel in the service of the Emperor, a gentlemen in the house of the emperors Rudolph and Ferdinand, and a Knight in the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Count John of Nassau had married Ernestine, princess of the line, daughter of Lamoral Charles Henry, first Prince of the line. He left a son, Jean-François-Désiré, who succeeded his father and two daughters, Ernestine and Claire-Marie. Count John built in Ronse a beautiful castle, that he saw barely complete, and he died in 1638 at age 55. Ernestine, his wife and Lady of Ronse, died in Brussels in 1663. His son, Jean-François-Désiré, count of Nassau-Siegen, etc., made his entry into Ronse as Baron on 8 August 1663. He was tied to the service of Spain, was successively the Governor of Luxembourg, and then of the Duchy of Limburg, the Spanish Netherlands, and Knight of the Golden Fleece. In 1654, the Emperor Ferdinand III created him a Prince of the Holy Roman Empire. He died at Roermond, 17 December 1699 at the age of 73 and was buried in the Church of Minimes at Louvain as well as his third wife Isabelle-Claire-Eugénie de Montant ou De la Croix, Countess of la Serre etc, who died in Ronse 19 October 1714, at the age of 63. They wanted to be buried one and the other in a special devotion which they had to Saint Francis de Paule.

William-Hyacinthe, son of Jean-François Désiré and his second wife, Marie-Eleonore-Sophie, daughter of Herman Fortuné, Marquis of  Baden, had entered Ronse around 1700 and succeeded his father. He became the eldest at that time of the second branch of the House of Nassau.

We read on page 255 of the Canons of St. Hermès that Prince Alexis obtained this illustrious domain from an act of donation, dated 2 September 1681, and that he came from Roermond and received the city of Ronse on 8 September 1681.

In 1737, Emmanuel, Prince of Nassau-Siegen was Lord of Ronse and in 1745 Princess Joan gave the lordship and barony of Ronse to the Count of Mérode and Marquis de Westerloo.

The Best of Times & the Worst of Times

Ronse was commune and had both its lordship and its franchise, three authorities and each had its rights, its customs, its privileges, as we can see in our code (Costumenan van Ronsse), Emperor Charles V confirmed on 22 December 1552. Our city, having been a part of the empire, obtained for its coat of arms the Eagle of the House of Austria (the double-headed eagle).

Ronse was in the 15th and 16th century, as before that time, a very-thriving city. The chief industry was textiles and it was the home of many weavers and launderers. Its looms of wool had the highest income after the three main cities of Flanders.

Jean I, Duke of Lothier and Brabant gave, in a year 1263,  to the weavers of Ronse a place in the Hall of Leuven and granted the city exemption from all charges and taxes.

Philippe Auguste, King of France, granted the privileges to the citizens of Renaix in 1273 for services rendered by them to her Majesty, in his camp near Lille.

The same benefits as above were granted to the bourgeois of Ronse in 1533, by Charles, Duke of Gelderland; and a few years earlier the same concession had been made in their favor by Florent, count of Holland, and by Frederick, Archbishop of Utrecht, and by Georges in 1551, Archbishop of the aforementioned city.

In 1569, the continuing problems caused by the iconoclasts and Calvinists (de geuzen) and new taxes imposed by the Duke of Alba, many of our weavers and our foulons left the city to go in foreign countries especially in England.

The history of these times tells us that the excesses of the iconoclasts were unfortunately only too real and troubles of Flanders caused by their heretical preachers was followed by the plundering of our churches. These fanatics, who is were first held hidden in the woods surrounding Ronse invaded the city on 19 August 1566 and destroyed the altars and the statues of saints in the Collegiate Church of Saint Hermès. Yet the magistrates of Ronse defended the city and  the sectarians were forced to give up the books, the chalices and ornaments of the  canons that they had seized.

What little defenses Ronse had were destroyed by troops sent by Alexander Farnese, Prince of Parma after the taking of Oudenaarde in 1582.

The city of Ronse has been ruined by four terrible fires. On March 26, 1478 French forces sacked  the town and was burned it to the ground. The city recovered quickly from the attack as the textile industry flourished.

In 1518 on the Friday following Trinity Sunday, a terrible fire arose and more than 700 houses became engulfed in flames.

In 1559 (July 21) almost all the city houses, three churches and two monasteries were destroyed by fire. The fire was so great that even the bells in the towers of St Peter and St. Martin we destroyed and only eight houses were left standing. During this fire the monks evacuated the city and the Church of Saint Hermes closed.

A fourth fire (31 March 1719) reduced to ashes 330 houses, almost all the parish of St. Martin. The fire started in the home of Adrian Camphyn, around the four in the afternoon and was pushed with such violence in different directions and claimed ten victims including Msr. Jean-François Van Hove the mayor who was buried under the ruins of his house. The fire stopped, at the corner of a brewery called Het Schip the alley of Saint Cornelius (No. 130).

On March 31, 1719, during the Austrian period, the city was completely destroyed once again by fire, but was quickly restored primarily due to its importance in the textile industry.

For the previous fires the Emperor Charles V and his son Philip granted the inhabitants of Ronse a discharge of all taxes or subsidies for several years in consideration of the losses they had incurred as a result of these different fire.

On 23 May 1552 at midnight, as a result of a dreadful storm that broke out on the city and surrounding area, a great flood took place in the plain; the Molenbeke river came out of its banks and threatened the homes located near the River: indeed the stone bridge and the houses that were there were destroyed in the torrent.

Ronse, already so many times experienced as we have to say, by four fires, a flood, and the iconoclasts of the 16th century experienced in 1635/36 a new event not less terrible than the previous ones, the plague came and killed of 80% of the population of the place and made the city almost a desert!

Note, in passing, that the small town of Ronse, so much proven at different times, knew, by the tireless activity of its inhabitants, by its industry and its trade to be reborn every time from the ashes and resume his rank among the cities! Its inhabitants taking advantage of the times of peace under the Archdukes were up and running in happier days during the century and a half that followed the days of mourning, we have described. Archduchess Marie-Thérèse, known for her virtues and high wisdom, had barely closed her eyes (29 November 1780) when the horizon darkened as her son Joseph II wanted to change everything. Eventually all was downhill.

The Modern Era

At the beginning of the 17th century Ronse took advantage of the relative peaceful period under Ferdinand and Isabella. During this period, beginning in 1629, one of the largest castles in the Netherlands was built in Ronse for Jan VIII of Nassau-Siegen, Baron of Ronse. From 1680 to 1700, Ronse was annexed to France, despite the opposition of the Spanish king.

In 1789, when the Brabançonne Revolution broke out, Ronse had also her voluntary Patriots. Three companies were raised at private expense, and a fourth was dressed at the expense of the city. They had two large calibre artillery pieces (dry-ponders).

Our Patriots, who were trained in secret in the handling of weapons, were perfectly equipped, as we have just said. They stood ready to fly anywhere where the danger called to go fight – pro aris et focis! After a few trips, a few steps and counter-marches, our Patriots quietly won their laurels.

Emperor Joseph died 20 February 1790. He had for successor his brother Leopold II, Duke of Tuscany, who was crowned Emperor on 9 October 1790. All returned to stability when Leopold restored order and vowed to restore to the people that which his brother had trodden underfoot. The Emperor Leopold died in Vienna on 1 March 1792.

Francis II, his son, ascended to the imperial throne on March 3 of the same year. At the time where progress was being made every day the French Revolution had already spread the alarm in the largest part of Europe. The hostilities began soon in Belgium and the French took of our country, after the battle of Jemmapes and the following year after their defeat at Neerwind.

Young emperor Francis II lead, himself, the next campaign, and troops showed much valor, but the victory won by the French army in the plains of Fleurus, was a decisive case for the fate of Belgium and this assured the conquest of our beautiful provinces to the French Republic, which imposed its laws and its organization political (26 June 1794).

From the beginning of the year 1796, the Ancien Régime was suppressed. The city was made into a municipality and its members were forced to perform their duties. As the revolution progressed, little was left in the parish churches and on 12 November of the following year the churches were closed!

The annexation by France in 1795 brought an end the administrative and judicial diversity in Ronse. Ronse was during this period faced with major expropriations and the city was soon in financial difficulty. In 1796, the old city administration dissolved to make way for the French legislation which continued to the fall of the Napoleonic Empire in 1815 when Belgium was annexed by the Netherlands. When French rule was lifted the barony and castle of Ronse sold. From then the castle fell into ruins until 1823 when it was demolished.

Late in 1797, the crucifixes and the saints statues from the churches were placed on the street corners and were ruthlessly destroyed by the gendarmes of the revolution.

On 2 January 1798, the churches of St. Peter and St. Martin  were put up for public auction.

On the tenth of January in that same year, Msr. Detienne, parish priest of St. Martin, its two vicars and two vicars of  St. Peter were condemned by the courts in Oudenaarde to a fine of 500 pounds and three months in prison, because these gentlemen had celebrated the Holy Mass on 4 June 1797, without previously having what they called the submission!

On the first of November, the bells of the three churches were removed from their towers, who had resisted the blows of the French soldiers and a few others who joined them. These same French Republicans that were, according to their manifests as allies and brothers had exercised, the eve of Toussaint, a sacrilége in the Collegiate Church of St. Hermès against the statues of the Apostles, the confessional, the relicts of Saint Croix and those of Saint Roch and Saint Charles Borromeo. As to the consecrated host found in the tabernacle, it is disgusting to a Christian to write of the way in which they were desecrated…

On the eighth of November, two bells of St. Peter, two of St. Hermès, and three of St. Martin, were loaded on to wagons and taken away to Ghent.

The chapel of the Saint Eloi Hospital was transformed into a temple of the goddess of Reason. The pulpit at Saint Hermes was taken over by a group called the  “Day of the Decades” and from the pulpit these radicals recited sermons filled with civic absurdities. O tempora, O Mores!

It is towards the end of this year that the military conscription was established in Belgium. The opposition of the priests and other disturbances, which took place in Ronse on this occasion, attracted the French army to the city who upon entering bayoneted all those they found in the streets. Ronse fortunately escaped looting and its archives were saved by the dedication of Msr. Fostier, justice of the peace and P. A. Battaille, the city Secretary,  but many families wept for those who were massacred in Oudenaarde.

During a two day interval (3 and 5 December 1798) two former public servants and eight bourgeois belonging to honorable families of the city were arrested. The first two were sent to Paris and after six months in prison, they were released. The eight bourgeois arrested December 5, were sent to Ghent, where they were housed in the city jail for twenty days.  There were many hostages, as they were called then, or political prisoners that the Directory locked up in the prison.

At the same time priests who had not taken an oath against the Ancien Régime, and there was a large number of them, not only could not preach in public, as we have already said, but they also could not show themselves in the streets, unless in disguise, for fear of being arrested and deported if found. They celebrated mass in safe houses having with great precautions to avoid discovery.  It was under the cover of night and always in disguise, that they administered the sacraments. Their parishioners were known as good Catholics, who would find their spiritual needs. Ronse also had its confessors of the faith.

On 9 September 1798, the Vandeputte sisters and their brother, a parish priest of Nukerke, were arrested and taken to Ghent.

On the first of December, Msr. Stalens, who was curé of Poucques for twenty-three years and Msr. Van der Eecken, priest, all two infirm, were arrested and taken by way of Oudenaarde and Ghent to Valenciennes, where they had to bear a relatively long captivity.

On 25 December, they arrested Messrs Van Hove, chaplain-Treasurer of the Collegiate Church of Saint Hermès, Wallez, the Abbot of St. Peter of Ghent, Fransman and Magherman,  vicars of Saint Peter, and Msr. Torsin, vicar of Saint Martin. All five were transported overnight to Ghent and taken to the prison at Ile d’Oleron.

We have before us letters one of the deportees, Mr. Van Hove, abbot, wrote to his family during his exile; but our pen refuses to reproduce all the insults that these gentlemen belonging to such noble families had to suffer at the hands of officers by the tyrants of the Directory in the hunt for priests

Towards the end of this year December 26, 1799 (5 Nivôse an VIII) Bonaparte sought to impose his authority and as an act of justice to the citizens of Ronse who were arrested and transported to the Ile d’Oleron on December 25 were all returned within their families February 12, 1800. On July 15, 1801 an arrangement [Concordat of 1801] was concluded between Pope Pius VII and Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul and solemnly proclaimed in France April 28, 1802.

The parish church S Peter and S Martin, in which no one had said Mass since the month of September 1797, a service was celebrated there on 15 and May 16, 1802 in a Mass of thanksgiving  by two venerable pastors had remained at their posts during the revolutionary turmoil.

-Ronse, which had formerly belonged to the diocese Chambray, and since 1559 the Archdiocese of Mechelen,  became part (as a result of the new district) of the Diocese of Ghent in 1801.

In 1840, within the newly created Kingdom of Belgium, more than 55% of residents were dependent on the textile industry. The boom in the textile industry led to a growing population and prosperity. But a few years later, this dependence by the increased mechanization brought a deep economic crisis. Many residents left the city for Northern France (Lille-Roubaix-Tourcoing) seeking work in the textile industry. From the 1870s, the textile industry flourished despite a temporary slowdown during World War I.

Genealogical Sources

According to two Wikipedia articles on Ronse written in French and Dutch and a GeneWiki article at Geneanet written in French, most, if not all, of the information regarding the DeBacker and associated families come from the following sources:

  • Acts of civil status from 1795 until the late nineteenth century with ten tables in the form of microfilm. These acts are written in French or Dutch depending on the time.
  • Parish registers prior to 1796 with an alphabetical index (no affiliation) in cumulative modern in the form of photocopies. These registers are written in Latin.

The parish registers in Ronse:

  • Saint-Pierre: baptisms: 1595 (gap from 1619 to 1623), Marriage: 1610 (ditto), burial: 1631 (gap of 1633 to 1651) Saint-Martin: Baptism: 1587, marriages: 1587, Burial: 1632 Saint-Hermès : baptisms: 1670-1718, Marriages: 1673-1704, burials: 1669-1769. The records of St. Hermes, comprising at most a few dozen documents per year, have not been indexed.

In support and in addition to the parish registers, it is best to consult primarily acts of succession and guardianship (the "state property", "staten van goed" in Dutch) brought before the aldermen of Ronse until 1795 . These acts are available in microfilm (for the oldest) or originals. The genealogical information contained in these documents were analyzed in 1878-1879 by Captain van den Bemden who has transcribed in the form of small schemes (State Archive in Ronse, Inventory No. 110, No. 2027). This document was typed by Georges H. Hooreman in 1937. This book is available in open access in the reading room of the Archives of the State Ronse and was distributed to the main Belgian genealogical association. An index onomastics – meeting in a few "statements of property recovered since then – was produced by the Archives in 1988 (EAR, Schedule No. 110a).

  • Many of the settlers in Ronse came from Aolst (Aalst) or Grammont (Geraardsbergen). The list of bourgeois forains of Alost residing in Ronse, was transcribed by George Hooreman and published in The Medium of Genealogists in 1963/64.
  • The archives of the Anciens Regime has been detailed in several inventories, including an index onomastics, by Herman van Isterdael (Stad en Baronie Ronse, "AER, inventory No. 110) and Guy Gadeyne (Kapittelkerk in parochiekerken van Ronse).
  • The State Archives in Ronse have a complete collection of the "Annales".
  • Annals 1956, 1973 and 1974 on the "sign manual" of the inhabitants of Ronse in the sixteenth century and the seventeenth century, and Paul Brouwers Yvo van Butsele,
  • Annals 1961 on fire Ronse of 1719, with the list of victims and the exact location of their homes, by Henri Bockstal,
  • Annals 1967 and 1968 conscripts Renaisiens under imperial eagles, and reformed, by Laurent Wasseuil,
  • Annals 1964, 1968 and 1975 on Renaisiens at the University of Louvain, Jacques and Marc Deconinck described
  • Annals 1975 on the identification of revolts of Ronse around 1600, by Paul van Butsele,
  • Annals of the inhabitants of Ronse in 1567 and the victims of the Spanish Inquisition, by Colonel Albert and Jacques de Lannoy Deconinck,
  • Annals 1991 on many people in Ronse mentioned in the charter granted to Ronse 1637, by Paul van Butsele,
  • Annals 1994 on the genealogy of the family Fostier, completed and decorated with coats of arms, by Eric Devos, and many other items still: an index of all articles published figure in the annals in 2001.

There are several families of Ronse who flourished at the end of the 16th century up until in the 18th century. These are families that Joseph Jacquart, a renowned Belgian genealogist, named as the "stem families" of  Ronse. There are roughly about a hundred surnames in Jacquart?s list. Some of these family names appear once or more times in the lineage of Vital DeBacker and Hortence DeDonder. The number plus signs (+) beside the name indicates the frequency by which these names appear in the lineages of long time residences of Ronse: Aelvoet (+), Backauw (+), Bauwens, Callewaert (+), Camphin, Cauterman (++), Debacker, Debrakeler, Declercq (++), Dedonder, Dejonghe (++), Delcoigne (++), Delfosse (++), Derodere (+), Desmet (++), Devos (+), Dewadripont (+), Haustraete (++), Pot (+), Tranoy, Vancoppenolle (+++), Vandendaele (++), Vanderdonckt (++), Vandevelde (+) (See Progenitors of my DeBacker Line)