A lot of Gimbrères live in the Netherlands. The family tree of these Gimbrères was mapped out for the first time in 1964, on the 125th anniversary of the Gimbrère company. Thirty years later, the tree was consi­de­ra­bly expanded by G.M. (Bob) Gimbrère. In an extensive correspondence with all his namesakes known to him, he charted the younger generations and also carried out the necessary follow-up investigations in France. For the Dutch Gimbrères, our database is largely based on his efforts. Bob Gimbrère’s docu­mentation was updated until 1996.

Jean François

All Gimbrères living in the Netherlands can be traced back to one common ancestor: Jean François Gimbrere. He was also registered as Johannes Franciscus, but who knows how he was addressed? He settled in Tilburg in 1838, but his future wife Adriana Rosiers remained, in every case administratively, in Antwerp. They married in Antwerp on October 23, 1839, in the presence of both his parents and her mother, the widow P.J. Rosiers. Jean François established an umbrella (“parapluie”) factory at Wilhelminapark. When he went looking for a place where he could better offer his umbrellas, sunshades and walking sticks, he found premises in Heuvelstraat, nowadays Heuvelstraat 11, in 1846. A few years later he bought two houses and a shed, with courtyards and a garden, to settle there permanently. On the shopfront of his building, he had two iron opened umbrellas attached as signboards. After the renovation in 1886, the umbrella was once again displayed above the front door as a signboard.

Jean François’ children
Gimbrere sewing room

All of Jean François’s sons from his marriage to Adriana Rosiers became umbrella manufacturers / traders. His eldest child, daughter Lucie, married an umbrella maker, Pierre Mas from France, who started making “rainscreens” in Amsterdam. Only his son Wilhelmus Franciscus, from his marriage to Maria den Oetelaar, sought another profession: he became an office clerk in Breda. The eldest son, Johannes Hendrikus (born 1843) became an umbrella maker in Leiden and The Hague. He probably did not work as an independent umbrella manufacturer. No advertisements for Gimbrere umbrellas in Leiden or The Hague can be found. There no longer seem to be any living descendants of him bearing the Gimbrere name. His brothers in Tilburg left much more traces. On the website of the Foundation for the Preservation of Tilburg’s Heritage the following can be found: “In 1869 Jean François Gimbrere retired from the company. His son Alexander (born 1847) continued the business of his father, later grandson Charles (born 1882).”  

The manual work was increasingly supported by machines, driven in 1909 by a gas engine, later by electricity. The factory grew to be the largest in Tilburg and exported many of its beautiful models to the Dutch East Indies.



The Gimbrères were also active with umbrellas outside of Tilburg. Leo (born 1881) had an umbrella company in Haar­lem, in a street that appeals to Dutch Monopoly players: the Barteljorisstraat.

Louis (born 1883) was an umbrella trader before he emigrated to the US in 1919. Hubert (born 1893) was an umbrella manufacturer in Deurne (B).

In 1951 it was over with the Fa. Guillaume Gimbrère: of the three grandchildren of Jean François who ran the company, the youngest, Guillaume, died. Older sister and brother, Cato and François, then decided to liquidate the company. The original company of Jean François, successively continued by son Alexander and grandson Johan, made a new start as an umbrella factory after the Second World War, but soon the sale of clothing – initially still rain gear – took over. Lucien and Gustave, sons of the departed Adrien, also held on in Tilburg for a long time. They founded the Paraplu­fabriek Holland in 1907. Brother Cyprien, co-partner, managed an umbrella shop in Amsterdam’s Kalver­straat. Only in 1957 did the last Gimbrère, Lucien, great-grandson of Jean François, leave the company. After that, the Gimbrères were no longer umbrella manufacturers.

Not just umbrellas

With the increasing number of descendants, other grandsons found their calling outside the umbrella trade. One of them, Jules J.M., becomes a doctor and director of the municipal medical and health service in Tilburg, but the most striking career is that of Emile G.J. Gimbrère, son of Alexander. We derive the following description from Wiki Midden-Brabant.

Emile Gimbrère

E.G.J. (Emilius) Gimbrère (1891-1949), from a well-known Tilburg entrepreneurial family, belonged to the first group of professors from the Rooms Katholieke Handels­hoo­ge­school (Roman Catholic Com-mercial College). He was rector magnificus (president and vice-chancellor) in 1931-1932, 1936-1937 and in the war years 1941-1945. Gimbrère studied law in Utrecht. As a professor, he was in­vol­ved in civil and commercial law and credit and banking matters. When he was appointed at the age of thirty-five, he already had great practical experience in banking in the former Dutch East Indies. He has been a lawyer and attorney in Padang since 1917, in 1918 he became secretary of the Nederlandsch Indische Handelsbank commercial bank in Batavia, sub-agent in 1919 and subsequently an agent of this bank in Surabaya. From 1923-1926 he was director of the head office there.

Gimbrère was more of a pragmatic than a scientist. His lectures on Indian affairs, such as the Japanese sugar industry (about which he also published), did, however, fascinate his students very much. In his report on the meetings of the Senate, according to university historian Bornewasser, he demonstrated literary taste and an ironic pen. He was an advocate of the synthesis between the economic and legal sciences. His speech on “Lawyer and economist” is the permanent proof of this.


At the end of the Second World War he handed over his vice-chancellorship to Cobbenhagen. On that occasion, he praised student resistance and proudly stated that during the war years 115 exams had been taken from students who had found the opportunity to continue their studies in their “hiding place”. He dwelled upon the hostage-taking of professors and vice-chancellors and the memory of the war victims. Finally, he called on the college community to “consciously cultivate a new spirit, create more accurate relationships in academic circles, and eradicate materialism and opportunism.”

Gimbrère was also a member of the civil service tribunal in Den Bosch, chairman of the Municipal Arbitration Tribunal for civil servants in Tilburg, member of the Government Mediation College, and commissioner and member of the Supervisory Board of the PNEM electricity company. Prof. Emile Gimbrère’s memory is still honoured in Tilburg with a street name.

Later generations

By now we are a few generations further. Gimbrères no longer make umbrellas and the fashion stores that resulted from Gimbrère N.V. will from 2019 largely be continued under a different name. Yet the name Gimbrère is still emphatically present in society. The most striking company on the internet is the law firm of Tjaard Gimbrère. Members of the family also practice a wide variety of professions, some of which stand out in publicity: an actor (Casper), a science journalist (Anna) and three (!) authors of children’s books (Gert, from Belgium; Danique and Armand). There are several doctors too, a kind of continuation of the surgeon tradition. It seems difficult to highlight one that is particularly worth mentioning, but we still risk it.

Sister Lucie Gimbrère
Detail: Utrechts psalter; www.utrechtpsalter.nl

Maria Anna Josephine Theresia Gimbrère is a great-granddaughter of Jean François Gimbrere. She is the oldest daughter of Camille Gimbrere, tobacco broker in Overveen. She entered a Benedictine monastery in 1951, the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe abbey of Oosterhout and took the name Sister Lucie. There she received training as a bookbinder and book restorer, initially for her own collection. From 1962 she also started working for external clients. From 1963 to 1996, Sister Lucie Gimbrère restored 446 books. Most of these books were very valuable manuscripts, incunabula and post-incunabula. An incunable or cradle print is a book that was printed between 1454 and 1501 with individual letters and thus “imitates” the handwritten book. A post-incunable is a book that was printed between 1501 and 1540, with the same basic technique as that of an incunable, but in which the first traces of a separate typography are already clearly visible. Some of the absolute showpieces of the Dutch collections went through her hands.

Sister Lucie always used the same principles, followed the French binding tradition and worked in the footsteps of the medieval bookbinder. She was guided by the book itself, by academic literature and the client, but not so much by restoration ethics for medieval books in the Netherlands. Moreover, she kept aloof from chemical experiments and modern techniques. The Weekblad Oosterhout adds: “If it was necessary to wash the paper, she did it just like her French predecessor in rainwater. She did not have one principle that applies to all restorations.

“Oh, yes, I have a general principle: do only the most necessary, as little as possible. That can mean that you have to do a terrible lot. ”It is precisely this approach that made her work a success. Because of her concern for history, the attention she gave to the smallest archaeological evidence and her method of careful documentation, Sister Lucie emerged as an important pioneer in the history of medieval book restoration in the Netherlands.

Over the years she also became more and more competent in paleography, the decoding of old writing. That sometimes came in handy, certainly when pieces of recycled manuscript surfaced when a book binding was released. One of those memorable finds was made in 1988 when she removed nineteenth-century cover sheets and three thick layers of glue from the Bavo Church’s fifteenth-century Bible from the collection of the Utrecht University library. Notes from the fifteenth century appeared. Among the valuable works she worked on was the “Utrecht Psalter”, which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

 For the Royal Library, she produced the famous Beatrijs manuscript. Sister Lucie masters Greek and Latin and liturgical texts form an essential part of her mental luggage, which gives her a natural advantage over other restorers. Her communicative properties also led to excellent relations with various university libraries. Unique, and highly valued, are her restoration reports, which provide a wealth of extra knowledge about the writings. Reports on all 446 books that went through her hands have meanwhile been donated to the Leiden University Library. She is recognized nationally and internationally among experts as the best restorer of medieval books and manuscripts that the post-war Netherlands have known. Requested to also teach outside the abbey, Sister Lucie refused steadily. She didn’t feel like stepping outside the safe walls. And of course, this pure form of ora et labora, the incipient patience of an angel who prefers not to travel worldly paths, deserves to be rewarded: she was appointed Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion in 2017.

The “youngest” generations
New Royal Harmony (1876) Top row left to right: third Henri Gimbrère, seventh Adriaan Gimbrère, third from right: Guillaume Gimbrère; Bottom row, seventh from left: Xander Gimbrère.

-For genealogical research of the later generations, we were largely dependent on the formerly mentioned Gimbrere Family tree. For privacy reasons, public sources are protected, although the internet sometimes offers relief. One conclusion seems, however, to be permissible: all Gimbrères now living are descendants of three sons of Jean François, the first two from his marriage to Adriana, the third from his marriage to Maria Antonia den Oetelaar:

    • Guillaume (* 1845)
    • Alexander (* 1847)
    • Wilhelmus (* 1873)

Of his sons Johannes Hendrikus (Henri) and Adrianus Cornelis, sons or grandsons were still found, but it seems that these did not have any male descendants. However, the above three have produced many offspring with their spouses. Below a vague photo of the Nieuwe Koninklijke Harmonie (New Royal Harmony) from 1876 from a memorial book of this society. The four oldest brothers performed in it.



Football club Willem II (1904), with Frans Gimbrere (*1884 – 1959), standing, 6th from left


In 2007, the Family Name Bank of the CBG (a genealogical society) counted 134 carriers of the name Gimbrere (with and without accent grave, roughly half and half), of which a quarter still lived in Breda and Tilburg. The others are spread over all provinces except Friesland and Flevoland. The Gimbrères have also fanned out to Belgium, France, England, the United States and Australia. They are all descendants of Jean François. The oldest Gimbrères who are still alive are great-grandchildren.


For those who want to know more about the experiences of the Gimbrères in Tilburg, we can refer to the Dutch Royal Library. This has an extensive newspaper archive available via the internet and publicity about the Gimbrères can be found there easily (https://delpher.nl/kranten). We found several reports about fires that assaulted the family premises (fortunately well insured), but especially about their activities in club life. The Gimbrères were active in music, football, the pigeon sport, billiards and skittles.