van Heerden is a common Afrikaans surname. Although most van Heerdens are South African nationals, a number are also resident in Australia, Namibia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The clan has been prominently represented in every South African conflict - from the First Boer War to the Angolan bush war - and a number have served as distinguished scientists, authors, and statesmen.
The family proginater, Pieter Willemsz van Heerden, was born 10 December 1677 in the town Heerde in Gelderland, a province in the Netherlands. Unfortunately it is not possible to trace him or his ancestors in the Netherlands as the baptism records during the 17th century only reflected the name of the child and first name of the father. He arrived during 1701 in Cape Town. He was 20 years old and was employed as a soldier in the service of the Dutch East Indies Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC). He served his time with the company and became a Vryburger (Free Citizen). Pieter Willemsz quickly became Pieter Willem as he is referred to in all the documents of the time.
Pieter Willem settled on the farm Weltevreden, one of the first farmers In ’T Land van Waveren, Tulbagh. He lived there until his death in 1763, aged 86. On 18 September 1708, Pieter Willem married 17-year-old Magtilt van der Merwe, the daughter of Willem Schalkzoon van der Merwe and Elsie Cloete.
Pieter and Elsie had five sons: Willem (born c1709 – died 1769), Hendrik (born c1712 – died young), Jacob (born c 1715 – died young), Jacob (born c 1721 – died 1749), Petrus Johannes (born c1727 – died young). Jacob (c1721) married Anna Jordaan and only had one daughter when he died. The eldest son Willem (c1709) married Martha van der Merwe and they had nine sons and three daughters. They form the nine branches of the van Heerden family in South Africa. All the van Heerdens can trace their roots back to one of the nine sons.
- vanHeerden Street, Pretoria - named after Willem Schalk Jacobus van Heerden
- vanHeerden Street: Mokopane, Limpopo & Germiston Gauteng
- vanHeerden Road: Midrand, Gauteng & Johannesburg, Gauteng
- vanHeerdensrus, Limpopo
Notable van Heerden family members
- Alex van Heerden, Jazz musician
- Attie van Heerden, born 1898 former Olympian, rugby union, and rugby league footballer
- Chris van Heerden, boxer.
- Elrio van Heerden, Association (Soccer) footballer
- Ernst van Heerden, author.
- Harry van Heerden, politician and farmer.
- Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center.
- Etienne van Heerden, poet and novelist
- Johan van Heerden, Romanian rugby union player
- Kurt Johann van Heerden, Singer Kurt Darren
- Mariette Van Heerden, Zimbabwean discus thrower and shot putter
- Moaner van Heerden, former rugby player.
- Wikus van Heerden, South African rugby union footballer.
- Barend Isaac Jacobus van Heerden, Signatory of the Peace Treaty of Vereeniging. Founder of the town Koster.
- Jacobus Willem Schalk "Jack" van Heerden, (1938-2013) champion South African footballer and coach
- Jacobus Willem Schalk "Bill" van Heerden, author (Film and Television In-Jokes)
- Rarmus Elardus van Heerden, Pilot in North Africa during World War 2
- Emile Johan van Heerden, Lieutenant, Pilot in Europe during World War 2
- Anna Petronella van Heerden (1887–1975), the first Afrikaner woman to qualify as a medical doctor
- Hercules Christiaan van Heerden, President of the Senate of the Union of South Africa 1920 to 1929
- Jacobus Stephanus van Heerden, Founder of the SADF Army Combat School.
- Hendrik Johannes Otto van Heerden, Advocate in the legal team in the South West Africa case before the World Court
- Willem van Heerden, Director of AfrikaansePers and editor of the newspapers Vaderland and Dagbreek
- Jaun Vernon van Heerden II, 1996 - Professional Wakeboarder and Snowboarder - Aerospace Electronics Engineer
- Geslags register van die Familie van Heerden 1701 – 1968 (Dr.Petronella van Heerden 1969 A.A. van Balkema / Kaapstad)
- Die van Heerden Stamboom Projek 
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