Nieuwenhuizen, Jan (1724-1806)
Jan Nieuwenhuizen (Nieuwenhuyzen) was a Mennonite preacher. He was born 4 September 1724 at Haarlem, and died 24 February 1806 at Monnikendam. He was the son of Maarten Nieuwenhuyzen. He trained to be a bookseller, then studied theology and became a minister, serving at Middelharnis 1758-1763, Aardenburg 1763-1771, and Monnikendam 1771-1806. He left a number of sermons and a treatise Over de voortrefjelijkheid der wijsheid.
Nieuwenhuizen is known as the founder of the Maatschappij tot Nut van 't Algemeen. This society, which he founded on 16 October 1784, had its seat in Edam until 1787 and in Amsterdam after that; it is based on Christian kindness and was planned and intended to promote the welfare of the public.
For a long time Nieuwenhuizen had been concerned with the sad state of the populace; he reflected on what measures might help the people out of their moral decline and improve their material lot. He came to the conclusion that earnest leadership and better instruction was the first essential. "In order to achieve what I considered necessary for my fatherland, nothing seemed more necessary than to form a society of true and upright friends of mankind, who would be willing to support my efforts through their cooperation and modest contribution." He talked his idea over with his son Martinus and found it favorably received by others, especially by his Mennonite colleague J. A. J. Hoekstra at Edam and the Lutheran pastor J. C. Loggers.
The society, usually known as "Het Nut," covers a wide scope. Although in some local sections the educational work degenerated into a sort of entertaining play (this happened in the early 19th century), the society has been of benefit, especially in creating libraries, savings banks, nursery schools, and vocational schools. In 1955 there were more than 300 local units, with about 40,000 members; their 2602 libraries contained over 250,000 books; there were 133 savings banks, 90 nursery schools, and more than 100 other schools and courses. Thus the work of Jan Nieuwenhuizen bore rich fruit.
Jan Nieuwenhuizen was married to Gezina (Geesje) Wynalda (1722-1787) of Haarlem. A collection of her poems, entitled Verzaameling van Zeede- en Stichtelijke Haarlemmerhout en Tuin Gezangen,was published in Haarlem in 1756 by her husband, who was still a bookseller in Haarlem.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1884): 45; (1887): 126; (1889): 115 f.
Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1907): 21-31 (with portrait).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 253 f.
Molhuysen, P. C. and P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek, 10 vols. Leiden, 1911-1937: v. II, 993.
Naamlijst der tegenwoordig in dienst zijnde predikanten der Mennoniten in de vereenigde Nederlanden. (Amsterdam, 1806): 70 f.
Wertz, N. C. Jan Nieuwenhuizen (address delivered at the general meeting of the Het Nut on 13 August 1806).
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 877-878. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Nieuwenhuizen, Jan (1724-1806)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 26 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N538273.html.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1957). Nieuwenhuizen, Jan (1724-1806). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/N538273.html.