Greiff, Cornelius de (1781-1863)
On the east wall of Krefeld there has stood since 22 August 1865, a simple monument: a commemorative column in classic form on a square base with bronze bas-reliefs of the goddess of benevolence, an allegory of the city of Krefeld, the coat-of-arms, and the inscription, "In memory of its benefactor, Mr. Cornelius de Greiff, born 8 June 1781, died 16 April 1863, by the grateful native city."
The man thus celebrated was simple, as is suggested by the cap on his head and the stately umbrella under his arm. The contribution he made to the city in unwavering benevolence and the unostentatious generosity of his deeply religious nature is shown by his will of 25 February 1857, which left for benevolent purposes and for the common good a sum hitherto unheard of in Germany: 466,000 talers; i.e., 120,000 talers for the hospital "founded by my mother"; 100,000 talers for a home for needy men and women over 65 years of age; 50,000 talers each for the Catholic and the Protestant orphanages; 50,000 talers for the care of the mentally ill, the blind, and the deaf; 50,000 talers for the support of 50 poor but deserving families having many children to support; 12,000 talers for another mortuary and the beautification of the new cemetery; 26,000 talers to erect a civic building. "I add, as a conclusion to what I have here signed: An Gottes Segen ist alles gelegen. May this blessing of the Father not be lacking for the goals striven after, and may much good proceed from them."
The significance of this bequest for a city of 52,700 needs no comment. But it was even surpassed when the niece and heiress of Cornelius de Greiff, Mrs. Marianne Rhodius, nee de Greiff, found her sole object in life in serving the needy and suffering. In her will, read on 2 November 1902, she supplemented her uncle's bequest with a legacy of 1,800,000 marks, calling the fund "the Cornelius de Greiff Support Fund."
The grandfather (Johann Philipp) of Cornelius de Greiff acquired citizenship in Krefeld in 1744; his father, Isaac de Greiff (1754-1826), married Anna Floh in 1780, and entered his father-in-law's business (Cornelius and Johannes Floh). As part owner of this important velvet mill he acquired a substantial fortune.
Since Cornelius de Greiff remained unmarried and his only brother, Johann Philipp (1786-1862, married to Marianne ter Meer), preceded him in death, he made his niece Marianne Rhodius, the daughter of his brother, his sole heir; she managed the estates carefully in the intention of her grandmother, nee Floh, as well as her aunt Marianne Jordans, nee Floh.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 170.
Mennonitische Blätter (1888): 124; (1904): 23.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 576-577. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Rembert, Karl. "Greiff, Cornelius de (1781-1863)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 20 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/greiff_cornelius_de_1781_1863.
APA style: Rembert, Karl. (1956). Greiff, Cornelius de (1781-1863). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/greiff_cornelius_de_1781_1863.