Bolsward (Friesland, Netherlands)

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Bolsward, a town in the Dutch province of Friesland (pop. 7,400 in 1947; about 10,000 in 2009), which has a Mennonite congregation, which presumably originated between 1537 and 1550. Perhaps its proximity to Witmarsum and Menno's preaching there led to its rise. Bolsward was the home of the martyr Frans Dammasz, who was burned at Leeuwarden on 28 March 1545. Between 1551 and 1565 Leenaert Bouwens baptized 68 persons in or near Bolsward. At the time of the dissension between the Flemish and the Frisians (1566-1567), he sided with Hoyte Renix, the noted elder who was banned by the Flemish and later united with the Young Frisians. Little is known of the history of the Mennonites of Bolsward. We know that in 1657 there were four Mennonite congregations in Bolsward, which had their own churches or meeting places. One of the congregations met in 1594 in a building on the Schilwijk (now Skilwyk), where the church was still standing in the 1950s. The other congregations worshiped on De Kampen, the Hoogstraat and Kerkstraat. One of these was probably a Janjacobsgezinden congregation. By 1710 all these congregations had merged into one. At this time the number of members not receiving charity (niet-gealimenteerde) was 130. The total membership in 1838 was 157; in 1898, 234; in 1952, 118; in 2006, 40. These members in the 1950s lived in part in Bolsward, where they were engaged in business, and in part in the villages around Bolsward, where they were engaged in farming.

Miss D. Mesdag, a former member, gave this congregation a bequest in the form of an endowment known as the Instelling van Weldadigheid der Doopsgezinde Gemeente van Bolsward, for the benefit chiefly of needy widows and older women.

In 1914 the first woman became a member of the church council. The congregation, a member of Ring Bolsward, in the 1950s had an organization of women and one of young people. The church was enlarged in 1850; in 1938 the congregation bought a new parsonage. In 1951 an old people's home was built. Preachers after 1788 included Siemon Menalda, 1788-1813; Joost Halbertsma, 1814-1821; G. Koopmans, 1821-1831; W. van Hülst, 1831-1858; H. A. van Gelder, 1858-1863; A. W. Huidekoper, 1864-1873; S. Kutsch Loyenga, 1871-1887; W. J. van Douwen, 1887-1892; J. Pottinga Hzn, 1893-1912; D. Kossen, 1913-1932; M. J. Kosters Gzn, 1933-1940; E. H. Boer, 1941-1946; M. A. Hylkema, 1947-1951; and after 1952 H. van Bilderbeek.

In 2009 the Bolsward congregation was part of the Doopsgezinde Gemeente Kustcombinatie which met in a number of locations. The minister was Carla J. M. Borgers.


Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Friesland. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff, 1839.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1901): 211.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 243.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: vj. I, Nos. 182, 607; II, Nos. 1568-1593.

Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis 11 (1914): 227 f.

Additional Information

Address: Skilwijk 29, 8701 KM, Bolsward, Netherlands

Website: [ Doopsgezinde Gemeente Kustcombinatie


Denominational Affiliation: Algemene Doopsgezinde Societeit


Map:Bolsward (Friesland)

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Bolsward (Friesland, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 Nov 2018.,_Netherlands)&oldid=110553.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1953). Bolsward (Friesland, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 November 2018, from,_Netherlands)&oldid=110553.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 384. All rights reserved.

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