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Clarichen (Clerqen, Clerchjchen, Klarken, Klaren), was the name used for the Old Flemish Mennonites in Prussia. In 1678 a confession appeared: Konfession . . . der Mennonisten in Preussen so man nennet die Clarichen. This name was unknown in the Netherlands; here they were usually called Dantziger Oude Vlamingen or Huiskoopers. The name Clerckschen is also found in some letters written by Jan van Hoek of Danzig to the Committee on Foreign Needs at Amsterdam in 1735-1737. H. G. Mannhardt supposes that the name is of Dutch origin and means klaar, that is, unambiguous. According to this explanation they are clear or unequivocal ones.

H. B. Hulshoff is of opinion that the word Klerk is related to the medieval Dutch word clerq, which was still in use in the 16th century and which meant a man who in the Catholic Church had received the lower ordinations and was therefore wearing black clothing. The plain Mennonites of the Old Flemish branch, he says, were also dressed in dark clothes, hence they were called Klerken, or in the Low German dialect Clarichen. But this explanation does not satisfy.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 160.

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:  v. I, Nos. 1620, 1622, 1632, 1646, 1664.

Hulshoff, Hendrik Christian. Bezoekreis van Hendrik Berents Hulshoff aan de Doopsgezinde gemeent. (Bijdragen En Mededeelingen Van Het Historisch Genootschap (gevestigd Te Utrecht): 59 Deel) Utrecht: Broekhoff N.V. v h Kemink en Zoon, 1938: 5, note 1.

Mannhardt, Herman G. Die Danziger Mennonitengemeinde: Ihre Entstehung Und Ihre Geschichte Von 1569-1919 : Denkschrift Zur Erinnerung an Das 350 Jährigie Bestehen Der Gemeinde Und an Die Jahrhundertfeier Unseres Kirchenbaus Am 14. September 1919. Danzig: Danziger Mennonitengemeinde, 1919: 46. Available in English translation as Mannhardt, H G, Mark Jantzen, and John D. Thiesen. The Danzig Mennonite Church: Its Origin and History from 1569-1919. North Newton, Kan: Bethel College, 2007.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Clarichen." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 May 2016.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1953). Clarichen. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2016, from

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 619. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.

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