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Jan Claesz (John Claess in the English Martyrs Mirror), was an Anabaptist martyr, born at Alkmaar, and baptized by Menno Simons, for whom he rendered valuable service as a bookdealer. In Antwerp he had 600 copies of Menno Simons' books printed; 200 he sold in the province of Holland and the rest he shipped for distribution to Friesland. He was a Mennonite preacher in Amsterdam; in his house religious serv­ices were held. Betrayed by Reynier Willemsz, a follower of David Joris, he was imprisoned and on 19 January 1544, he was beheaded at Amsterdam with Lucas Lamberts van Beveren, surnamed Bestevaer. Van Braght presents six testaments made by him, three to his wife, one each to his children, to his "brethren and sisters according to the flesh," and "to his entire generation," which bear witness to his faithful brotherly love and the faith of the Mennonites of that period. This is also true of the brief, moving courageous confession given before his cruel execution. The Offer des Heeren contains a song written on the death of these two men (p. 65), beginning "Het waren twee gebroeders goet, seer lieffelijck van zeden." It is also found in the Ausbund of 1583 and following editions: "Es waren zwei Brüder gut, sehr lieblich auch von Sitten."


Dit Boec wort genoemt: Het Offer des Herren, om het inhout van sommighe opgheofferde kinderen Godts . . . N.p., 1570: 78-90.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, …, 1685: Part II, 66-70.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 468. Available online at:

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1864): 144-46; (1899): 77; (1903): 17; (1906): 56-73; (1909): 26 f.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam. 2 v. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: Nos. 257-59.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Jan Claesz (d. 1544)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 26 Apr 2017.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1957). Jan Claesz (d. 1544). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 April 2017, from

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Kitchener, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 71. All rights reserved.

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