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Jan Geertsz (Geers, Gheerts, Gheertszoen, Gheertsen, Gerritsz, Gerritsen, and after his trade also Jan Ketelaer), was a Dutch Anabaptist martyr, a native of Delft, province of South Holland. He was a coppersmith living on the island of Texel, where he was baptized in 1559. His wife was able to visit him in prison at The Hague. On 15 December 1564, he was burned at the stake in The Hague. In 1566 a booklet appeared containing letters written by Maeyken Boosers and Jan Gerrits' testament to his brethren (he was evidently a preacher) and the first part of his letter to the "Lutheran pope." A copy of this very rare booklet is found in the Library of the University of Gent, Belgium. The second part was printed in the martyrbook of 1617, known as the Groot Martelaersboek. The booklet of 1566 was re­ printed in Het Offer des Heeren of 1570 with a letter "to his acquaintances" and a song about him, "Tis een periculose tijt" (It is a perilous time). He knew Latin. His letter to the Lutheran preacher is very rude in tone. His will reveals that he was married and his mother was still living. From prison he sent nutshells, spices, and cloves to be used in his memory. From his third letter it is seen that he was tortured in prison, that he attended school in Delft during the great fire there (3 May 1536), and that he owned a copy of Menno Simons' Van de nieuwe Creature, as well as of Dirk Philips' Van de geestelijke Restitution.

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Dit Boec wort genoemt: Het Offer des Herren, om het inhout van sommighe opgheofferde kinderen Godts . . . N.p., 1570, 393-410.

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, 317.

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: 680. Available online at:

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 83.

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, I, Nos. 407, 744 f.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965, 68.

Author(s) Karel Vos
Date Published

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Vos, Karel. "Jan Geertsz (d. 1564)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. . Web. 26 Apr 2017.

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Vos, Karel. (). Jan Geertsz (d. 1564). 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. 74. All rights reserved.

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