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A family name among the Mennonites of Prussian background, Willms (Willems, Willm, Willmsen, Wilms, Willemsen, Wilhelm) is derived from the Dutch Christian name Willem (William). It is found in the church records of Danzig (1690), Tiegenhagen, Ladekopp, Rosenort, Fürstenwerder, Heubuden, Elbing, Montau-Gruppe, Schönsee, Tragheimerweide, and Kazun. From Danzig and Prussia the name spread to Russia and North and South America. The name is also found in the Netherlands but is not common among Mennonites there. In 1723 Albert Willems from Holland, with Alle Derks, visited the Prussian Mennonites. Among the Mennonites in Russia bearing the name were Peter Willms of Halbstadt, Molotschna, the owner of a starch factory, and Heinrich Willms of Halbstad, Molotschna, the owner of three large flour mills with an annual turnover of $500,000. H. J. Willms was in the administration of Concordia Hospital, Winnipeg.


Reimer, Gustav E. Die Familiennamen der westpreussischen Mennoniten. Weierhof, 1940: 120.

Schröder, H. H. Russlanddeutsche Friesen. Döllstadt, 1936: 99.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Willms family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 Apr 2017.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Willms family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 April 2017, from

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Kitchener, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 958. All rights reserved.

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