Clercq, Willem de (1795-1844)

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Willem der Clercq as pictured in his Dagboek. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Willem de Clercq, son of Gerrit de Clercq and Maria de Vos, was born 15 January 1795 at Amsterdam, and died there 4 February 1844. Though it was the original plan that he enter the Mennonite Seminary in Amsterdam to become a preacher, a combination of circumstances caused him to enter his father's business. Later he was made secretary and then director of the Netherlands Trading Company. In this capacity he established the important Dutch textile industry in Twente in 1833. With Bilderdijk, da Costa, Groen van Prinsterer, and others, he was one of the leaders of the well-known revival movement in Holland called the Reveil. Under their influence he no longer felt comfortable in the Mennonite Church, was dissatisfied with the sermons of Prof. Samuel Muller, also thought that infant baptism agreed with the Scriptures better than adult baptism, and in 1825 transferred to the Reformed Church. Of interest is his correspondence with Isaak Molenaar, the Mennonite preacher at Krefeld (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1911, 74-92; Menn.  Blätter, 1917, 74; 1918, 4 ff.), who vainly tried to prevent the step. After about 1831 he was under the influence of the noted Reveil-preacher, H. F. Kohlbrügge. In his Dagboek (Diary), published by Prof. Pierson, we can follow his religious development and the changes in his ideas step by step. De Clercq is especially well-known for his rare ability to improvise verse. The Dutch Royal Institute for Literature published his treatise, Verhandeling over de vraag: welken invloed heeft de vreemde letterkunde, inzonderheid de Italiaansche, Spaansche, Fransche en Duitsche gehad op de Nederlandsche taal en letterkunde sints het begin der 15. Eeuw tot op onze dagen (Amsterdam, 1824).


Bosscha, J. Willem de Clercq herdacht. The Hague, 1874.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1895): 112; (1897): 16 f., 47, 58, 66 f.; (1911): 74-92.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 361.

Lintum, C E. Willem De Clercq: De Mensch En Zijn Strijd. Utrecht: Kemink en Zoon, 1938.

Mennonitische Blätter (1917): 74; (1918): 4 ff.

Pierson, A.Willem De Clercq Naar Zijn Dagboek. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1888. Available in full electronic text at

Author(s) Jacob Loosjes
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Loosjes, Jacob. "Clercq, Willem de (1795-1844)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 29 Nov 2023.,_Willem_de_(1795-1844)&oldid=107322.

APA style

Loosjes, Jacob. (1953). Clercq, Willem de (1795-1844). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from,_Willem_de_(1795-1844)&oldid=107322.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 623. All rights reserved.

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