Cramer, Alle Meenderts (1805-1894)

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Alle Meenderts Cramer was a Dutch Mennonite preacher and historian, born 25 March 1805, at Norden, East Friesland, Germany, and died 14 December 1894 at Haarlem. He was the son of Meendert Alle Cramer and Geertje Cremer, both parents being of old Mennonite families. One of his ancestors fled from Antwerp because of his faith and settled in Norden and set up a mercantile establishment there. Alle Meenderts Cramer attended the German school in Norden. He was permitted to use the German language when he took the entrance examination in Amsterdam in 1828. As a student he made a highly favorable impression on his two professors, W. Cnoop Koopmans and Samuel Muller. He married Muller's daughter Elisabeth; the marriage lasted 45 years and was a happy one. To them were born nine children; one of the sons, Samuel Cramer, became professor at the Mennonite seminary in Amsterdam, while another, Hendrik, distinguished himself as the captain of a ship in a Dutch shipping company.

In 1829 Alle entered the preaching service in the Huizinge in the Dutch province of Groningen, now Middelstum, and in 1832 he accepted a call to Middelburg, which was at that time combined with Vlissingen. In 1849 his health made it necessary to have an assistant appointed, and later Klaas Rutger Pekelharing was made his colleague. They worked together until 1871, when Cramer retired. He lived in Lochern until 1890, and then in Haarlem, where he died in his 90th year.

Though his career was not externally particularly rich or brilliant, it was inwardly rich and beautiful. All who knew him agreed that he was a simple, modest, friendly and kindly person; as a preacher he did not make a striking impression, for his manner lacked oratory and figurative language. But his sermons were always logically developed, even when they dealt with emotional subjects. This economy of language, however, had its charms. "The Gospel does not require ornamentation," he was accustomed to say.

Partisanship was foreign to him; he preferred to call himself a follower of simple Biblical Christianity. He had an open mind for modern theology, but he also had his doubts about it. He collaborated with J. Boeke in a reply to J. Halbertsma, who in his book De Doopsgezinden en hunne herkomst (Deventer, 1843) pleaded for a liberal philosophy instead of Biblical theology. In his scholarly work he was frequently occupied with matters of dogma, but his strength lay first of all in his historical studies, as is shown in his published works. He is the author of Het leven en de verrigtingen van Menno Simons (Amsterdam, 1837) and of a biography of David Joris, which was published in parts V and VI of the Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis. Though these books are now antiquated, they offered building stones for later historiographers of the Mennonite brotherhood, Cramer having been a pioneer in the difficult path of Mennonite historiography. Further historical works by Cramer were "De twee acten van Prins Willem I betreffende de Doopsgezinden" (Vaderl. Letterocfeningen 1836), "Aanteekeningen van eene rondreis in alle Oud-Vlaamsche gemeenten in 1754" (Doopsgezind Jaarboekje 1844), "Het eigenaardige der Doopsgezinden, vooral hier te lande" (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1873). He belonged to a number of learned societies.

Cramer's interest in the practical was also apparent in his work for social welfare. In this field he accomplished much that has been of lasting value. He was one of the first to think of creating work for the unemployed for the cold winter months. In recognition of his services the government bestowed on him the Order of the Dutch Lion.


Cuperus, B. "Levensbericht van Alle Meenderts Cra­mer." Mededelingen v. Ned. Letterkunde (Leiden, 1895): 351-402.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 376.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Het protestantsche vaderland: biographisch woordenboek van protestantsche godgeleerden in Nederland, 8 vols. Utrecht, 1903-1918: II, 287-290 lists Cramer's numerous publications.

Author(s) H Westra
Date Published 1953

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MLA style

Westra, H. "Cramer, Alle Meenderts (1805-1894)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Apr 2021.,_Alle_Meenderts_(1805-1894)&oldid=120997.

APA style

Westra, H. (1953). Cramer, Alle Meenderts (1805-1894). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 April 2021, from,_Alle_Meenderts_(1805-1894)&oldid=120997.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 730-731. All rights reserved.

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