Dekker (Decker) family

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Dekker (Decker) is a family name frequently found among the Dutch Mennonites (not, however, exclusively Mennonite), especially those in the Zaan district (congregations of Zaandam, Roog-Zaandijk, Westzaan and Wormerveer), who descended from Elder Jacob Dirksz of Wormerveer, while another branch was found in Rotterdam, where members of this family were deacons 1742-1883. They were nearly all merchants, mostly wood- or grain-dealers.

Jacob Dekker was a preacher at Den Helder 1742-1747, Hendrik Dekker at Barsingerhorn about 1772-1782. Adriaen Pietersz Dekker, a Mennonite of Amsterdam, played a part in the Collegiant movement. He was on the board of the Collegiant Oranjeappel orphanage, when this was founded in 1677. He wrote Aanwyzing van de rechte gronden (1685). Samuel Johann Dekker, of Rotterdam, studied at the Amsterdam Mennonite Theological Seminary and served as a Mennonite pastor at Broek op Langendijk 1875-1884, Monnikendam 1884-91, and Zutphen 1891-1901. His farewell sermon, at the same time a baptismal sermon, entitled Christenbede, was published at Assen.

Of more recent times mention should be made of Klaas Dekker (d. 7 May 1921), a merchant of Zaandam and deacon of the congregation of Zaandam-West, who first suggested the idea of the Mennofonds, and Klaas Dekker Gzn (1850-1922), a wood-dealer at The Hague, who for many years was president of the church board of the congregation at The Hague and was one of the first promoters of the Gemeentedag movement.

The relationship of the different branches of this family could not in every case be determined. Another Dekker family, not related to the above Dekkers, lived on the island of Ameland; most of them were navigators. To this family belonged the (untrained) preacher Jan Douwes Dekker, who served about 1837, and the preacher Dieter Douwes Dekker (b. 1812 at Amsterdam, d. 1861 at Den Helder), who studied at the Amsterdam Seminary and served the congregations of Woudsend 1839-1840, Beemster 1840-1844, and Den Helder 1844-1861. Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1877) of Amsterdam, who under the pseudonym "Multatuli" wrote a number of well-known novels and plays, was also a member of the family. He, however, turned against the church, inclining to atheism.

It has been thought that the Dutch author Jeremias de Decker (Dekker) (b. 1609 at Breda, d. December 1666 at Amsterdam) was a Mennonite; but this has been denied by J. Geyl, who asserts that he was a Calvinist. At any rate, it has not yet been proved that he was a Mennonite.

See also Decker (Dekker) family


Zondagsbode. 34 (1920-21): No. 28.

Brieven No. 14 (October 1922).

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1840): 113.

Molhuysen, P. C. and P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. Leiden, 1911-1937: I, 691.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Dekker (Decker) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 29 Sep 2022.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1956). Dekker (Decker) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 29 September 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 27-28. All rights reserved.

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