Echsel, Wilhelm (16th century)

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Wilhelm Echsel (Excel, Exern), a cobbler of St. Gall (or Wallis?), Switzerland, was baptized by Fridli-Ab-Iberg and was one of the first Anabaptists at Zürich. He was one of the group that were arrested, but escaped from prison on 5 April 1526. At a hearing on 19 April (Egli) he explained exactly how the flight had been accomplished. Under the torture of the rack he confessed that he had never baptized or preached and therefore requested that he be permitted to return home. On pain of death by drowning if he returned, he was expelled from the canton. He then became an active member of the congregation at Strasbourg. Subjected to a trial there, he said that he had been baptized in Zürich because the Bible teaches first faith, then baptism, and that when the Anabaptists met, they warned one another of sin and shame. He left Strasbourg to evade a disputation with the clergy, and arrived at Augsburg at Christmas 1527. At the Easter meeting there in 1528 (see Augsburg, also Doucher) he was among those captured and tried. Here he recanted and was expelled (Roth, Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte). Nothing is known of the rest of his life. Neff supposed him to be a native of the Swiss canton of Wallis; but A. Hulshof states that he was from St. Gall. The Zürich documents (von Muralt-Schmid) call him uss Wallis.


Egli, Emil, compiler. Actensammlung zur Geschichte der Zürcher Reformation in den Jahren 1519-1533. Zürich : [s.n.], 1879: 308, no. 691.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 501.

Hulshof, A. Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden te Straatsburg. Amsterdam, 1905: 18.

Muralt, Leonhard von and Walter Schmid. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz. Erster Band Zürich. Zürich: S. Hirzel, 1952.

Roth, Friedrich. Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte. 2. vollständig umgearbeitete Aufl. München: T. Ackermann, 1901-1911: 222, 258.

Roth, Friedrich. "Der Höhepunkt der wiedertäuferischen Bewegung in Augsburg." Zeitschrift des historisches Vereins für Schwaben und Neuburg (1901).

Author(s) Christian Neff
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Echsel, Wilhelm (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 20 Sep 2020.,_Wilhelm_(16th_century)&oldid=144971.

APA style

Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1956). Echsel, Wilhelm (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 September 2020, from,_Wilhelm_(16th_century)&oldid=144971.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 141. All rights reserved.

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