Fontein family

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Fontein, a Dutch Mennonite family, which according to a family tradition (which is probably erroneous), had emigrated about 1520 from French Flanders to Friesland (see Blaupot ten Cate, Friesland, 178, note) and lived at Harlingen in Friesland; here Jurjen Scheltes Fontein and his son Schelte Jurjens were both burgomaster. It could not be decided whether these two men belonged to the Mennonite Church, but probably they did. Claes Jurjens Fontein, born 1616 at Harlingen, died there 1670, a deacon in the church and the son of Schelte, was a sheriff of the city of Harlingen and later its tax collector and steward. Claes's son was Reyner Claesen Fontein, born 1654 at Harlingen, died there 1727. He was a well-to-do merchant and owner of a salt work. Besides this he served his home church (Flemish and Waterlander congregation) as a preacher. He was among the founders (1695) of the Friesche Societeit (Conference of Friesland). The address delivered by Reyner Claesen in 1719 at Leeuwarden to make peace between the proponents and opponents of baptism by immersion in the Mennonite congregation of Leeuwarden is found in Blaupot ten Cate, Friesland, 319-320. Reyner Claesen was rather liberal, an adherent of Collegiant principles (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1878, 79-86, 90-91). Reyner Claesen Fontein had no sons; his daughter Auckje was married to Dirk Pietersz (1686-1737), a member of the congregation, sheriff of Harlingen, and a saltmaker. This Dirk Pietersz adopted his wife's family name. One of their children was Pieter Fontein, Mennonite minister of Rotterdam and Amsterdam; another son of Dirk Pietersz was Claes Dirksz Fontein, died 1787, who was a deacon of the congregation of Harlingen and treasurer of the Friesche Societeit 1771-1787. His son Feddrik Fontein ab Andla, born 1736 at Harlingen, died there 1765, was a physician at Harlingen. Claes Dirksz was married to Grietje Feddriks van Deersum, who was a collateral descendant of the Frisian Andela family (mentioned as early as 1300) and who inherited the stately country-seat of Andla State at Ried near Franeker. She was a daughter of Feddrik Anskes van Deersum, who had been a copreacher of Reyner Claesen Fontein, the grandfather of her husband.

A great-grandson of Dirk Pietersz was Freerk Dirksz Fontein (1777-1843), a merchant or wholesale dealer like most members of this family, living at his country house Salverd near Franeker; he was renowned for his beautiful collections of rare books, engravings, and valuable manuscripts and honored for his studies in history and genealogy by being appointed (1829) member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde (Association for Dutch Literature) (Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek VI, 518). The Fontein family was related by marriage with other Mennonite families of Harlingen like Braam, Dreyer, Hannema, Huidekoper, Oosterbaan, Stinstra. A lateral branch of this family is found in Franeker, where some Fonteins also served as deacons.


Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Friesland. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff, 1839.

Molhuysen, P.C. and P.J. Blok.  Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. v. 1-10. Leiden, 1911-1937.

Vorsterman van Oyen, Stamen Wapenboek. Gron­ingen,  1890: III, 399-406.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Fontein family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 30 Sep 2023.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1956). Fontein family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 September 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 346. All rights reserved.

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