Graaf, Lieuwe Willemsz (1652-1704)

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Lieuwe Willemsz Graaf, born 1652 at Harlingen, Dutch province of Friesland, was at first a skipper to Hamburg. He became a Mennonite preacher serving first in his native town and from 1694 on at Amsterdam in the Old Frisian congregation. He died in 1704. By observing the sky on his voyages and by diligent perusal of pertinent literature he acquired a knowledge of the stars unusual for his time. He translated and printed at his own expense a book by Professor Mathias Wasmuth of Kiel, Kort begrip van de algemeene herstellinge des Tijd. . . . Believing that he had found an exact method of determining east-west distances, he sold his boat in Harlingen and devoted his time and money to promoting his discovery. He applied to the Dutch States-General for a patent and for financial support to publish the discovery in a booklet. Several times he appeared before them, debating with specialists and with his opponents, and also before the council of the city of Amsterdam. He was finally granted a patent and 2,000 guilders. Then he published his book, Eenvoudig, en onvervalscht Verhaal . . . , in which he gives an interesting account of his appearances before the States-General and the city council and presents his astronomical discovery. In the same year (1689) as the above writing, a second book of his appeared: De nieu gepactiseerde oeffening der Stuurlieden, a complete instruction book in the art of steering a boat. Graaf's portrait was engraved by P. Tanje (published in Schijn-Maatschoen, III, 432), and four short laudatory poems appeared, A. Spinniker writing one for the portrait. In Amsterdam Graaf opened a school, apparently for the instruction of navigators. Of Graaf's significance for the Mennonite Church, nothing can be said. While he was still a preacher at Harlingen, he became involved in 1688 in a quarrel with Balthasar Bekker on some untheological matter.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 152.

Molhuysen, P. C. and P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. Leiden, 1911-1937: III, 485.

Schijn, Hermann. Aanhangzel Dienende tot den Vervolg of Derde Deel van de Geschiedenis der Mennoniten .. . in het welke noch Negentien Leeraars der Mennoniten . . . Amsterdam: Kornelis de Wit, 1745: 433-484.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Biographisch Woordenboek von Protestantsche Godgeleerden in Nederland. Utrecht, 1903-: III, 319 f., 400.

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

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MLA style

Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Graaf, Lieuwe Willemsz (1652-1704)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 13 Apr 2024.,_Lieuwe_Willemsz_(1652-1704)&oldid=145293.

APA style

Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1956). Graaf, Lieuwe Willemsz (1652-1704). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 13 April 2024, from,_Lieuwe_Willemsz_(1652-1704)&oldid=145293.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 558. All rights reserved.

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