Haemstede, Adriaen Cornelis van (1525-1562)

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Adriaen Cornelis van Haemstede, of noble lineage, attended the University of Louvain, where he published in 1552 Tabulae totius juris canonici, . . . Livino Bloxenio á Burgh dicatae (copy in the State Library at Munich). He apparently joined the Reformed Church soon after. From Emden he was sent to Antwerp at the urgent request of the Reformed Church (dated 17 December 1555), and preached there in homes and out-of-doors. From autumn 1557 to February 1559 he spent a second period in Antwerp, full of danger and difficulty.

In this period he wrote his chief work, the martyrbook, De Gheschiedenisse ende den doodt der vromen Martelaren, the om het ghetuyghenisse des Evangeliums haer bloedt ghestort hebben, van de tyden Christi af, tot ten fare M.D.LIX toe, byeen vergadert op het kortste, Door Adrianum Corn. Haemstedium. An. 1559 den 18. Martii. The book is of great value, with its carefully collected and highly reliable reports, and was reprinted at Dordrecht 1657, Brielle 1658, Dordrecht 1659, Amsterdam 1671, Doesburg 1870-1871, Doesburg 1883. His influence on Tieleman van Braght's Martyrs' Mirror  is unmistakable.

In his report on Anthonie Verdickt, who died in Brussels 12 January 1559, there was in the edition of 1559 (p. 449) a statement of Verdickt's very liberal view on early or late baptism, which has  been deleted from all subsequent editions. Sharpened denominational sensitivity is also shown by the fact that because of Haemstede's mild judgment of the Anabaptists his name has been omitted from all the editions of his book since 1566 (Dresselhuis, 67; Sepp, 12). Worthy of note is also Haemstede's Confession of Faith for the Reformed in Aachen (1559) (Goeters, Theologische Arbeiten, 82 and 91). The following Anabaptist martyrs are found in Haemstede's martyrbook: Wendelmoet Claesd., Anneken vanden Hove, Sybrand Jansz, Janneken de Jonckheere, and Laurens Schoenmaker.

Fleeing from Antwerp, Haemstede led 13 merchant families to Aachen in February 1559 (not 1558; see Goeters, 55 ff.; 1907, 27), obtained permission to let them enter, preached to the citizens, had dealings with the Anabaptists, and preached in Jülich (Redlich, II, 375-381).

When Elizabeth assumed the British throne he sought refuge there for his fellow believers. In May 1559 Haemstede was in London, and was given the right to preach to his countrymen in Christ Church or St. Margaret's. In a letter to Palatine Elector Frederick III (12 September 1559) he pleaded for intervention in behalf of the Reformed in Aachen and sent a very instructive confession of faith for them (Nederland  Archief, 1907, 46 ff.; Theologische Arbeiten, 1906, 85 ff.). But he soon became involved in a serious dispute on account of his mild judgment of the Anabaptists. On 3 July 1560 the church council of the greatly increased congregation charged Haemstede with offering the hand of brotherhood to several Anabaptists, though they rejected him; on the question of the incarnation he confessed his ignorance and declared that he would not for that reason reject the Anabaptists. Indeed, he had to intercede for them to the magistrate, to the bishop in London, whom the queen had appointed as supervisor of foreign groups, as well as to the Low German Reformed Church. They did not teach, as the Münsterites had, community of goods or of women; he would not judge them harshly. An anonymous petition was actually presented to the bishop of London, Edmund Grindal, to tolerate several who were unable to unite with the Reformed group. On 4 September the bishop sent it to Petrus de Loenus and Jan Utenhove for their opinion (Strype, Grindal, 62 f.). Haemstede admitted that he had promised to speak for them, not because he sanctioned their doctrine of the incarnation, but because he hoped they would see the light; at any rate, they were weaker members of Christ. They replied with the reproof that to underestimate error is to confuse the believers, strengthen the opposition, and make the church suspect in England and elsewhere. Instead of making the confession of guilt required of him, Haemstede declared that persons who acknowledge Christ as priest and intermediary, desire the Holy Spirit in order to work righteousness, are founded upon Christ, the only foundation. Hence he hoped for the best for them as for all his dear brethren. Even if they built on this foundation with wood, hay, straw, or stubble, they could partake of salvation. Their great ignorance did not exclude them from salvation. The truth should be presented to them in friendliness, but to judge and condemn them as ungodly was of the flesh and forbidden. Galatians 5; Matthew 7. This judgment refers not to all, but to the good among the Anabaptists, who err in simplicity (Kerkeraadsprotokollen, 448). The council replied that then no church discipline could be exercised toward those who joined the Anabaptists. Whoever rejected the incarnation, infant baptism, the oath, and government, refused to join the church, could not possibly be considered a brother. Haemstede agreed with a document of this nature, but added: the question of the method of incarnation was only a minor point in the article that the Son of God truly appeared in the flesh. To separate on this point would be to cast dice for the garment and to neglect the Crucified, or to quarrel about the color of the garment.

On 5 August 1560, Haemstede was suspended from the office of preaching. He replied, "Do these things, it is well, I thank you; this is what I seek. Christ ought always to suffer at the hands of the scribes and Pharisees; his ministers suffer likewise. But I must preach the Gospel; the Lord will provide the place for me" (Kerkeraadsprotokollen, 455).

In further negotiations before Bishop Grindal on September 16 Haemstede signed a correct confession of the incarnation, but refused to make a confession of guilt, and was therefore excommunicated on 19 November 1560, and expelled from the country. His adherents long maintained that he had been unjustly sentenced, and were themselves excommunicated. Among them were such distinguished men as Acontius, the historian Emanuel von Meteren, Antonius  Corranus, and Cassiodorus de Reyna.

Haemstede went to Holland, where he worked in The Hague, East Friesland, and later in Groningen. There is also record of a trip to Kleve (121). In Antwerp a document in his defense was circulated (170). Also in the church council of Emden opinion was in his favor, and they wrote to the London church and to Grindal to have the case reopened. But when Haemstede appeared in London on 19 July 1562 to preach, and looked up his followers, he was arrested on 22 July. Grindal rejected as inadequate and ambiguous the confession of guilt presented by Haemstede and presented to Haemstede a formula of recantation (Strype, Grindal, 469 f.), in vain. An edict of the Privy Council to the church commissioners, 19 August 1562, ordered him to leave England within 15 days or forfeit his life. He died in Friesland in that year. The influence of Haemstede's attitude toward the Anabaptists continued not only in England. In Holland and East Friesland voices were heard in their defense. A very similar case soon after Ulis is that of the Walloon preacher, Adrian Gorinus.


"Ab  Utrecht Dtesselhuis." Archief voor Kerhgeschiedenis (1835): 41-150.

de Schickler, F. Les Eglises du refuge en Angleterre. Paris, 1892: 117 ff.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1916): 114 ff.

Gerdes, Daniel. Historia reformationis. Groningen, 1744-1752: III, 270 f.

Goeters, W. G. "Adrian van Haemstede's Wirksamkeit in Antwerpen und Aachen." Theologisches Arbeiten aus dem Rheinischen Wissenschaftlichen Predigerverein (1906): 50-95; 1907: 25-29.

Goeters, W. G. "Documenten van Adrian van Haemstede, waaronder eene gereformeerde geloofs-belijdenis van 1559." Nederlandsche Archief (1907): 1-64.

Haemstede's Geschiedenisse is found in Bibliographie Neerlandais. The Hague, 1890: II, 269-378;

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 218 f.

Meiners, E. Oostvrieschlandts Kerkelyke geschiedenisse. Groningen,  1738: I, 371 ff.  396; 

Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire litteraire des dix-cent Provinces de Pays Bas (by Pa-quot). 1768: II, 342-44 (erroneously considers Haemstede an Anabaptist).

Molhuysen, P. C. and  P. J. Blok. Nieuw Nederlandsch Biografisch Woordenboek. 10 vols. Leiden, 1911-1937: I, 1013-1016.

Oberman, H. T. "De betrouwbaarheid der Martelaarsboeken van Crespin en van Haemstede." Nederlandsche Archiefe v. Kerkgeschichte IV (1905): 74-110.

Petrejus, Theo. Catalogus Haeretirorum. Cologne, 1629: 82 (Lists a sect of Haemstede's followers).

Pijper, Fredrik. Jan Utenhove. Leiden, 1883. 

Pijper, Fredrik. Martelaarsboehen. The Hague, 1924: 34-72.

Rutgers, F. L. Calvijns invloed. Leiden, 1899.

Sepp, Christian. "Geschiedenis der Marteiaaren door Adriaan van Haemstede." Geschiedkundige Nasporingen. Leiden, 1873: II, 269-378.

Sepp, Christian. Geschiedkundige Nasporingen. Leiden, 1873: II, 9-136.

van Lennep, M. F. Caspar van der Heyden. Amsterdam, 1884.

van Schelven, A. A. De nederduitsche vluchtelingenkerken der XVIe eeuw. The Hague, 1908: 120 ff.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Het protestantsche vaderland: biographisch woordenboek van protestantsche godgeleerden in Nederland, 8 vols. Utrecht, 1903-1918: III: 439-446.

Author(s) W. G Goeters
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Goeters, W. G. "Haemstede, Adriaen Cornelis van (1525-1562)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 31 Jul 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Haemstede,_Adriaen_Cornelis_van_(1525-1562)&oldid=144156.

APA style

Goeters, W. G. (1956). Haemstede, Adriaen Cornelis van (1525-1562). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 31 July 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Haemstede,_Adriaen_Cornelis_van_(1525-1562)&oldid=144156.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 620-621. All rights reserved.

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