Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz (1620?-1700?)

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The Neth­erlands

Living in the "Golden Age" of Dutch political independence and cultural achievement, Plockhoy came to Amsterdam from the city of Zierikzee in Zeeland, as did also Galenus Abrahamsz de Haan, the noted physician and minister of the Amsterdam Mennonite Church. These two men were both influenced by the Collegiant move­ment and were associated in bringing into the Am­sterdam Church Collegiant ideas, which caused much dissension and eventually divided the church into the Lamists and Zonists. Plockhoy was also as­sociated with a radical Collegiant group of poets in Amsterdam known as the Reformateurs. In the light of his Collegiant connections he has little sig­nificance in the history of thoroughgoing Mennonitism except as a by-product of the transitory period of the Amsterdam congregation in 1650-64.


In Puritan England Plockhoy has more significance as a religious and social reformer during the late months of the Cromwell government. He published various editions of the following two tracts dated 1659:

1. The Way to the Peace and Settlement of these Nations fully discovered . . . published the letters that he had submitted to the Cromwell government in his attempt to reform in the area of the state church by supplanting it with all-embracing inter­denominational assemblies based on principles of freedom, discussion, and toleration, all of which were typical Collegiant ideas. His attempt at reform on such a big scale had little chance for success.

2. A Way Propounded to Make the Poor in these and other Nations Happy . . . comprised an alterna­tive scheme with more practicality as a solution to the immediate socio-economic needs of the day. It was a plan for co-operative settlements with com­munitarian production and consumption. Although colonies were actually begun in London, Southamp­ton, and Ireland, and others were projected for lo­cations in the Isles and even on the Continent, the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 put an end to these and other reform movements of the English revo­lutionary period. There is some evidence that in England Plockhoy had connections with other radi­cal reformers of this period: Levellers Giles Calvert and William Walwyn; Utopian, Samuel Hartlib; and possibly the poet-statesman, John Milton.

Colonial America

Plockhoy's determination to es­tablish communitarian settlements culminated in the planting of a colony of Dutch emigrants along the Delaware in New Netherlands in 1663, following a long series of negotiations with the Amsterdam burgomasters begun in 1661. In addition to the two English tracts mentioned above, there are also ex­tant a third and fourth published in the Netherlands in 1662 and coming out of the negotiations in Am­sterdam:

3. Kort Verhael van Nieuw Nederlant ... (Brief Account of New Netherlands) published the seven anonymous letters which Plockhoy and his company submitted to the burgomasters in petition for a colonization contract.

4. Kort en Klaer Ontwerp (Brief and Concise Plan) bears Plockhoy's signature and was the actual colonization prospectus that he published to en­list emigrants for his settlement. According to a separate document, a group of twenty-five "Mennists" had already been enlisted and promised finan­cial support by the Amsterdam government. The identity of these Mennonites has never been estab­lished, and the colony was not itself a Mennonite colony in the usual sense. A settlement of 41 persons was made in America in 1663 at Horekill (Lewes) on the Delaware, but was destroyed after a brief year of existence in the Anglo-Dutch war of 1664. It is not known whether he survived the 1664 English raid on his settlement, but he is generally thought to have died within a few years of that event. Plockhoy's wife, his blind son, Cornelis, and several of the other original colonists continued to live in Lewes, Delaware. In 1671 the settlement included Plockhoy's widow, who had married Willem Clasen, his son Cornelis, married to a woman named Judith, Helmanus Wiltbanck and his wife Janneken Cornelis, the sister to Plockhoy, and Herman Cornelis, brother to Plockhoy.

In 1694 a blind man named Cornelis Plockhoy moved to Germantown, Pennsylvania. Although older sources usually identified this man as the aged Pieter Cornelisz Plockhoy, writers generally agree that this was his son, Cornelis.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1884): 76.

Harder, Leland. "Pieter Plockhoy Revisited." Mennonite Life 60, no. 1 (March 2005). Web. 23 November 2014.

Harder, Leland and Marvin Harder. Plockhoy from Zurikzee. Newton, 1952.

Harder, Leland. "Pioneer of Christian Civilization in America." Mennonite Life 4 (January 1949).

Harder, Leland. "Plockhoy and His Settlement at Zwaanendael, 1663." Mennonite Quarterly Review 23 (1949): 186-199.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 379.

Horst, Irvin B. "Pieter Cornelisz Plockhoy, An Apostle of the Collegiants." Mennonite Quarterly Review 23 (1949): 161-185.

Nieper, Friedrich. Die ersten deutschen Auswanderer von Krefeld nach Pennsylvanien.  Neukirchen, 1940: 104.

Quack, H. P. De Socialisten. 1899: I, 186-207.

Smith, C. Henry. "Plockhoy and the Mennonite Colony on the Delaware." In The Mennonites in America. Goshen, IN: C. Henry Smith, 1909: 81-93.

Wikipedia. "Pieter Corneliszoon Plockhoy." 28 March 2014. Web. 23 November 2014.

Author(s) Leland Harder
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Harder, Leland. "Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz (1620?-1700?)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 16 Apr 2021.,_Pieter_Cornelisz_(1620%3F-1700%3F)&oldid=143697.

APA style

Harder, Leland. (1959). Plockhoy, Pieter Cornelisz (1620?-1700?). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 April 2021, from,_Pieter_Cornelisz_(1620%3F-1700%3F)&oldid=143697.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 195-196. All rights reserved.

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