Ranst, Jan van (1634–1684)

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Jan van Ranst, born 1634 at Rotterdam, Holland, died there March 1684, a flax-dealer, married to Neeltgen Conines, was from 1661 until his death a preacher of the Rotterdam Waterlander congregation. Through his activity, his honesty, and his forethought, he was of importance not only for his Rotterdam home church, but also for the Dutch brotherhood in general. He was the first to draw up a "resolutions book" of the Rotterdam Waterlander congregation, writing down all that seemed to him worth remembering. His notes are an important source of information concerning this Rotterdam congregation. He was very broad-minded, participating in the Collegiant movement; and after the failure of an attempt by his church to merge with the Flemish Mennonite congregation in Rotterdam he considered a union with the Remonstrants at Rotterdam, which proposal was, however, declined by the Remonstrants.

When the needs of the Swiss Mennonites who had been expelled from Switzerland and immigrated to the Palatinate became known in Holland in 1671, the Rotterdam Waterlander congregation, on the initiative of van Ranst, made a proposal to help them by bringing them all to the Netherlands and settling them there at the expense of the Dutch Mennonites; but this plan was not carried out because the Swiss Brethren wished to stay among their coreligionists in the Palatinate, even hoping to have an opportunity to return to Switzerland, which indeed some of them clandestinely did.

Van Ranst also initiated the founding of the Waterlander or South Holland Conference in 1675. Although this conference was short-lived, it was of the highest importance for the future practice of training ministers, for van Ranst in 1675 and again in the following yearly meetings proposed the founding of a seminary. He called attention to the fact of the decay of most of the (Waterlander) congregations, which van Ranst thought was largely caused by the lack of preachers (many pulpits were vacant) and the incompetence of many untrained preachers. The seminary was not realized at this time, mostly because of the unwillingness of the Haarlem congregation; nevertheless one result was that the Amsterdam Lamist congregation in 1680 directed its preacher Galenus Abrahamsz  to train young men for the ministry.

Besides all this, van Ranst in 1681 traveled to Friesland and Groningen, combining business and church matters, and visited a number of congregations in this area, stimulating them to unite into a conference. This had no direct result, but led to the founding in 1695 of the Mennonite Conference of Friesland.

Cornelis van Ranst and Reyer van Ranst, apparently both sons of Jan van Ranst, were deacons of the Rotterdam congregation, Cornelis from 1689 and Reyer from 1705.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1872): 61, 64, 66; (1918): 49.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, No. 1060; v. II, No. 2208; v. II, 2, No. 378.

van Slee, J. C. De Rijnsburger Collegianten. Haarlem, 1896: 109, 114.

Vos, K. Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Rotterdam. (reprint 1907): 25, 43.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Ranst, Jan van (1634–1684)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 25 Jan 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ranst,_Jan_van_(1634%E2%80%931684)&oldid=109332.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Ranst, Jan van (1634–1684). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 January 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Ranst,_Jan_van_(1634%E2%80%931684)&oldid=109332.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 252. All rights reserved.

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