Roosen family

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Roosen, a prominent German Mennonite family attached since 1532 to the Anabaptist movement. Its progenitor Coord Roosen (1495-ca. 1533) joined the Anabaptists in his home town of Korschenbroich in the duchy of Jülich-Cleve, Germany, and fled to Holstein with his four children when persecution set in. He settled in the village of Steinrade near Lübeck and supported his family by farming and manufacturing gunpowder. His fifth son, Gerlinck (Geerlinck, Geerling), born in 1532 in Korschenbroich soon after the flight to Holstein, followed the family to Holstein in 1554 when his mother died. By that time his father was also dead. In 1566 Geerlinck leased the farm Holskamp near Lübeck, united with the Lübeck or Fresenburg Mennonite congregation, and in 1565 married Elisabeth von Sintern. He without doubt met Menno Simons, who was living at Fresenburg. He died in 1611. Geerlinck's oldest son and then his oldest grandson leased the farm Holskamp after him. His fourth son, Paul (1582-1649), married to Janneken Quins, settled in Altona in 1611 as a tanner and leather dealer became quite well-to-do, and acquired considerable property, which the Count of Schauenburg placed at the disposal of Mennonites, Reformed, and other victims of persecution, and which was called the "Freiheit." The congregation was at that time known as Flemish, since it was largely composed of Mennonite immigrants from Flanders. Later the congregation called itself the United Congregation of Flemish, Frisians, and High Germans, toward the end of the 17th century "Mennonisten," and one hundred years later "Mennoniten." Paul Roosen became a deacon in this congregation. He placed a building at its disposal for use as a meetinghouse, which the congregation later bought. On this site the congregation built a church in 1674, and after the razing of Altona by the Swedes in 1714, another church, which was used until within the 20th century. Of Paul Roosen's sons, Gerrit Roosen, the oldest, became the most important member of the Roosen family. His brother Herman (1627-1696), married in 1657 to Maria Stockmann who was an important merchant in Hamburg, was also a deacon, and for a short time a preacher as well. Herman's daughter Anna (1670-1714) married Gabriel Otto Rahusen, a well-known Mennonite merchant of Hamburg, in 1695.

In the following century two of Gerrit's grandsons, Berend and Salomon Roosen, were deacons in the Altona congregation. Berend Roosen (1705-1788), married to Elisabeth Kramer, became the greatest merchant of the family and one of the greatest of Hamburg. He lived at 3 Vorgesetztenstrasse, in a house built by Sonnin, the architect of the Michaeliskirche in Hamburg. He owned about twenty ships. A major part of his business was Greenland shipping and whaling, which was engaged in by most Mennonite merchants of the late 17th century and all of the 18th. He owned a wharf on the Reiherstieg, a canal which connected Hamburg with the Elbe. Salomon Roosen (1717-1795), married to Sara Koopman, was likewise a wealthy merchant of Hamburg. The business of the brothers was carried on for several generations by their heirs, many of whom served the congregation as deacons. Roosen Bridge was named for Berend.

In the next generation, which included the trying period of the French occupation, two Roosens were deacons in the Altona congregation: Hermann Roosen (1778-1853) and Berend Roosen (1757-1820), both merchants. The latter was married to Elisabeth de Vosz. In the next generation, which experienced the great Hamburg fire, five Roosens were deacons: Berend Roosen (1778-1853), Hermann Roosen (1786-1864), B. Paulus Roosen (1792-1875), Salomon Roosen (1793-1863), and Berend Roosen (1795-1860). In the second half of the 19th century there were again several deacons of the Roosen family: Johannes Roosen (1823-1907), the architect B. Otto Roosen (1832-1912), and the shipper Berend Roosen (1835-1887). Of special importance to the congregation was Berend Carl Roosen, a preacher. The 20th century also lists two Roosens as deacons of the Mennonite congregation of Hamburg: the merchant brothers Paul Roosen (1867-1907) and Hermann Roosen (born 1861).

Government positions were not accepted by the Mennonites of the 17th and 18th centuries. Article 28 of the Glaubenslehre der wahren Mennoniten (Hamburg, 1776) by Cornelis Ris is an express warning on this point. But in the progressive 19th century men of the Roosen family accepted honorary positions in the government, served as members of the popular "Bürgerschaft," and in 1890 the merchant Rudolf Roosen (1830-1907) was chosen senator of the Free City of Hamburg. In 1700 a Paul Roosen and his wife Anna, Mennonites of Hamburg, leaving Altona on 5 March 1700, immigrated to Germantown, Pennsylvania, but soon after returned to Hamburg. No member of the Roosen family born since 1901 is now a Mennonite.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 531-33.

Mennonite Quarterly Review VII (1933): 236.

Oesau, Wanda. Hamburgs Grönlandsfahrt. Glückstadt-Hamburg, 1955: 133-50.

Roosen, B. C. Geschichte der Mennoniten-Gemeinde zu Hamburg und Altona. Hamburg, I in 1886, II in 1887.

Roosen, B. C. Geschichte unseres Hauses. Hamburg, 1905.

Author(s) G. A R
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

R, G. A. "Roosen family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 17 May 2021.

APA style

R, G. A. (1959). Roosen family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 May 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 356-357. All rights reserved.

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