Sicke Freerks (d. 1531)

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Sicke Freerks (Frerichs, Frericx; also called Sicke Snyder), an Anabaptist martyr, who was beheaded 20 March 1531, at Leeuwarden, Dutch province of Friesland. Menno Simons writes, "Afterwards it happened, before I had ever heard of the existence of brethren, that a God-fearing, pious man, named Sicke Snyder, was beheaded at Leeuwarden, for being rebaptized. It sounded strange to me to hear a second baptism spoken of. I examined the Scriptures assiduously and meditated on them earnestly, but could find nothing in them concerning infant baptism." Van Braght's account of the execution in the Martyrs' Mirror contains several errors; the date is 1531 instead of 1533 as he has it; nor does Reitsma, who has examined the relevant archives, know anything of the torture van Braght mentions.

Early in 1531 Sicke Freerks, an honest and quiet tailor of Leeuwarden, was accused of heresy and given a trial. In the cross-examination it was revealed that he not only confessed Protestant doctrine, but considered faith a prerequisite for baptism. Two weeks before Christmas he had confessed his faith and been baptized at Emden.

Because he persisted in his faith he was condemned to death by the court of Friesland. He was beheaded; his body was tied to the wheel and his head put on a pole. Sicke was the first Anabaptist martyr in the Netherlands. The execution was publicly performed and made a deep impression. A drummer among the soldiers, who was a friend of Sicke's, began a tirade against Catholicism and had to flee. His wife Hadewyck later became an Anabaptist and was imprisoned with Elisabeth Dirks, but managed to escape.

Through his preaching Sicke Freerks founded a small circle of Anabaptists, who were adherents of Melchior Hoffman's doctrine, peacefully awaiting the return of Christ, and hoped that in 1534 the New Jerusalem would be established. They called themselves Bondgenooten (that is, Covenanters). Prominent leaders emerged from this circle, including Obbe Philips and Dirk Philips. About January 1534 Pieter de Houtzager, the emissary of Jan Matthijsz van Haarlem, led a number of this circle into fanaticism; Obbe and Dirk Philips rejected Houtzager's proposals. The followers of Obbe were called Obbenites. This was the group that Menno Simons joined in January 1536.

Sicke Freerks was obviously a convert of Melchior Hofmann's, as well as Jan Volkertsz Trypmaker of Hoorn, who was baptized at Emden, 15 November 1530, and was sent to preach in Amsterdam and North Holland. Sicke was presumably baptized by Trypmaker and sent out to Leeuwarden to spread the new faith there.


Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doops-gesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 35.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 441.

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Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt; Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 695.

Hoop Scheffer, J. G. de Geschiedenis der Kerkhervorminfr in Nederland . . .. Amsterdam, 1873: 490, 621 f.

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. 5.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932: I, 65, 162 f.

Reitsma, J. G. Honderd Jaren uit de Geschiedenis der Hervorming in friesland. Leeuwarden, 1876: 38-41.

Vos, K. Menno Simons. Leiden, 1914: 24, 182.

Author(s) Karel Vos
Date Published 1959

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Vos, Karel. "Sicke Freerks (d. 1531)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 27 Sep 2023.

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Vos, Karel. (1959). Sicke Freerks (d. 1531). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 September 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 523. All rights reserved.

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