Toren, Hendrik (ca. 1663-ca. 1731)

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Hendrik Toren (Toorn), born ca. 1663 at Rotterdam, Holland, died ca. 1731 in England, married first to Anna Bredenburg (d. 1701) and after her death to Ursula van Alphen (d. 1708), was a Mennonite baker at Rotterdam. In 1687 he was chosen as preacher by the Rotterdam Waterlander congregation. Early in 1691, having given up his bakery, Toren together with Willem Suderman, a member of the same congregation, started an iron trade with England. This firm was dissolved in 1701; Toren, now being the sole owner, went bankrupt and in 1712 presented his bankruptcy petition. In 1713 he entered into a brief partnership with the ex-sheriff Pieter Verbeek. Toren now lived at Delfshaven near Rotterdam, and in 1714 at Delft, from where he moved to England in 1715. In 1716 (?) he settled on the Isle of Man, where he ran some business. In his last years (1720-30) he wrote in English a History of Holland, dedicated to the (Anglican) Bishop of Man.

As a preacher of the Rotterdam Mennonite Church he was very active and baptized many persons, among whom was Jan Bisschop in 1699, and in 1711-12 he also gave catechetical instruction. In 1696-99 he retired from his ministry, perhaps because he opposed the intended merger of the Waterlanders with the Flemish congregation of Rotterdam, which came about in 1700. When in this union the Waterlander views proved to be predominant, there was no longer any reason for Toren to oppose it, and so he served the united church. During his ministry he published Timotheus onderwezen in den Christelycken Godsdienst (Rotterdam, 1709) and Verdeedigingh van Godts Regtveerdigheid (Rotterdam, 1710).

Toren had some rather liberal views, as is indicated by his interest in the Collegiants. In 1693 Toren, Albert van Meurs, a Mennonite deacon, and Jan Suderman, also a Mennonite, had to answer to the magistrates of Rotterdam for Socinian views taught in the "colleges" (meetings of the Collegiants), in which these three men were apparently leaders. When Toren became bankrupt (1712), the preachers and deacons of the Mennonite congregation demanded that he avoid the communion service and "stand still" in his ministry. After this event he retired or was dismissed as a preacher. His name is no longer found in the church records. It is possible or even probable that he left the church.

Toren should be particularly mentioned for his activity in behalf of the persecuted Mennonites of Switzerland. He was a representative of the Rotterdam Mennonites in the Dutch Mennonite Committee of Foreign Needs at Amsterdam from 1709. The Amsterdam Mennonite archives have a copy book of Toren's (Inv. Arch. Amst. I, No. 1009) in which he copied a number of letters and gave historical particulars pertaining to the coming of the Swiss Mennonites to the Netherlands in 1710-11. This unique diary is of great value for the study of the Swiss-Palatine emigration.

Toren seems to have had great gifts, but to have been difficult to get along with; not only in 1695-99, but also in 1705 and again in 1711 he temporarily refused to exercise his ministry because he could not have his way. In the meeting of the Foreign Needs Committee at Amsterdam he also created difficulties.

Concerning his family there is little information. Jacob Toren, probably Hendrik's father, was a deacon of the church 1671-73. Some other Torens are mentioned.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1908): 85-105, passim.

Hazewinkel, H. C. "Hendrik Toren." Rotterdamsch Jaarboekje (1949): 223-249.

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, Nos. 1009 2251 ff.

Vos. K. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinde gemeente te Rotterdam. 1907, repr.: 25, 28, 44, 47.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Toren, Hendrik (ca. 1663-ca. 1731)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 Sep 2020.,_Hendrik_(ca._1663-ca._1731)&oldid=126605.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Toren, Hendrik (ca. 1663-ca. 1731). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 September 2020, from,_Hendrik_(ca._1663-ca._1731)&oldid=126605.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 738-739. All rights reserved.

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