Twente (Overijssel, Netherlands)

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Twente (Twenthe), a district in the southeast of the Dutch province of Overijssel, close to the German border. Anabaptists were found here from the 16th century; in 1544 two noblewomen of Beckum suffered martyrdom at Delden in Twente. Until 1625 the Mennonites in this area could not live freely and worship without hindrance as they could elsewhere in the Netherlands, for the Spanish domination permitted only Catholicism. Before 1626 there were in Twente several secret Mennonite congregations. Enschedé is mentioned in 1580; Almelo, though there is no literary information about this congregation before 1601, obviously also existed ca. 1580; besides these there was the congregation meeting at Twekkelo, and at Goor there were also Mennonites.

Most of the Mennonites in Twente earned their living by farming and weaving; they had probably mostly moved in from elsewhere; many old families in Twente are known to be of Westphalian origin. The idea found in old books and defended by P. Beets that in 1520-30 Anabaptist weavers emigrated from Flanders, Belgium, is not right, though occasionally in a later period of the 16th century a few weavers from Flanders may have settled in Twente. A number of the Mennonite weavers gradually achieved great prosperity and laid the foundations for the big textile industry for which Twente now is known. (Families of ten Cate, Blijdenstein, and others.)

Persecutions or at least suppression lasted as long as the Spaniards were in power in Twente. In 1612 a mandate was issued by the governor Unico Ripperda against the "wederdopers oft tibben", threatening the Mennonites with disturbing their meetings and arresting their preachers. Thereupon the Mennonites of Twente addressed the (Protestant) magistracy of Deventer asking their aid and intercession in the States of Overijssel (letter of 10 October 1612). The difficulties with the governors in Twente, however, lasted until the Spanish troops were forced to leave in 1625. Originally all the Mennonites in Twente formed more or less one congregation, of which there were local groups in the different towns. So this letter to Deventer was a petition of "de gemeente, diemen Manisten noempt, residerende in desen lande van Twenthe."

In the 17th century most Mennonites of Twente belonged to the conservative Groningen Old Flemish branch; only Almelo took a somewhat different point of view, joining the Flemish and later on the Zonist Conference. Among the Old Flemish leaders in this area are to be mentioned Hendrik Berents Hulshof (1664-1745) and Wolter ten Cate (1701-96).

In the course of time independent congregations developed in Almelo, Borne, Enschedé, Goor, and Hengelo. Goor died out in the 18th century; the four others were still existing in the late 1950s and together formed the Ring of Twente. The number of baptized members in Twente stood at ca. 350 in 1710, 258 in 1834, 548 in 1901, and 1,219 in 1958. Prominent Mennonite families found in Twente, some of which had died out, having moved elsewhere or having left the church, were Blijdenstein, Busschers, ten Cate, Coster, ter Horst, Jannink, van Lochem, Nieuwenhuis (and Nijhuis), Overbeek, Paschen, Schimmelpenninck, Stenvers, and Warnaars.


Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Groningen, Overijssel en Oost-Friesland, 2 vols. Leeuwarden: W. Eekhoff en J. B. Wolters, 1842: vv. I and II, passim (the letter to Deventer, II, 187-204).

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1929): 92-104.

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. 270, 1004.

Uit het Verleden der Doopsgezinden in Twenthe. Borne, n.d.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Twente (Overijssel, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 12 Aug 2022.,_Netherlands)&oldid=130469.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Twente (Overijssel, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 August 2022, from,_Netherlands)&oldid=130469.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 757. All rights reserved.

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