chapter  8
20 Pages

‘Which of them do belong to the parish or not’: The Changing Rural Parish in the Dutch Republic after the Reformation

ByArjan Nobel

Uitgeest, 1634. The church in the village, situated in the north of Holland, was in a very bad state. On a rainy Sunday the churchgoers were literally in deep water. The roof leaked so badly that they could hardly find a dry pew. The officiating ministers complained bitterly about the acoustics in the church: there was no sounding board above the pulpit. That made preaching in this church an extremely exhausting activity. It could not go on that way, concluded the consistory. They applied to the two churchwardens with a request to repair the church. One of the two men, Jacob Cornelijs belonged to the Dutch Reformed congregation but his colleague, Jan Pieters Vroom, was ‘popish’, or Roman Catholic. The two churchwardens did not make the decision themselves but convened the residents of Uitgeest to a community meeting, a so-called buijrsprake. They presented the request from the consistory but very soon there was dissension; the ‘churchgoers’ were in favour, the ‘papists’ opposed. And so this meeting ended, just like all the other meetings, ‘partisan and bitter’.1