The First Church Wardens
Around 1750, the Dutchmen were divided pro and con to the "stadhouder" Willem IV; who was the leader of the Dutch Republic, descending from the famous "Willem van Oranje". Willem IV was the stimulator of the liberation of the Netherlands in the 80-years war of 1568-1848, what was the start of the free Republic of the 7 States of the Netherlands. One of the issues was what "this stadhouder" had to say about the provinces and the cities. That gave for many years heavy discussions and even fights, everywhere, between the pros and the cons. In this case the City Council of Appingedam instituted on July 17, 1751 a "policemaster" Jan Jans. He was also the council secretary, policeman, grave-digger and more, all for the better "order" in the city Appingedam. His duties were: on Wednesday and Saturday, to send all the beggars, strange people and vagabonds away from the city; to care for the cemeteries so that there was no playing there, and to pick up the little stones; to assure that there was quiet during the sermon in the church and make sure it remained quite outside by sending the young noisy people away; to dig graves and keep the cemetery clean; along with numerous other duties.
Years before, the church-wardens (of the Appingedam church and possibly elsewhere) asked the Mayors (in those days there were four of them, of whom the one who had served the longest had to retire every year) to do something about the disturbed church sermons. the mayors ordered that "during the sermons Berent Stoffers has to go around the church with a quip to guarantee the quiet". (outside the church, not inside) There is no indication if this was made necessary by young vandals and/or the fights between the pros and cons. It appears that Berrent Stoffers was something akin to a police assistant.
This page was last updated Tuesday, 08-Feb-2005 19:05:36 CST.
Graphics by Lynn Waterman, ©2004