kolff: history: geography: 3: 2

kolff family coat of arms

From Gelre to Holland (2/3)

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Wouter came from a family of boatsmen; his father has been master of the guild. When Wouter was only nine years old his father had died. His mother, Maria, was a woman with style and character. She was a Van Heteren, a somewhat noble family that had become burghers at Nijmegen. She knew how to handle things. Just before her husband had died she had become the city's undertaker ('lijkbidster'). This meant that when people died she did the notifications and that she took care of the proper funeral ceremonies in church. This required good contacts with ministers, sextons, and gravediggers. It also required subtleness as well as business skills. She must have possessed all of these. Probably thanks to her network Wouter, who could learn well, could go to the Nijmegen high school (gymnasium). After that he studied at the Kwartierlijke Academie of Nijmegen. There he pleaded in March 1664 a dispute on a then current scientific subject: the relation between soul and body. For this the Council of Nijmegen granted him an allowance of 36 guilders. Thereafter he studied theology which he concluded at Leiden in 1667-68. Petronella van Duren came from a large family of Nijmegen silver-smiths. It was common amongst them to own small companies and houses. Unlike the Kolffs a number of Van Durens were members of the consistory. From later reports we know that Petronella was an energetic woman: often on her way to one of her three sons and extreemly active when her only daughter, who was rather frivolous, threatened to harm the reputation of the family.

After Wouter had been examined as candidate in theology by the classis of Nijmegen he reported himself in april 1670 at the classis of Zaltbommel, as a candidate for the ministry (so-called proponent). Shortly after he got appealed at Vuren en Dalem, the utter most western community of Gelre, on the river Linge and across from Gorinchem, in Holland. It is to say at least peculiar that he never showed himself at Vuren, where the church stood, and also never came to the meetings of the classis at Zaltbommel.