Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Standing up before the King

As the subject line says, this is about not bowing down to Royalty.

My Friesian relatives were pretty strict Calvinists. My great great grandfather Hette Pieters Hettema, who was a leader of a secessionist sect of them, left a memoir that is mainly about his religious life. There is a brief description on a site devoted to the history of the secession movement in Hallum. A selection of the memoir was published in 1978 as a book entitled "Kroniek van een Friese boer." Here is a link to a web page, in Dutch, that describes the book, which has the English title,Chronicle of a Friesian Farmer. A great aunt, Bettie Hutter, made a synopsis. She writes:
In spring of 1839, great grand father & elder Hamming of Burum, went to Amsterdam as representatives of Friesland, where the divisions of the church were discussed. After that, because the judges continued to fine the separatists every time more than 19 people attended a meeting, the congregation at Wanswerd elected great grandfather and Lammert Hoogendigh from Ferwerd, to go to the King with a petition against the persecution.

Dec. 14, 1839, they left Leeuwarden for ________? [blank appears in typescript] where they stayed over-night. They travelled by coach. In Amsterdam, where the Rev. Van Velsen now lived, they stayed with him over Sunday, and went to the Hague on Monday. They were to find a Sir Golverdinge, who helped them to find their way, and on Tuesday they were to go to the palace. At 11 A.M. they were to sign their names in the great hall and state their purpose.

At twelve noon they were taken in to the king, who was congenial and listened to each of them in turn as they told of their persecution. The King promised to look into the situation and they returned to Leeuwarden, travelling straight through. It took some time, but before too long, they were granted freedom of religion and their own parish.
This incident came to mind when I prepared the following "quote-of-the-week" for my work-blog:
• Who gets borrowing privileges?

This quote of the week comes from the Annals of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, AD 1598-AD1867, by William Dunn Macray (Riverintons, London, 1868).
A.D. 1645.
A small slip of paper, carefully preserved, is the memorial of an interesting incident connected with the last days in Oxford of the Martyr-King [i.e., Charles I] whose history is so indissolubly united with that of the place. Amidst all the darkening anxieties which filled the three or four months preceding the surrender of himself to the Scots, King Charles appears to have snatched some leisure mo­ments for refreshment in quiet reading. His own library was no longer his; but there was one close at hand which could more than supply it. So, to the Librarian Rous, (the friend of Milton, but whose anti-monarchical tendencies, we may be sure, had ­always hitherto been carefully concealed) there came, on Dec. 30, an order, ‘To the Keeper of the University Library, or to his deputy,’ couched in the following terms: ‘Deliver unto the bearer hereof, for the present use of his Majesty, a book intituled, Histoire universelle du Sieur D’Aubingné, and this shall be your warrant;’ and the order was one which the Vice-Chancellor had subscribed with his special authorization, ‘His Majestyes use is in commaund to us. S. Fell, Vice Can.’ But the Librarian had sworn to observe the Statutes which, with no respect of persons, forbad such a re­moval of a book; and so, on the reception of Fell’s order, Rous goes to the King; and shews him the Statutes, which being read, the King would not have the booke, nor permit it to be taken out of the Library, saying it was fit that the will and statutes of the pious founder should be religiously observed.’

Perhaps a little of the hitherto undeveloped Puritan spirit may have helped to enliven the conscience of the Librarian, who, had he been a Cavalier, might have possibly found something in the exceptional circumstances of the case, to excuse a violation of the rule; but, as the matter stood, it reflects, on the one hand, the highest credit both on Rous’s honesty and courage, and shows him to have been fit for the place he held, while, on the other hand, the King’s acquiescence in the refusal does equal credit to his good-sense and good-temper. We shall see that this oc­currence formed a precedent for a like refusal to the Protector in 1654 by Rous’s successor, when Cromwell showed equal good feeling and equal respect for law.

Addendum: My Friesian relatives were stubborn as well as stedfast in their faith. For many years Hette Pieters Hettema refused to have himself or his family innoculated against smallpox, relenting only after losing half his family, including his wife.

Another Addendum: The Secessionists' complaint resulted from religious reforms enacted by the relatively liberal regime installed in The Netherlands by Napoleon. They wished to continue worship in the old way rather than in the Dutch Reformed Church of the time.

Yet another: The king of the Netherlands in 1839 was William I. Wikipedia says he had been reigning 25 years by that time and would stand down the following year. Says the official site of the Kingdom of the Netherlands:
In 1689 stadtholder Prince Willem III of Orange became King of Great Britain after his wife Mary II Stuart was chosen as Queen of Great Britain. In 1795 the last stadtholder Prince Willem V fled to England and the Netherlands became a part of the French Republic and later the French Empire of Napoleon. Between 1806 and 1810 Louis Napoleon, a brother of the Emperor Napoleon, was the first King of Holland.

In 1813 the son of the last stadtholder was chosen as sovereign. At the Congress of Vienna the Kingdom of the Netherlands was drafted and in 1815 this sovereign became King Willem I. His Kingdom also enclosed the later Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. In the battle of Waterloo in 1815 the new crown prince Willem played a quite important part. Afterwards it gave him the nickname Hero of Waterloo, and the Russian czar offered him his sister Anna Pavlovna as his bride. Belgium became independent after a revolt in 1830, but the Netherlands didn't recognize the new kingdom until 1839. King Willem I abdicated in 1840 and died in Berlin in 1843.

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