Family newslettter 2021


Dear Relatives:

Your Cnossen Family Foundation Board hereby offers this year’s Annual Newsletter. Last year we said it was a unusual year. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted much, and we missed out on our typical family reunion in the Netherlands. Fortunately, thanks to today’s technology, we were able to organize a virtual reunion and a Christmas photo/film action. Many Cnossen and Knossen family members participated in this. We received positive reactions from the family about both actions. We are pleased with that. It reinforces our assumption that the time and effort we as a Board put into the Foundation is appreciated. Unfortunately, this year the COVID pandemic is not over yet. When making plans for this year, we still must take that into account and now also a war. What a terrible time for the people of Ukraine. As far as we know, there are no Cnossens or Knossens living in Ukraine. If it is, we wish them a lot of strength and pray for peace.

Family Gathering: Saturday, September 3, 2022

The Board believes that it would be good for the family bond to have a physical family gathering this year in the Netherlands. The provisional date for this event is Saturday, September 3. It is being planned after the summer because experiences of the past two years show that in the summer period the pandemic is typically less bad. The event program is still being developed, but we will try to organize an interesting event for both young and old. Please note that date in your calendar. We will keep you informed via our websites, and our Facebook page

Research into Our Family Origins

Thanks to your past donations, you will find several family stories. We hope that you find it interesting and that you will also continue your donations to the Foundation in 2022. We would like to use these donations for further research into our origins. With the donations received in 2021, we were able to cover all our operational costs and even had a slight surplus. We will spend that surplus on the further digitization of our extensive archive of Cnossen historical documents. These documents will soon be visible to everyone via our website. We are also going to give our website a new look. To accomplish the task, we have purchased an A3 scanner and are using volunteer labor to scan the documents.

It would be very interesting to be able to make a genealogy connection between the 15th Century Knossens near Bolsward and the Knossens who lived along the Rhine in Germany at that time and before that. Our assumption is that the ancestors of both branches migrated with the Vikings from Scandinavia to our regions. We would like to include the archives of the Roman Catholic churches in this research. In our earliest family tree, we regularly discover Roman Catholic clergy. They often had descendants and we know that monks in the Middle Ages regularly changed monasteries, often internationally. (We already wrote about this in a previous Newsletter.) We recently discovered a priest in the Groningen archives: Otto Knossen from 1546, who worked in Nienoord near Leek in Groningen. He does not appear in our current family tree. The name Otto, however, does occur. In the bell of the church of Lutkewierum, for example, are the names of lord (pastor) Wibe Takezoon and also those of a Lolcke Ottozn. Heer Wibe is a well-known Knossen, owner of lands on Knossens. We will discuss more about him during the Family Reunion on 3 September. The origins of Lolcke Ottozn’s are not yet known. The name Otto Knossen is mentioned in Part 2 of our family book on p. 49 and 55 as an important inhabitant of Mainz in Germany in the 13th century. In our preliminary research to date, we have often come across more or less coincidental similarities between Knossens, who live internationally in the 13th1, 14th and 15th years that a connection is very possible. We would like to have more research carried out on this and your donations will make this possible. On behalf of the Foundation Board, I wish you a lot of reading pleasure,

Jelle P. Cnossen (AAB, Foundation Chairman

Anna Wpckedr Lives on……


In what is now southeastern Sweden, more than a thousand years ago, a wealthy Viking warrior was laid to rest in a majestic tomb full of swords, arrowheads and two sacrificed horses. The tomb reflected the life of a male Viking warrior. At least that’s what many archaeologists thought. However, new DNA analyses of the bones reveal a secret: in the grave lies a woman. The research, which was published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, required archaeologists to refine their knowledge of the Vikings.

The women in that northern society appear to have been on an equal footing with men in many respects. Their position at that time was much better than that of women in the rest of Europe. Written sources state that Viking women were independent and possessed rights and freedoms. Viking women, for example, had the freedom to become rich and powerful. They also had the right to divorce if their husband became violent towards her, to remarry and to inherit. They were the guardians of the keys to both property and wealth, especially when their men were abroad. There are indications in mythology that some were also trained to be military leaders, with shield maidens.

If you read the historical data about our ancestor Anna Wpckedr., as published in our second family book, you get the thought that she may have inherited those Viking genes. Because she stood her ground. In this Newsletter, we can get to know her a little better.

Anna Wpckedr.

A big difference between the genealogy in the first and that in the second Cnossens Knossen family book is the position of Johan Wpckes (IVa) and his sister Anna Wpckedr. (IVb). They represent the 5th generation in our second book.

0. Johan N. 1400

Ib. Wpcke Johans 1456

IIc. Johan (Jan) Wpkis 1495

III. Wpke Johansz (Janz) to Knossens 1507 page2image62289696

IVa. Johan Wpckis Knossens † 1558

IVb. Anna Wpkedr Knossens † 1576

In the first book we assumed that Johan Wpckis (IVa) was in our direct lineage, the research for our second book shows that this is not the case. Anna Wpckedr (IVb) is our progenitor in the straight line. She lived from +/- 1510 to 1577, at the time of Prince William of Orange (1533 – 1584), the ‘father of the fatherland’ and is +/- 67 years old. Her tombstone is located in the Martinikerk in Bolsward, together with that of her brother Johan Wpckis, provost of the militia in Bolsward.

We know quite a lot about Anna from the research of our family historian Drs. Ype Brouwers and also from his colleague Mr. Hein Walsweer:

While Johan Wpckis Knossens (IVa) and his wife Egbert Egbertsdr ran the company at Knossens, Anna married Aene Hoytes in 1535. We don’t know much about Aene Hoytes, except that he came from Wons, a Frisian village near the beginning of the Afsluitdijk. They had a son: Wpcke Aenez (Va). We do not know where the couple lived, but after Aene’s death Anna returned to (the vicinity of) Bolsward.

After the death of Johan Wpckes Knossens (IVa) in 1558, his widow Egbert Egbertsdr. the company on Knossens continues with their daughter Simk and the sons Wpke and Benedictus. The children all died before their mother. The last one, Benedictus Johansz. Knossens, died in 1568 in Cologne, where he studied at the Artes Academy. What a tragedy that must have been for Egbert Egbertsdr.: her husband and all her children died during her lifetime. The fact that Benedict was already studying in Cologne at that time was very special and it shows the importance of Johan Wpcke’s Knossens. Egbert Egbertsdr. came from a well-to-do family and also had many possessions. Normally, the company would have become its property after Johan’s death. Of course, she was also the heiress of her children. But that came differently and that’s how it is:

The father of Johan Wpckis and also of Anna Wpckedr. with the unsurprising name Wpke Johansz to Knossens (III), had made a ‘fideï-commissaire’ will, with the stipulation that the assets from his estate could only be inherited in a descending line. Now that the children of Johan Wpckes had died and his descendants had died out, his property therefore fell to his sister Anna. But Egbert Egbertsdr picked up on that. as a wife she did not and she held on to the property. Anna then filed a lawsuit with the Court of Friesland to claim the share to which she was entitled. 2

In 1573, the Court of Friesland ruled in the case between Anna Wpckedr and Egbert Egbertsdr. The Court found that Anna was the rightful heiress of Wpcke Jansz to Knossens. For that reason Egbert had to submit an inventory to her and refund her the ‘grote sate te Knossens’ and also all other real estate that came from Wpcke Jansz’ on her father’s side. Furthermore, half of the proceeds of all

The fidei-commis comes from classical Roman law and was loved there for more than 700 years for several reasons, including to pass on an inheritance to persons who were not allowed to inherit according to the legal rules, such as women, unmarried people and slaves and to keep family property within the family. Even later, fideï-commis estates played a major role, as in the histories of noble Families. By establishing a fidei-commis, it could be ensured that the tribal lock or a certain asset could not be disposed of or would be inherited by a married daughter and through patriarchal rules in the hand of another sex.

In 1573, the Court of Friesland ruled in the case between Anna Wpckedr and Egbert Egbertsdr. The Court found that Anna was the rightful heiress of Wpcke Jansz to Knossens. For that reason Egbert had to submit an inventory to her and refund her the ‘grote sate te Knossens’ and also all other real estate that came from Wpcke Jansz’ on her father’s side. Furthermore, half of the proceeds of all Egbert’s assets. Finally, the Court found that the large sate at Knossens would not be inherited to ‘friends’ (family members in the broad sense) but only to ‘straight heirs’ on the part of the testator on the father’s side.

After the death of Aene Hoytes, Anna Wpckdr. remarried, around 1553. Her second husband was Mr. Myrck Aggez Feddinga, from the city of Workum. The children from that marriage were called Feddinga, while descendants of her son Wpcke Aenez from her first marriage later started calling themselves ‘Knossens’ again. So our family name was continued through the female line.

You can conclude from the above, with a little bit of imagination, that Anna Wpckedr. was a feisty woman, who did not let herself be walked over and who was not afraid to tackle her (rich) sister-in-law. Do we see in this character something of the former Viking women of whom Anna, likely made probable by our DNA research, perhaps had a number of genes?

 ‘Anna Wpckedr.’

All in all, plenty of reasons to call Anna Wpckedr. an important Cnossen Knossen woman and one to be highly respected in a special way.

One way that will be done is introduced in the following interview that Iskje Cnossen (AAB had in 2020 for the annual AAB 5.14.7 -family newspaper with Jelle Cnossen (AAB

In a full shed of Shipyard Bolt in the Drachtster harbour Bûtensfallaat, somewhere almost at the end between other boats, Jelle Cnossen stands. He is working with wooden mahogany slats. He is in the process of rebuilding his BM-er (Bergumermeer) from scratch.

Jelle, you were mainly from sailing and not from boat building, weren’t you?

“The boat belonged to Foeke Cnossen from Sneek. We are together on the board of the Family Foundation. Foeke often told about his BM’er. I had already told him that he had to let me know if he ever wanted to sell her. I thought it was a very nice example, because there is a teak deck on it and you don’t often see that with BM-ers. Then came the moment he wanted to sell the boat. The fact that the boat would remain in the family appealed to him and we agreed on a reasonable price. That’s how the boat came into my possession. When I first started sailing with it, it soon became clear that the boat was leaking. The hull of a BM’er is made of long mahogany slats, which are nailed to each other and to a frame of oak trusses and a keel beam. Even if the slats do not fit properly, the boat still has to become waterproof, because in the water the slats expand a bit, so that they still form a waterproof surface. With this BM’er, however, a large number of slats were rotten and especially the oak keel beam had perished. This caused cracks, which no longer closed. The boat is from 1970 and therefore already 50 years old. Then one thing led to another; if I wanted to put a new oak keel beam in it, then first half of the slats had to be removed. Then I decided to almost completely tear it down and then rebuild it, slat by slat.”

You remind me of the Vikings, who also built their boats in this way. Would the genes of your ancestors still have an influence?

“I hadn’t thought of that yet, but indeed, that could well be.”