Newsletter 2023

                                                                                                                                                                Newsletter No.47; April 2023

Dear Relatives:    

Your Cnossen Family Foundation Board hereby provides this year’s Annual Newsletter. Over the past year, your Board has again worked with great pleasure to achieve the objectives of our Foundation:

  • Stimulating genealogical research related to the Cnossen-Knossen family, and
  • Strengthening the family bond of the Cnossen-Knossen family.

On September 3rd we organized a very successful Family Symposium in Kimswerd Friesland, where about eighty family members were present. The attendance was more than average for a reunion for a few reasons: an interesting program with Geert Pruiksma (FCO, Director of Museum Nienoort, as speaker; and it was held in the afternoon – not an all-day event. We know this was well received based on information from a short survey that we conducted via email and our website afterwards. The reactions were very positive. On our website you can find a report of the meeting ( Special was the appointment of Board Member Foeke Cnossen as an Honorary Member of the Foundation. Foeke has been a Board Member for 48 years. He was Treasurer for many years and very active as a researcher into our family history. Foeke is a ‘living archive’ and knows a lot about our family. Chairman Jelle presented him with a certificate. 

There have been a few changes in the Board’s staffing of the Foundation over the past year. We are delighted with the arrival of two new Board members:

Pamela Cnossen (FBG will assist our Ambassador, Jim Cnossen, in the USA/Canada. Pamela is very interested in researching the Cnossen-Knossen history. She has already visited the Netherlands several times. Together with her parents Kees and Hillie Cnossen, she was present at the presentation of our second Family Book in Bolsward in 2018. She is in her mid-forties and works as a coordinator at the Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario Canada. We are very happy with this rejuvenating reinforcement on the other side of the ocean.

Age Knossen (FCN has also expressed his willingness to strengthen the Board. Age is a very experienced director of various organizations and with a working history as a Director of the ING bank. We are very happy with the arrival of this Board professional. Age is also very interested in our family history and he already wrote an article for the Newsletter about his parental farm in Wijckel. 

We hope that these two new members will soon feel at home on our Board. But we are not so concerned about that because the Board is a pleasant group of people with a common interest in the history of our special family and that creates a unique bond. It is great that we finally have a Knossen with a ‘K’ on the Board and that with the arrival of Pamela and Age, the F-branch is well represented again. We would like to include someone from the B-branch on the Board. We welcome recommendations from our family. 

Unfortunately, our Honorary Member Johan Cnossen has decided not to stand for re-election for another four-year term on the Board. Johan has been a Board Member for 53 years and has been very active in the realization of our two Cnossen Family Books and he has been Secretary of the Board for many years. On February 4th, we said goodbye to him in an appropriate way.  Later in this Newsletter is an interview we conducted with him.  Johan is not out of sight because he has offered to continue to correct the media texts to be published, as he always did before now. As a former instructor and teacher, he has the necessary skills for this.

Also, in this Newsletter we have included an article about the topic of “own inheritance”. Our earliest ancestors were own-inherited land owners and we thought it would be interesting to explain a little more about that.  We also included two Special Awards that Cnossen family members have received. 

We wish you much reading pleasure.

Best Regards,

Jelle P. Cnossen (AAB, 

Foundation Chairman

Reunion: USA 2024

The Board plans to host a family reunion in the USA on the weekend of August 9-11, 2024. This time it will be on the west coast in Washington state. Many family members live in the states of Washington and Oregon and they have indicated that they would like to hold a Cnossen Family Reunion there. For the preparation, a working group has been formed consisting of: Darlene Osban-Hundtoft, Judy Osban-Gasbarro and Rick Cnossen. On behalf of the Board, Pamela Cnossen, Jim Cnossen, and Paul Cnossen help with the preparation. Family members from the Netherlands are of course also very welcome. We will keep you informed of the plans and further preparation on the website ( and our Cnossen-Knossen Facebook page ( 

Tour Ride of Vintage Cars: June 3, 2023

To meet each other in a different way, the Foundation Board organized a tour ride for vintage cars and motorcycles. The route leads past a number of beautiful places in the north of the Netherlands. Along the way there is an opportunity to admire each other’s vehicles and of course make contacts with family members. The ride will only take place if there are enough registrations. More information and the possibility to register can be found at and the Facebook page of the Foundation.

Own-inherited Frisian Farmers

Our earliest mentioned ancestor is Wpka Johan(s) to Knossens (in 1456 he used his seal with the well-known Knossen family coat of arms on a testamentary deed in Workum). With this seal he made it clear that he belonged to the category of ‘own heirs’. This concept has been used in Friesland since the 11th century. A so-called noble estate, in which the nobility acted as landlord with tenants, was not known. Charlemagne, the emperor, wanted to keep the Frisians on the edge of his empire as friends and established their right to land in a so-called ordinance: ‘All Frisians are free and they have nobility’. In the Westerlauwers region (i.e., west of the River Lauwers) a book of law was written around the year 1100 saying: ‘The free Frisian owns his ancestral heritage in the area (hamlet) in which he lives’. This concerns only those born Frisians, which also included the so-called native Frisians from the Angles, the Saxons, and the Scandinavians who came to our shores in the 5th century. Free Frisians did have some distinctions between them; namely chieftains (those who inhabited a defensible stone house or ‘stins’), the other own-inherited land owners and the serfs. Non-born Frisians had no ancestral heritage in Friesland and were considered serfs. In later centuries, a form of land nobility emerged from the stone house inhabitants, which eventually led to bloody mutual feuds and quarrels. The core of the Frisian social structure remained the system of inheritance until the French rule under Napoleon in the 19th century. There was also some change after the Treaty of Munster in 1648, but especially in the current province of Friesland between Vlie and Lauwers, Frisian freedom remained largely intact, in contrast to the current region surrounding Groningen and North Holland.

In the 15th century, the property heirs were distinguished according to land ownership. The minimum to have voting rights in the community was 30 ‘pondematen’, the usual standard was 120 pondematen of property. Those 30 pondematen were considered the social minimum to support a family (1 pondemaat is about 40 acres). The heirs who owned several farms and more than 120 pondematen of land were counted among the chieftains and they often held the most important social functions in the community. In order to emphasize these social positions, many of the owners carried a seal, later often converted into a family coat of arms, as we also see with the Knossens. Our current coat of arms is a direct derivative of the seal from 1456 of Upka Johannes to Knossens (I). But the boundary within the property was not sharply drawn, because the land ownership changed through inheritance and marriages. If you look at our family history in the 15th and 16th centuries, you will see this fact occurs regularly, as well as the inheritance in the female line. For example, this was the case in 1558 when all the children of Johan Wpkis Knossen (IVa) had died and his father’s inheritance passed to his sister Anna Wpckedr and not to his widow Egbert Egbertsdr. Anna Wpckedr became the progenitor of all modern Knossens and Cnossens. 

The territory of owners also had common lands and waters (‘Meenschar’) on which the rights, such as hunting and fishing rights, were divided among themselves, as well as the maintenance obligation. In later centuries, this common maintenance obligation grew into water management. These common rights and obligations can also be found in our family history in the vicinity of the Bolsward Knossen terfs and the maintenance obligation on the seawall in Wonseradeel. The property was therefore subject to rights and obligations concerning the community, such as: 

  • Taking turns in courts, 
  • The right of collation in the appointment of preachers and later pastors,
  • The right, as referred to above, to a share in the general land of the neighbouring community for the exercise of the hunting and fishing rights, 
  • The right to keep bees, 
  • The right to keep doves, and  
  • The duty of lordship, i.e. the duty to serve as an armed horseman in defense of the community (as one of our ancestors, Johan Wpkis at Bolsward, is described in our Family Books (Part I page 116 and Part II p. 69).

In 1656 or 1657 Wpcke Johans, a member of the 8th generation Cnossen, died. After his death, the farms on Knossens came into the possession of third parties such as the Bolsward orphanage, and from then on, the Knossens concentrated in the vicinity of Jutrijp and Hommerts. 

Due to changes in the composition of the population and subdivision of the lands, the own-inherited system gradually lost meaning from the 17th century onwards, although its traces remained visible in the administrative system of the current province of Friesland until the 19th century.

“I didn’t even know the word genealogy yet!”

Johan Cnossen (FCO from Lemmer retires after 53 years as a Board Member of the Cnossen-Knossen Family Foundation. An amiable person thus puts an end to many years of sifting through, recording and administering our family history. 

Johan started in February 1970 at the age of 35 as a Board member of the ‘Vereniging Familie Cnossen-Knossen’.

‘In October 1969 I attended the very first Cnossen reunion. This was announced in the Frisian newspapers. I was already interested in genealogy at that time and asked a lot of questions about the history. The Board noticed that, and they asked me to join them. By the way, I didn’t even know the word genealogy at the time, but I especially liked the stories my father told! ‘

A conversation with Johan is a joy. He is a true storyteller and explains in detail how the family history was mapped out including wonderful anecdotes. “The first chairman went by bike past cemeteries in Friesland to search the family past. He neatly wrote it down in a notebook. You can imagine the panic when the notebook was lost! Furthermore, Board Members simply went into the province to ring the bell at Cnossens. There were already plans to make a book with the family tree and some special family stories. But we were told: ‘Only the positive stories, though! There are also odd Cnossens!’ Beautiful, isn’t it?”

Organizing the collected data was a huge job. “The Board has been working on this for fifteen years. Over the past year and a half, I have mapped everything out with Foeke – who is still a Board Member. In addition to correction with the help of Pieter Cnossen † (AAB 5.15.1), we sifted through telephone directories and collected obituaries and wedding advertisements from the newspapers. At family gatherings, we urged people to pass on updates.”

The presentation of the first Cnossen-Knossen Family Book in 1988 was for Johan the biggest highlight in more than half a century of administrative work. “The family came to Hommerts from far and wide. It was so busy in the village that the police had to come and regulate the traffic. That says enough about how proud we are of our history!”

On and via our Facebook page ( you can read a more extensive interview with Johan.

Family Data


NameBornLocationFamily Code
James Sem Cnossen2022-05-13IJsselsteinFCO
Kai Lukas Cnossen2022-06-22HarderwijkFCD
Liva Mea Beeftink2022-12-03AAB
Leon Ate Cnossen2022-12-21WorkumFCO
Toon Alle Bokma2023-02-24AmsterdamFCO
Jayde Charlotte Cnossen2022-05-10Grand Rapids, MI USAAAB
Luca Jay Cnossen2023-01-23Zeeland, MI USAAAB
Zeke Matthew Cnossen      2023-02-24Wyoming, MI USAAAB
Arabella Margaret Cnossen2023-02-24West Bloomfield, MI USAAAB
Anneka Jean Buck2023-03-27Lake City, MI USAFCA


NameBornDiedLocationFamily code
Hiskia Osinga19432022 FCN
Albert Roelof Lefferts 1946-12-172022-01-17FranekerFCN
Roelof Wiebes Cnossen1931-07-132022-02-08JoureFCN
Wendy Wagenaar1978-05-062022-04-05EelderwoldeAAB
Sjirk Johannes’ Cnossen1932-09-282022-05-07BenningbroekFCA
Tjitske Foekje de Vries1946-01-132022-07-06SneekFCN
Marten Cnossen1929-03-072022-07-09SneekBDA
Aaltje van der Hoek1920-08-152022-08-18SneekFJD 11.6.8
Wiebe Ages Knossen1946-05-122022-10-12DrachtenFCN
Wiebe Jolle Pieters Cnossen1944-05-192022-11-01SneekFBG
Jeltje Terpstra1944-10-262022-11-09HeegFCA
Romke van der Veen1935-12-202022-11-28BeetsterzwaagFCO
Wilhelmina Piers Cnossen1950-11-062022-12-25SneekFCN
Jelmer Hoekstra1941-06-032022-12-26GrouFCO
Walle Nauta1949-04-192022-12-28CanadaFCN
Johanna Albertje Hoomans1938-04-112022-12-30BolswardBDA
Tetje Cnossen1947-05-182022-12-30SneekFCN
Trijntje Wybes Cnossen1920-11-032023-01-12EefdeFJD 7.3.2
Pier Eppinga1956-03-252023-01-20DrachtenFCO
Jitsje Dieuwke Hofstra1929-10-132023-01-22GrouFCN
Klazinus Haayes Cnossen1946-09-072023-01-25SneekFBG
Teatske Ages Cnossen1939-02-192023-01-28MakkumFCN
Jelle Van der Meer1942-07-092023-02-02TijnjeAAB
Steven Earl Cnossen1943-5-202022-03-26Payette, ID USABBB
Ann Andringa Van der Wal1945-04-242022-08-23Sedro Wooley, WA USAAAB
Della Cnossen-Kohler1937-05-022022-09-18Holland, MI USAFCA 8
Adam Russell Cnossen1980-03-292023-03-04Ponoka, AB CanadaFCA


Jane Flapper & John Allen Morgan2022-06-11Guelph, ON CanadaFCN 

Special Mentions

Janco Cnossen (AAB

On Wednesday December 1, 2021, Janco received the Honorary Medal from the municipality of Zwolle. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen awards the medal to people who have made a meritorious contribution to the city. In total, the Honorary Medal has been awarded 37 times in the Overijssel capital. Janco retired on this date as chairman of the Board of Academiehuis de Grote Kerk. During the meeting, Mayor Peter Snijders presented the Honorary Metal. In the past, Janco was an alderman and informateur in Zwolle. “For years, first as an alderman and then as a volunteer, Janco has made a meaningful contribution to the city and society. Committed and inspired, he is committed to Zwolle and the Zwollenaren with visible pleasure and results,” says the mayor.

Sybren Cnossen (FCO

The University of Pretoria has awarded an Honorary Doctorate to Emeritus Professor Sijbren Cnossen, in recognition of his international authority in the field of public finance and taxation. Sybren previously held the position of Extraordinary Professor at the African Tax Institute of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences of the University of Pretoria.

“The Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences is very pleased to have a long-term academic relationship with someone of the stature of Professor Cnossen,” says Professor Margret Chitiga-Mabugu, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. “This Honorary Doctorate is a gesture of recognition for his expertise and a token of appreciation for the time he has invested in the African Tax Institute over the past 20 years. His exceptional contributions to public finance and fiscal policy are world-renowned and our staff and students have benefited greatly from his insights.

Donations 2023Tekstvak: Donations from USA/Canada relatives are welcome and can be done by:
•	Mailing a personal check made out to the “Cnossen Family Foundation” to Jim Cnossen; or 
•	Making an electronic funds transfer (e.g. web banking, or Zelle) into the USA Cnossen Family Foundation account at Comerica Bank using the following information:  
o	ABA Number:  072000096
o	Account Number:  1852507290
•	Using credit card payment at:
If any Questions, contact Jim Cnossen or Pamela Cnossen at:
•	Email:
•	Email: