Colonel Ignatius van Kingma

There are three tombstones of members of the Kingma family in the Regina Church in Zweins, namely for Inte Jelles Kingma (great-grandson of ancestor Jelle Kingum), of his son Saeckle and of his grandson Ignatius (Inte) Kingma. The latter was Colonel of the Cavalry and Brigadier (= Brigadier General) in the army of the United Republic of the Netherlands. Like his father, Ignatius added the infix ‘van’ to his name, to sound more dignified.

After spending his youth in Zweins, Ignatius moves to Franeker and Utrecht to attend university. We have no other information on his studies, but we do know that he had a son with a girl in Utrecht called Margaretha (Grietje) Uitdenbongaert. Ignatius wanted to marry her, but his father would not let him. Ultimately, Ignatius did not recognise the child, Johan. He also failed to finish his studies and opted instead to embark on a military career. Despite his illegitimacy, his son chose to bear his father’s family name, styling himself Johan Kingma.

In 1651, Ignatius married Jaeycke van Vierssen, the daughter of the mint master of Friesland. She died just 33 weeks after the wedding, at the birth of their first child, presumably from the infamous childbed fever. On a monument in her name, at the front of the church in Zweins, we find a poem by the vicar, of which one line reads “Wort door een hete koorts met ‘s lyfsvrucht weggeruckt” (stolen away by a hot fever along with the fruit of her womb). In other words, we can surmise that the child also succumbed.

After the death of his father, on 12 February 1652, Ignatius became the owner and resident of the State.

In 1654, he was remarried to Ydt van Meynsma, a Catholic widow whom he eagerly sought to persuade to be reformed.

A certain Petrus Mestrum, a missionary/Franciscan at the Oosterend/Roodhuis station, played an important role. After quarrelling with his superiors about his place of residence (Sneek), he withdrew from the order and had himself retrained in Protestant theology in Franeker. As a Pastor-in-training, he attracted many listeners, including Catholics. Ignatius van Kingma appointed and accepted him into the ecclesial community of Peins/Zweins on 31 August, where he was confirmed on 10 September 1662. Petrus Mestrum died there in 1672. His tombstone reads: "The Honourable, Blessed and Learned Petrus Mestrum died in the Lord a Christian death on 19 January, 1672, aged 52.

Voornaamste drijfveer achter deze benoeming was dat Ignatius hoopte op deze wijze zijn vrouw te bekeren. Dat ging Petrus Mestrum slecht af, vooral als Gabbe van Meynsma, zwager van Ignatius, aanwezig was, “constantly silence the preacher with his arguments“.

From his marriage with Ydt van Meynsma, Ignatius had a daughter (Intia, 1660) and a son (Inte, 1662), who both died in the year of their birth.

Ydt van Meynsma died on 30 November 1671 and was buried with her family in Beers.

Unlike his family life, Ignatius’s military career went well. Delegates of the Provincial States of Friesland appointed him Cornet in 1647. In 1655 he became Ritmeester (comparable to the rank of Captain) of a company of harcquebusiers, as evidenced by a will of his wife Ydt from that year. Harcquebusiers are lightly armed cavalrymen. In 1662, the States of Friesland appointed him Sergeant-Major of the cavalry, which, apparently, was a higher rank than Ritmeester at the time. In 1671, he is promoted to the rank of Colonel and given the command of his own cavalry regiment, named after him. His regiment regularly fought with the army of the Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands, serving as a Brigadier (now: Brigadier General). He also commanded infantry units.

Economically speaking, Ignatius lived in a very prosperous time: the Golden Age of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces. The province of Friesland is one of the richest parts of the Republic.

From a military point of view, he initially lived in a relatively quiet time. The Peace of Münster, which ended the Eighty Years’ War with Spain (1568-1648) was concluded just after he began his military career. He took part in various military operations, such as coastal surveillance against the English fleet in Brouwershaven (Zeeland) and on Texel during the 1st English War (1652/’53). He was also involved in the defence of Wesel, a German city along the Rhine, in 1662, as well as the re-conquest of the Dijlerschans (Northern Germany) in 1664, from the belligerent bishop of Münster, Bernard van Galen (nicknamed Bombing Berend).

However, things did not get truly exciting until the ‘disaster year’ of 1672, which saw the Republic fight off attacks on many different fronts by an international alliance of England, France and the bishops of Cologne and Münster. Ignatius took part in the heat of the battle, as State troops protected the rich province of Holland at Lobith and at the Hollandse Waterlinie against the advancing French troops. When Berend van Galen also marches against Friesland, Ignatius is recalled to help defend his province.

After the enemies of the Republic have been dispelled, the dust and spray of the land and sea battles have settled and peace treaties have been signed, calmer times return. His regiment was disbanded in 1688 - when Ignatius was 67 years old - and his vane was handed over to the Frisian military man Douwe Karel van Unia.

In 1696, Ignatius - at 75 years old - began his will, which was completed on 14 December of that year. The will begins as follows:

In den Name Godes Amen. Alzoo niets sekerder sij dan de doodt, en onzekerder dan de uire en tijdt van dien, in overdenking van welks hebbe ik Ignatius van Kingma old Brigadier en Collonel over een regiment Ruiteren residerende tot Sweins, met voorbedagte rijpe rade, volkomen verstandt, redenen en memorij, uit mijn eigen vrije gemoedt, en wille gemaeckt, dees mijn Testament, uiterste en laatste wille, welke ik begeere kragt te sullen hebben als een Testament solemneel, minus solemneel, codicil, fideicommis, gifte ter saeke des doodt, of andere bheste wille invoegen dselve best na regten, usantie van deze lande, sal kunnen bestaen;” (freely translated as: “In the name of God, Amen. As nothing is more sure than death and more unsure than our time alive, I, Ignatius of Kingma, former Brigadier and Colonel of a regiment of Cavalry stationed in Sweins, have of my own free will and accord drawn up this my Will… “)

Fourteen, obviously handwritten, pages in folio format continue in much the same way. The most important message of these pages is that Ignatius bequeathed all his possessions to the son of his sister Catherine, Zaccheus van Gemmenich, whom he made his fideicommisarius or beneficiary, as he had no legitimate offspring himself.

This so-called fideicomissum was an institution by which a single beneficiary is bequeathed usufruct over all possessions of the deceased. This beneficiary is obliged to maintain the property and pass it on in its entirety to a trustee of the next generation. This institution originated in Roman times and was especially common in the time of the Republic, with noble families trying their hardest to ensure that their family’s possessions would stay in the family (together with the power and influence connected to those possessions!). When the Civil Code was adopted in 1838, fideicommissums were banned.

A supplement to the will is dated 12 November, 1698, in which the church of Peins and his handmaid Antijs are bequeathed a sum of money. This document has a wax seal, showing the Kingma coat of arms with a swan crest, flanked by the letters I and K.

Ignatius died on 26 November 1700 and was buried in the church of Zweins, in the same crypt as his first wife, Jaeycke van Vierssen. The tombstone features the coats of arms of Ignatius and his wife, although the upper half of both have been destroyed. This was the result of a rule that came into force in 1796, the French era. Coats of arms symbolised class differences, which was no longer allowed in the age of Égalité. It is likely that the lower half of the coat of arms was obscured at the time, as the coats of arms on all other tombstones were destroyed completely.

Ignatius’s illegitimate son Johan fought Zaccheus van Gemmenich in court about the inheritance. The legal records, dating partly from 1701 and partly from 1703, consist of 15 folio pages and mention, among other things, that Johan was a “Coopman in sijden stoffen tot Utrecht” (a silk merchant in Utrecht). These documents show that he was accused of wrongfully using the Kingma name, and state that “een speelkind ‘t welk nooit onder eens vaders magt is geweest, niet van des vaders familie kan geagt worden” (a child that never belonged to his father’s household, cannot be considered a member of the father’s family) and that “dat soodanig persoon niet de oorsprong, geslagt en conditie van syn vader maar van syn moeder volgt” (such a person does not have the lineage, family name and status of his father, but of his mother). From these words alone, it can be surmised that Johan’s bid was unsuccessful and that he did not receive a share in the inheritance.

Ignatius van Kingma was the last member of the Kingma family to inhabit the state. He leaves the state to a son of his sister Trintie: Zhaccheus van Gemmenich. Zhaccheus’s daughter married Coert Julius van Beijma, after which Kingma State passed to the Van Beijma family, who owned it until it was sold and demolished in 1864.