The earliest known ancestor I was able to locate is Jacob Westerhof (1749-
The city of Zwolle was founded around 800 AD by Frisian merchants and troops of Charlemagne. In 1294, Zwolle became a member of the Hanseatic League, and in 1361 joined the war between the Hanseatic League and Vlademar IV of Denmark. In 1324 and 1361, regional noblemen set fire to the city. In the 1324 fire, only nine buildings escaped the flames. Zwolle’s golden age came in the 15th century – between 1402 and 1450, the city’s Gross Regional Product multiplied by six. Zwolle became one of the centers of the Brethern of the Common Life, a monastic movement. Three miles from Zwolle once stood the Augustinian convent in which Thomas a Kempis spent part of his life and died there in 1471.
An offshoot of the Brethern of the Common Life, the Congregation of Windesheim was a congregation of canons regular, of which this location was the chief house. It played a considerable part in the reform movement within the Dutch and German Catholic Church in the century before the Protestant Reformation. In 1386, six of the Brethern erected huts for a temporary monastery at Windesheim, and in March of the following year commenced the building of a monastery and church. They would follow a monastic life as if they were an enclosed religious order. The canons in Windersheim followed the example of newer Orders, such as the Carthusians and Dominicans, and adopted a more centralized form of government. When the Windersheim Congregation reached the height of its prosperity towards the end of the 15th century, it numbered 86 houses of canons and 16 nuns. Those who survived the Protestant Reformation (they still numbered 32 in 1728) were suppressed at the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century. The rise of Protestantism augured the decline of the Windershiem canons. As Calvinism spread through the Netherlands, support for the canons dwindled. There are practically no remnants left of those original buildings in Windesheim.
Some Protestant writers have claimed the Windesheim reformers, such as Johann Busch (1399-