Forums: Index > Watercooler > Pier Gerlofs Donia descendants?

(Copied from talk page of Phlox- I am heads down on the SMW stuff- perhaps someone could respond to Pierius's inquiry? Thanks. ~ Phlox 16:14, September 11, 2009 (UTC))

I am searching for decendents of the legendary Pier Gerlofs Donia... I know he was a noble man and a rich landowner in the early 16th century. He lived from 1480-1520. He had a son and a daughter, both of whom reached adulthood. I wonder what happened to their decendents, who they were and where they lived. I heard some of his decendents later on moved to the US, where as others stayed in Frisia or in the Netherlands and others went to Denmark. I made a page to ease my search.

I also wonder what happened to his nephew Wijerd Jelckama. Both are well known folk heroes and historical characters in Frisian history. I want to know who are there decendents and where their decendents live. I am of Frisian ancestry myself, so I could perhaps be a decendent.

I know for a fact that Donia had black hair, a light brown skin and fierce black eyes. He was described as a dark man: I wonder if he was an African man or a Morish man. He was very tall (standing at a height of 7 feet tall) and extremely strong. He was heavy built, broad shouldered and barrel chested. He had large hands and feet and a low voice. He was a frightening man who made quite an impression on his contempories.

He died at the age of 40, as a poor man, having lost all his possesions by that point. The fact that he was of gargantuan size and that he died young could indicate he has suffered from a growth disorder, something he may have passed on the next generations.

His nephew who went by the name of Wijerd Jelckama (1490-1523) was about the same size so it could have run in the family. Perhaps there are still people of Frisian ancestry (or any other) who have a similar appearance and may know more about the faith of these individuals and their decendents? I know Donia's mother belonged to the nobility and I know his ancestors had been knights. I hope someone will respond. Pierius Magnus 12:55, September 11, 2009 (UTC)

You undoubtedly have seen the Wikipedia article on this subject that mentions his children and wife. There are a few links from there and they may be helpful in tracking the source and veracity of the Wikipedia information. Apparently there is some controversies about how much is fact and how much legend in what is written about this subject. I looked at one of the sources mentioned for Wikipedia. A translation from a dutch source may be found [here. I see that Fred has posted some information as well. Google translate is useful for reading some of these sites. Hope this helps. ~ Phlox 22:02, September 11, 2009 (UTC)

Dear Pierius,

As an offspring of the Jelckama family, I can assure you that as well as Pier Gerlofs Donia as Wiard Jarichs Jelckama did not have any genetic defects or growth disorders. My whole family is around two meter. I myself am quite short with 1.96 meter, but my youngest brother is 2.01 meter and several nephews are even taller. Indeed most Jellema's have dark hair and eyes, which indeed could have started with the crusades.

We all feel healthy, fit and strong and the size helps a lot to move through crowded places like underground stations. Most of us even excel in volleyball and other sports. Frisians are at least 20 centimeter taller as the average Dutchman, because of the good food in our region and the habit of drinking and eating lots of diary products and fish, which are quite cheap over here. The biggest complaint in our family is the shrinking size of seats in airplanes. The reason why the people from the Holland province reported about the seven feet length of Grutte Pier, is because in that time they were living in rather poor peat swamps, were the food was less nutricious.

If you like to know more about our family, please have a look at

Jan Jellema, Haarlem, Netherlands

That's an interesting site you got there! I've visited it right away. Are you yourself a descendent from Wijerd Jelckama, or anyone you know, or just related by blood (as in, a great-great-great uncle from the past)? Dr. Magnus 09:24, November 10, 2010 (UTC)