- Descendants of Elf POPMA
Popma Ancestors and the Island of Terschelling 'Skylge'
Until the Saint Hubert Flood of 1287 Terschelling was not an island at all and could be reached on foot from Frisia. Soon after the island became important for the Hanseatic fleets. For centuries the city of Zwolle was in charge of keeping the searoute of the Koggediep. In 1322 count William III of Holland gave Terschelling as a fief, including the low and high jurisdiction, to Claes (Klaas) Popma, a scion from a mighty Frisian family. From 1322 to 1615 Terschelling remained a fief of Holland. Terschelling was ruled as a grietenij, a Frisian district. In 1482 Rienck Popma concluded a commercial treaty with the English king Edward IV. The Popma family was not the only claimant to the jurisdiction of Terschelling: the provost of the Saint Donatus at Brugge and Cornelis van Bergen competed with them in the early sixteenth century. The final possessor at the end of the sixteenth century, Charles of Aremberg, discovered he owned an impoverished island. In 1499 troops of a Frisian warlord had plundered the island, and in 1569 the castle of the Arembergs had been burnt down. In 1615 Aremberg sold Terschelling to the States of Holland.
In 1666 West-Terschelling was devastated by the English. The English fleet originally planned to attack the Dutch merchant fleet which was moored before the coast of Vlieland, the next island to the west. When the Dutch vessels retreated towards Terschelling, the English followed, destroyed 150 Dutch vessels, and landed in the harbour of West-Terschelling. The town was burnt to the ground by the English only leaving the Brandaris light house undamaged this attack would become known as 'Holmes's Bonfire' after the English admiral Holmes. The Great Fire of London later that year was considered by the Dutch to have been God's retribution. The next year, in 1667, the Dutch under command of De Ruyter executed a retaliatory expedition, and dealt the English navy a heavy blow at the Raid on the Medway (also known as the Battle of Chatham), in effect ending the Second Anglo-Dutch War. In the eighteenth century whaling helped the islanders to gain some prosperity.
In 1612 Terschelling had been divided into two separate municipalities. During the reign of the Dutch Patriot government, in 1805, Terschelling, Skylge in Frisian became again a Frisian island, but in 1814 it was added to the new province North-Holland, and the island was united into one municipality. In 1942, during the German occupation of the Netherlands, it was decided to add Terschelling again to the province of Friesland, a decision confirmed by Dutch law in 1951.
The island in its current shape was formed in the Middle Ages from a sandy area called De Schelling in the west and the original island Wexalia in the east. The name Wexalia, Wuxalia, or Wecsile is the medieval name of eastern Terschelling. However this name disappeared at the end of the Middle Ages. The last appearance of the name Wexalia is in a treaty between Folkerus Reijner Popma, then ruler of Terschelling, with king Edward of England in 1482.
The oldest traces of civilisation on Terschelling date from around 850, when a small wooden church was built on a hill near Seerip or Strip. This hill was later used as a burial ground and is known as the 'Striperkerkhof'.
Although Dutch is the national language of the Netherlands, on Terschelling both Dutch and Frisian are spoken. Frisian is said to be the closest living relative to Early English. Historically on the western side and on the eastern side of the island Frisian dialects dominated. Whereas a Dutch dialect called Midslands was the main language of Midsland and the surrounding area on the center of the island. The use of the three dialects is on the decline on Terschelling and all dialects are slowly being replaced by the standard Dutch language.