Right is a wonderful thing; that creeps up on me in everything I read about it, and it never lets go ... Adio, pale and as always
- w.g. Vader
[closing sentence from a letter from Jan to his son-lawyer, April 19, 1988]
How would Father Jan himself started to describe his own life, apart from the fact that he would judge it as completely hypothetical something autobiographically entrusted to the paper…
Probably not at birth, but that of one of his ancestors in the third, fourth, fifth generation. And mention the years, places of residence, education, spouse and profession. Completeness with footnotes to the sadness of the reader, however: a complete picture of the subject had to and should be painted, whether it was about family affairs of all ages - see his contributions to the family book WIARDA 1369-1969 [a, see sources at the end] - or in his numerous legal publications.
Do not be afraid, I will limit myself.
In hindsight, Jan himself would have applauded that, I think…
Jan Wiarda -IV - was born on March 5, 1909 in Dordrecht, where his Father - Jan III [1870 - 1946] - was a judge. A few years later, the family, consisting of mother Louise Lucks [1876 - 1931] and brother Gerardus Johannes [1906 - 1988], moved to Amsterdam, where brothers Gerard and Jan attended the Barlaeus Gymnasium and next studied law. For Jan, this study in no way pointed towards a major scientific career, when he wrote years later:
My oral candidate exam was extended by twenty minutes [“extended exam”, which I applied, recalling what had happened to me, here in Groningen during a few oral doctoral exams]: and I still hear the iudicium in my doctoral degree: “The faculty has at last decided to let you pass”. [B]
Even after their studies, the brothers' lives ran more or less parallel for some time:
Next to Gerard’s' job at the Amsterdam Tax Authorities and that of Jan as an assistant to their admired teacher Prof. Paul Scholten, they each worked on their thesis under the guidance of their promoter - you guessed it - Paul Scholten.
In my mind I see the two brothers in their [ex-] student rooms in the parental home amidst books, old lecture notes and annotations studying their subject, interspersed with trips to the university library. Jan:
I carried many entrusted folio editions Cujacius and Donellus…. by tram, line 2, home, Koninginneweg 130 (top)… [B]
In 1937, Jan obtained his doctorate on the subject Cessie of overdracht van schuldvorderingen op naam naar Nederlands Burgerlijk Recht [i.e. Cession or transfer of registered debts in Dutch Civil Law], a book that for decades was cited as Wiarda's Cession as the comprehensive work on the subject. [B]
In 1939 Gerard planted the seed for his interest in the legal aspects of the private and public relationship between Government and Citizen, which he would always demonstrate in his publications and work with the thesis Overeenkomsten met overheidslichamen [i.e Agreements with government bodies. [D]
In time he targeted the famous notion Algemene beginselen van behoorlijk bestuur [i.e.General principles of good administration].
Jan then remained a professor at the University of Groningen from 1946 to 1979. He himself has always avoided the usual title of professor and he discouraged students and others from addressing him that way.
After a number of functions in the judiciary and a professorship in Utrecht, Gerard became a member and later President of the Dutch Supreme Court and President of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. [E]
Mother Louise died in 1931. Half a year later his brother married Alexandra Moltzer and Gerard left the parental home in Amsterdam, where Gerard and Jan had also lived during their student days. Both were fond of their mother. Jan, then 22, couldn't think of leaving his father alone in the big house, the first years after her death. In 1940 Jan married Lucie ter Braak from Eibergen .
Many years later, Father told us how much grief he had from the early death of his mother, but that he had fully reconciled with it and was actually happy that his mother, as a German born, didn’t had to experience the horrors of Nazism in all its expressions.
Gerard and Sandra had four children: Louise , Clara [Claar, for her Uncle Jan, 1934] Elise  and Just 
Jan and Lucie were blessed with four sons: Jan [1941-1993], Willem , Gerard  and Sjoerd .
Further family details of these two generations can be found in the book WIARDA 1369 - 1969, pp. 282/283, nos. XVIh and XVIj, and that of the children and grandchildren in the Wiarda booklets, Branch 7/05 - 7 / 21b.
Wiarda family life was initially very surveyable: two brothers with their wives and each with their four children. Were there any other Wiarda’s? Not that they were aware of….
With heyday in the far north, Gerard wrung his long body into a real Citroën 2CV to attend Groningen holidays.
Jan swore by the train simply because he had never learned to drive a car.
For mother Lucie this was limited to taking driving lessons in her youth in Eibergen, where she received her driving license after she had succeeded in rounding the Reformed Church opposite her parental home without dents. After that she would never turn the wheel again…
This house on the Groote Straat was the regular holiday destination for the Groningen family at Easter and the summer holidays.
In his old days, father let it slip that those holidays were always the most stressful weeks of the year for him, afraid that the four-in-hand sons from toddler to adolescent age would disturb the rest of his elderly in-laws too much.
Was this one of the reasons that Jan urged one or two of the sons to Münster and Bielefeld in Germany every summer to visit two sisters of his mother Louise - his only direct relatives on the mother's side - who were [also] born in Bielefeld?
The trip was a party for the children: from Aunt Auguste they each received a - in the period of spending restriction in the Netherlands, in the mid-1950s: special - -gift of their choice: a leather football, a real Mont Blanc fountain pen, even an original Lederhose .
And the daily Kaffee und Kuchen at Aunt Theodore was so exuberant that the sons invariably concluded with an Ich bin satt after presenting the umpteenth slice of the cake. Their first German words, pronounced with a chuckle, because the literal translation in their own language – ik ben zat - was not General Civilized Dutch and therefore out of the question at home….
ENTRANCE OF THE WIARDA'S
And then appeared in the early 1960s Onkel Siegfried from Neuenhaus, who had found Wiarda’s living in all kinds of archives all over the world - from Australia to America.
The Wiarda Family Association was founded on his proposal. It was also decided to publish a book about the ups and downs of the Wiarda family from 1369 on, the year in which the name Wiarda was first mentioned in an official Certificate.
[By the way: this reference was moreover due to a wrongful act than to the heroic action of our oldest namesakes: in a judgment of April 30, 1369, the Grietmen of the district of Winninge ruled that Wiarda's people had imprisoned a number of Frisian citizens for no reason. and that these should be set free.]
A board was formed, with German and Dutch family members.
Siegfried started production and editing of the book Wiarda 1369-1969. Many family members contributed.
The book included a family tree, in which the personal register of all Wiarda’s was divided into functional chapters - Branches / Sipping - and the elders of the Branch head/ Sippenältesten made their entrance.
The rest is history: the book was published in 1969 in Leeuwarden at the celebration of the 600th anniversary of the family.
And we went with the times: in 2019, at the commemoration of the 650th anniversary in Goutum, it was decided to design a website!
Back to the actual topic.
The professional day since 1946 often started with a bicycle ride from the house in Helpman, then uptown Groningen, to the building of the University in the centre of the city, where the lecture halls were situated.
Given the broad teaching task - Civil Law, Commercial Law International Private Law and, later, Civil Procedural Law - giving lectures was a regular activity:
Because Wiarda was often carried away by his own eloquence, his students sometimes did not know which of the many subjects they had been listening to [F]
It was reported that it often happened that at a next lecture Jan asked his student audience about what subject he had discussed the last time….
Unique in the country was his Litigation college:
a meeting during which a case invented by the students, a legal dispute, was handled and decided by them in the lecture hall throughout the academic year, in which each student had his or her own role as judge , clerk, bailiff, witness, party, lawyer and so on.
After the written procedural documents and the exchange of arguments during the year, the student court pronounced its verdict just before the start of the academic holiday, in the garden of our childhood home in Helpman, while enjoying beer and wine and mother’s homemade cheese biscuits. [G]
As the evening highlight [?] Jan appeared at the end of the party on the balcony and sang songs by his beloved Swedish composer Carl Michael Bellman, accompanying himself on his twelve-string lute. On many family visits to Sweden in his youth, he had learned the principles of that language.
To this day I meet former students of my father - I am also a lawyer, which helps - and one of the first memories, which they recall, is the garden party at the Verlengde Heereweg….
In addition to teaching, Jan has many scientific publications to his name.
It is beyond the scope of this article to write about this in more detail.
One exception is his magnum opus [1247 pages…]:
in 1957 his adaptation of a part of the so-called Asser series was published, a collection of handbooks covering various areas of law: Personal and Family Law.
As it was said later on: the size of this Asser-volume ... grew out of usual proportions, but it was consulted by every lawyer because every detail was described in it.[F]
Here, too, the elaborate footnotes may have contributed to this.
Where did Jan find all this skills and wisdom?
His own library was extensive. In the old-fashioned deep wall cabinets in his study, dozens of empty cigar boxes from his father [with images of Central Station, Rijksmuseum, etc.] served as a stepping stone for a row of books at the back, so that they remained visible, despite the books in the first row. An unprecedented technical insight for a man, who did not hesitate to ask the carpenter to turn a screw into the wall to hang a painting….
In addition, the University Library was an almost inexhaustible source of books and writings, which really had to be consulted for an article [completeness, remember…]. The books were borrowed by cart loads and because a cart/car was not part of the household goods, everything was carried along on the back of the bicycle. To be returned by taxi after several warnings from the University Library that the loan period had long passed and with a sorry-cake for the employees, on the very last day before school holidays…
Jan's writing life was more and more dominated by his inner conviction and attitude to life, expressed by, among others, the frequently quoted Roman jurists Justinian and Ulpianus, in the ius est ars aequi et boni and honest vivere, neminem laedere et suum cuique tribuere. [Justice is the art of living honestly and the good, honourable life, not hurting one another and giving each one his due. In other words: honest living, reasonableness and fairness.
The choice of the subject of his thesis mentioned above - de Cessie - does not yet indicate this. As an explanation goes that this subject had been suggested to him by his promotor Paul Scholten, because - in his words - your Father's Chamber [in the Court of Appeal; ww] recently issued a judgment about this, which has been annulled by the Supreme Court. It is up to you to study this case.[B]
Nor does the revision of the handbook the Bill of Exchange and Check Law, published in 1950. After all, this was a subject with a specific business character. Jan could not decline the invitation to revise the book of the widow of the editor of the previous edition, his teacher F.G. Scheltema [1891-1939], and his brother and colleague in Groningen. H.J. Scheltema….
In his inaugural speech at the University of Groningen in 1947 [English translation] About the nature and meaning of legal principles, in particular the principles of good faith and fairness in our positive law, his thoughts on law and morality are clearly expressed, which he later elaborated on in various publications, very prominent in his prorectoral speech in 1963 Mercatura Honesta, on the connection between commercial law and commercial morality. [H]
This speech frequently refers to the 16th-century theologian Dirk Volkertsz Coornhert, the tolerant humanist, heretic both Roman Catholics and Mennonites, who may count as an important leader in his legal philosophy to think. As Jan put it in an interview in 1991 [J]:
A virtuous and just life, the art of living, one of the most beautiful Commandments, but people no longer know it. They no longer know who Coornhert is, the apostle of the tolerance and author of the wonderful “Moral Art that is the Art of Well-Being. "
Jan's legal interest shifted thinking from the “I”, the material, the property law - in his words: “business law is such a greedy right” [G] - to the immaterial “We”, the person, the community, the brotherhood.
“All people are your brothers”, I sang for years in the Amsterdam Music Choir, conducted by Willem Mengelberg. This also applies to the largest criminals. Just tell me what's right. You have to understand that people are so incredibly complicated. [J]
Jan referred to his mother, who had trained him with the Alle Menschen werden Brüder, and: I am also a Liberal ,an Arminian, so I don't think along specific lines. [G]
With the spirit of honesty and reasonableness and fairness as constant factors in his way of thinking, those lines were less pronounced in his previous publications on legal claims and commercial law Business transactions simply require a clear legal framework [his words: but what is clear?]. In family law the margin for human relations can play a greater role. There too, however, it cannot result in a complete Vrijheid, Blijheid [Be Happy and Free], his motto in life.
The same motto is fully in line with the statement of principle of the Remonstrant Brotherhood, which places worship to Our Lord - it says God, but Jan found this name too distant and did not use it - faithful to our principle of freedom and tolerance.
Originally raised, he remained throughout his life a faithful and active Arminian.
The aforementioned Handbook on Personal and Family Law from 1957 shows Jan's growing interest in the more conceptual legal areas.
Among many other subjects, civil youth law is thoroughly discussed from the beginning in classic antiquity.
Thus it was not surprising that in 1965 Jan was appointed chairman of the Government Commission for Juvenile Justice, which prepared a major change to the entire system of juvenile justice and youth protection. Many recommendations of the committee from its report Youth Protection Law  on, among other things, adoption, parental rights and the position of stepchildren have led to various statutory regulations, the best known of which is the law - only introduced in 1988, civil mills - to lower the age of majority from 21 to 18 years…
His university career ended in 1979.
In a letter of November 5, 1979 to the more than fifty persons, who wrote to me that they could not attend my farewell lecture on Tuesday, September 18, 1979, he wrote:
The subject of the college was: LAW. BROTHERHOOD. COMMUNITY. CHARITY. FAITH . And the intention of this is that we should think less in terms of “law” ; and more in terms of “brotherhood, communion, charity, faith/faithfulness” (not to mention the question whether or not these concepts can and may be distinguished!). In doing so, I recalled a few things from the 1909-1979 development of legislation and case law;
and, remembering the performance of the orchestra DE HARMONIE…
before …[the orchestra] son Gerard with his baton; looked at me with a look and attitude that I will never forget.
In short, about everything that was close to his heart in his personal and professional life.
It was a real “happening” that lasted for hours and which, as he did often, ended by singing some old Dutch and Swedish songs while accompanying himself on the lute. [H]
Even after his retirement, Jan continued to read the 7 [seven!] Magazines to which he remained subscribed, as well as the handbooks, but only as far as those parts of the law which were of particular interest to him. He also continued to publish, especially in so called Libri Amicorum for colleagues in the country who were taking leave. [K]
Do you remember the cigar boxes in the bookcases in his room?
After his death in 1993, the question was what to do with those thousands of books and writings - including his own lecture notes as a student and as a professor….
It was a god sent that the Library of Groningen University offered to take stock of the collection.
Everything was transported to the library in a three-ton truck. Two years later, the University Library invited us to view the result of the inventory: every item was neatly classified and catalogued… 240 running meters….
Specially the librarian mentioned that there were 70 titles , which were not part of the University Library itself.
The family was given the opportunity to find out which items they wanted to keep and subsequently donated the entire library to the University Library.
HIS LIFE BESIDES THE LAW
In addition to the legal work, there was time for social activities.
As chairman of the Groningen branch of child protection association Pro Juventute, he regularly visited pupils in family replacement institutions across the country. During holidays sometimes accompanied by a son, their contemporaries, to make easy contact.
Jan was also for many years a member of the Education Council for Scientific Education, an advisory board of the national government.
And in his spare time? Music and Walking.
In Groningen, Jan continued his love of singing, which he had started in Amsterdam in the Amsterdam Toonkunstkoor under Willem Mengelberg, the conductor of the Concertgebouworkest.
In Groningen for years he attended every Monday the repetitions of the Music Choir Bekker, a broad repertoire from Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher from Honegger to, of course, Bach’s Matthaeus Passion. The latter with, partly successively, the four sons in the boys' choir, as long as their voices were not breaking….
At every family celebration a self made song on an old German [Boerlala, Jan Hinnirk] or Swedish melody, with lute!
Walking and cycling on the Wadden Islands, until every beach and dune pan had been visited, all the lighthouses had been climbed and the last self-stuck kite had failed. Then, the Austrian Alps became a regular destination during the summer holidays.
Not to forget the annual walk with “his” students in the neighbouring national park Appèlbergen,
The sons have fond memories of the three-day hikes, they each made with their father in his seventies in the German region Sauerland: eight hours a day next to your dearest stroller, constantly humming, and then a glass of beer ...
This is a story about my father.
But it is only half the story: it is not complete without my mother's share,… his wife, who was not unjustly called the mother of the faculty… [G]
Without her, Jan would have sailed unruly through the waves in the oceans of all those letters in books, brochures and numerous articles, enjoying the beauty of legally coloured vistas and destinations looming in the fog. But without worrying about the course, wind direction, position of the sails, forage [have I already had my second cup of tea?]. And above all, the unconditional support of the real captain!
A loving couple, more than 50 years…
Mother, who engraved a glass artwork for her Jan with Vondel's text:
Waar werd oprechter trouw
dan tussen man en vrouw,
ter wereld ooit gevonden.
[where does one find fidelity
as between a man and his lady
anywhere in the world…]
And father who presented every Saint Nicholas a chocolate letter to his Lucie with the text:
De L-iefste letter, gij weet het wel,
blijft voor mij de letter… L!
[the letter L of Love, you know it so well,
to me forever remains … the letter L ]
Witten by Willem Wiarda, Broek in Waterland, 10th of April 2020
[A] WIARDA 1369 – 1969,
uitgeverij Osinga, 1969
[B] Ars Aequi,
"juridisch studentenblad, nr 34  12 [special “Op gezag van…”]",
[C] Jan Wiarda,
"proefschrift Cessie of overdracht van schuldvorderingen op naam naar Nederlands Burgerlijk Recht, 15.01.1937",
[D] Overeenkomsten met overheidslichamen,
[E] Tjeenk Willink,
"Ex tunc ex nunc, bundel interviews met o.a. Gerardus Johannes Wiarda, W.E.J.",
[F] Jan Lokin,
"De Groningse faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid",
uitgeverij Boom, 2019
[G] Terecht Gesteld ,Groninger juridisch fakulteitsblad, Wiarda nummer,
"jaargang 14.1, 18.09.79",
[H] Mercatura Honesta,
[K] Nederlands Juristenblad,
jaargang 65, 13.12.90