Berenberg family

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Berenberg/Gossler
Berenberg coat of arms.svg
Ethnicity Flemish
Current region  Germany
Place of origin Gummersbach
Connected families Amsinck
Distinctions Hereditary Grand Burghers of Hamburg from 1684; senators and First Mayor of Hamburg; ennobled in Prussia in 1888; Baronial rank in 1910
Name origin and meaning Bear mountain
Coat of arms of the Berenberg family. Detail from a 1710 painting of Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711)

The Berenberg family, and later its descendants in the Gossler and Seyler families, is a Hanseatic dynasty of merchants, bankers and senators based in Hamburg and with branches in Livorno and other European cities, and one of the world's oldest existing banking dynasties with a history spanning over 400 years. The family is descended from Flemish brothers Hans and Paul Berenberg ("Bear Mountain") from Antwerp (in modern Belgium), who fled persecution of Protestants in the Low Countries in 1585 and established the merchant house now known as Berenberg Bank in Hamburg in 1590. Berenberg Bank is Germany's oldest bank, the world's second oldest bank and also the world's oldest family owned bank. The Berenbergs were originally cloth merchants and have been merchant bankers and investment bankers since the 17th century. The family has had a close relationship to the Dutch-origined Amsinck merchant family over centuries and is also descended from the Welser banking family.

As Johann Berenberg died without male heirs, the bank was passed on to his daughter Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822) and her family. Elisabeth's husband Johann Hinrich Gossler was made co-owner and heir by his father in law in 1769, and Gossler made his own son in law Ludwig Erdwin Seyler a partner in 1788. From 1790, Elisabeth was a partner in her own right, before passing control to Seyler and her son Johann Heinrich Gossler alone in 1800. The latter's grandson Johann Gossler was granted the name Berenberg-Gossler by the Senate of Hamburg in 1880, subsequently ennobled by Prussia in 1888 and granted the title Baron in 1910. The bank is still owned by his descendants, the von Berenberg-Gossler family.

The Berenberg family and later the Gossler (Berenberg-Gossler) and Seyler families belonged to the ruling class of the city republic, known as Grand Burghers or Hanseaten, enjoying hereditary legal privileges (abolished 1918), and the Berenbergs were represented in the senate from 1735. From 1821, several Gosslers were also senators, and Hermann Gossler reached the highest position in Hamburg society as First Mayor and President of the Senate (i.e. head of state and head of government of the city republic and equal to the federal princes). Richard J. Evans describes the family as one of Hamburg's "great business families."[1] The Gossler Islands in Antarctica are named for the family.

History[edit]

The Berenbergs in Berg and Brabant[edit]

Antwerp in modern Belgium in 1572

The Berenberg family originates from the Bergisches Land region in the Duchy of Berg. Its earliest known ancestor, Thillmann Berenberg, was born on the Groß-Berenberg estate in 1465, and was a cloth merchant.

The growing linen industry of Brabant led Thillmann's son, Jan Berenberg (born 1490 in Gummersbach, died 1549 in Lier, Belgium), to take his family to Lier in Antwerp, where he became a burgher in 1515. He was married to Engele Segers, and they were the parents of Paul Berenberg (born ca. 1533 in Lier, died 1623 in Antwerp), who was a cloth merchant in Antwerp and who married Anna Kriekart from Everbroek. Paul Berenberg was the father of Hans (1561–1626) and Paul Berenberg (1566–1645). The two brothers married sisters Anna (1557–1635) and Francina Snellinck (1559–1642), daughters of the Antwerp merchant Andries Snellinck (1531–1606) and Françoise (Francina) de Rénialme (1539–1610).

The Berenbergs were one of 130 Dutch families that had become Lutheran during the Reformation. During the Eighty Years' War, the family fled Lier and settled in the nearby city of Antwerp (Stade). The family left Antwerp in 1585 as a result of the Fall of Antwerp, when the city was conquered by Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma. The strongly fortified city, Europe's leading commercial centre at the time, was defended with resolute determination and courage by its citizens, but ultimately fell, and around 60% of the city's pre-siege population fled the city, fearing Spanish massacres or forced conversion to Catholicism.

Grand burghers of Hamburg[edit]

Hamburg ca. 1600

Many Dutch refugees settled in Hamburg, among them the brothers Hans and Paul Berenberg. In 1590, they founded the merchant house now known as Berenberg Bank. They were originally cloth merchants and active in the import-export business. In Hamburg, the Berenbergs initially formed part of a Dutch colony and intermarried with the city's leading Hanseatic families, several of which were also of Dutch descent (e.g. Amsinck). While a number of Dutch refugees became Hamburg citizens, Hans and Paul Berenberg were not prepared to take that step. In 1605, the Hamburg council issued a decree that gave the Dutch merchants the same rights as the burghers of Hamburg.

Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711)

Hans Berenberg's son was also named Hans Berenberg (1593–1640), and was married to Adelheid Ruhlant (1611–1684), daughter of the advocate Rütger Ruhlant (1568–1630) who was ennobled by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1622, and Catarina de Greve (1582–1655). Their son, Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711), was the first to engage in merchant banking and developed the company into a very successful merchant house and merchant bank. He forged trade links with France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Scandinavia and Russia. Family connections of the Berenbergs were instrumental to the development, especially in Livorno and Lisbon with its colonies of wealthy Dutch merchants.[2] Cornelius Berenberg was also the first Berenberg to take the oath as a Hamburg burgher in 1684; the family thus became part of Hamburg's ruling class of Grand Burghers. Cornelius Berenberg's son, Rudolf Berenberg (1680–1746), was elected a Senator in 1735. By the mid 18th century, investment banking and acceptance credits comprised a significant part of the firm's activities. Rudolf Berenberg was married to Anna Elisabeth Amsinck (1690–1748), the daughter of Paul Amsinck (1649–1706), a merchant of Hamburg and Lisbon, who was descended from the Welser family. They were the parents of Rudolf Berenberg (1712–61), a merchant in Hamburg, Cornelius Berenberg (1714–73), a merchant in Livorno, Senator Paul Berenberg (1716–1768) and of Johann Berenberg (1718–1772), a co-owner and later sole owner of the Berenberg company.

Johann Hinrich Gossler (1738–90), who married Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822)

The Gossler and Seyler families[edit]

The Berenberg family were merchants, bankers and senators in Hamburg for almost two centuries until the banking branch of the Berenberg family became extinct in the male line. However, Berenberg Bank was passed on to the descendants of Johann Berenberg (1718–1772) in the female line. After Senator Paul Berenberg died childless in 1768, his brother Johann Berenberg took on his son-in-law Johann Hinrich Gossler (1738–90) as a partner and eventually sole heir, as he was married to Johann Berenberg's only surviving child, Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822). The historian Percy Ernst Schramm describes their marriage as a marriage of convenience; she was not considered beautiful, but was intelligent, cultivated, kind, spoke many languages (including Latin) and became an exemplary wife and mother. She survived her husband by 32 years and after his death managed the firm together with her son-in-law.[3][4]

In 1788, Johann Hinrich Gossler bought the Mortzenhaus palace in Alter Wandrahm 101 (later 21). Built in 1621 with a renaissance facade, it was one of the largest and most well known palaces in Hamburg. The building was owned by the Gossler family until the 1880s, when it was demolished to make room for the Speicherstadt.

Ludwig Erdwin Seyler (1758–1836), who married Anna Henriette Gossler (1771–1836), eldest daughter of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg

Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg's eldest daughter, Anna Henriette Gossler, was married to Ludwig Erdwin Seyler, a son of the Swiss-born merchant turned theatre director Abel Seyler—the leading patron of German theatre in the late 18th century—and stepson of actress Friederike Sophie Seyler, the author of Hüon und Amande (that inspired The Magic Flute). Seyler was descended on his father's side from families of the Basel patriciate, notably Burckhardt, Merian and Faesch, while his mother's family were noted as court pharmacists and owners of the renowned Andreae & Co. pharmacy in Hanover. In 1788, Johann Hinrich Gossler took on his son-in-law as a partner in the firm, and after Gossler's death in 1790, Seyler became head of the firm (which he renamed Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co. in 1791) and also served as President of the Commerz-Deputation 1817–1818. During the Napoleonic War, Seyler temporarily moved the headquarters of the Berenberg company to the house of his son-in-law, Gerhard von Hosstrup.

Anna Henriette Gossler's younger brother Johann Heinrich Gossler became a partner in 1798, and was elected a senator of Hamburg in 1821. Several other family members also served as senators, with Hermann Gossler becoming First Mayor (a position equal to the federal princes, Bundesfürsten). In 1880, Johann Berenberg Gossler (who had Berenberg as a middle name) and his descendants were granted the name Berenberg-Gossler by the Hamburg Senate. The Berenberg-Gosslers were ennobled in the Kingdom of Prussia (which was technically a foreign country) in 1888 and raised to Baronial rank in 1910.[5] The Prussian ennoblement was somewhat controversial in the family and in Hamburg, as the grand burghers of Hamburg mostly considered the nobility inferior to Hanseatic families.[6] According to Richard J. Evans, "the wealthy of nineteenth-century Hamburg were for the most part stern republicans, abhorring titles, refusing to accord any deference to the Prussian nobility, and determinedly loyal to their urban background and mercantile heritage."[7] As Johann Berenberg-Gossler was ennobled, his sister Susanne, married Amsinck, exclaimed "Aber John, unser guter Name!"[6]

In the 19th century, the Berenberg-Gosslers were strongly involved in the industrialisation process in northern Germany and in the North American trade and its finance. In 1847, the Berenberg-Gosslers were the main founders of the Hamburg America Line (HAPAG) together with the merchant house H.J. Merck & Co., and in 1857 they were among the main founders of the Norddeutscher Lloyd. They also financed the ironworks of Ilseder Hütte. The houses of Berenberg-Gossler, H.J. Merck and Salomon Heine were also the main founders of the Norddeutsche Bank in 1856, the first joint-stock bank in northern Germany and one of the predecessors of Deutsche Bank.[8]

During the Nazi era, the Berenberg-Gossler family—themselves descended from religious refugees—especially Baron Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler, were strongly involved in helping Jewish-origined friends and associates in Hamburg who faced persecution, securing the release of Fritz Warburg in 1939.[9]

Joachim von Berenberg-Consbruch was the last family member to serve as a personally liable partner (until 2005). While the family still owns 25% of Berenberg Bank, no family members are currently actively involved in the management of the bank. The last family member to work for the bank was Countess Jennifer von Bernstorff, a great-granddaughter of Cornelius von Berenberg-Gossler and a co-owner of the bank.

In Hamburg, the Gossler Park in Blankenese is named after the family.

In 18th and 19th century Hamburg, a marriage to a Berenberg/Gossler or the closely related Amsinck family could greatly advance one's social position, as was the case with Hamburg head of state Max Predöhl.[10][11]

Properties[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Coat of arms[edit]

The Berenbergs used as their coat of arms a bear (im goldenen Felde auf einem grünen Schildfuß ein nach rechts aufgerichteter schwarzer Bär mit goldenem Halsband, in den Vorderpranken einen grünen Zweig haltend).[12] The coat of arms is known since the 17th century and was most likely adopted no later than the 16th century in Lier, Belgium. As of 1699, the Berenberg coat of arms was still visible in the church windows in Lier.[13]

In 1773, Johann Hinrich Gossler adopted as his coat of arms a geese foot. From 1832, the family used a more complicated coat of arms.

Upon being ennobled by Prussia in 1889, the family was granted a coat of arms combining the Berenberg and 1773 Gossler coats of arms.[14] This coat of arms is also used as the logo of Berenberg Bank.

Lineage[edit]

Berenberg Bank partners in bold.

  • 1. Jan Berenberg (1490–1549), burgher of Lier, married Engele Segers
    • 2. Paul Berenberg (1533–1603), merchant in Antwerp, married Anna Kriekhart (1537–)
      • 3. Hans Berenberg (1561–1626), merchant in Hamburg, married Anna Snellinck (1557–1635), daughter of Andries Snellinck (1531–1606) and Françoise (Francina) de Rénialme (1539–1610)
        • 4. Francina Berenberg (1591–1628), married Arnold Amsinck (1579–1656)
        • 4. Hans Berenberg (1593–1640), merchant, married 1) Elisabeth Amsinck (1622–1699) and 2) Adelheid Ruhlant (1611–1684), daughter of Rütger Ruhlant (1568–1630, ennobled 1622) and Catarina de Greve (1582–1655)
          • 5. (of father's first marriage) Johann (John) Berenberg (1622–1699), merchant, married Magdalene de Hertoghe (1619–1694)
          • 5. Rudolf Berenberg (1623–1672), merchant, married Susanna de Hertoghe (1617–1674)
          • 5. (of father's second marriage) Cornelius Berenberg (1634–1711), merchant, married Anna Margaretha Colin (1649–1684), daughter of Daniel Colin (1615–1660) and Elisabeth Adelheid Engels (1620–1659)
            • 6. Rudolf Berenberg (1680–1746), merchant, President of the Commerz-Deputation 1728–1729 and Senator from 1735, married Anna Elisabeth Amsinck (1690–1748), daughter of Paul Amsinck (1649–1706) and Christina Adelheid Capelle (1663–1730)
              • 7. Rudolf Berenberg (1712–1761), merchant in Hamburg
              • 7. Cornelius Berenberg (1714–1773), merchant in Livorno
              • 7. Paul Berenberg (1716–1768), Senator, co-owner of Berenberg Bank
              • 7. Johann Berenberg (1718–1772), sole owner of Berenberg Bank, married Anna Maria Lastrop (1723–1761)
                • 8. Rudolf Berenberg (1748–1768)
                • 8. Elisabeth Berenberg (1749–1822), married Johann Hinrich Gossler (1738–90), sole owner of Berenberg Bank
                  • 9. Anna Henriette Gossler (1771–1836), married Ludwig Erdwin Seyler (1758–1836), co-owner of Berenberg Bank, President of the Commerz-Deputation 1817–1818
                  • 9. Johann Nicolaus Gossler (1774-1848)
                  • 9. Johann Heinrich Gossler II (1775–1842) (birth year reported as 1772 by some sources), Senator, co-owner of Berenberg Bank
                    • 10. Emilie Gossler (1799-1875), married Johannes Amsinck (1792–1879)
                    • 10. Hermann Gossler (1802–1877), Senator and First Mayor
                    • 10. Johann Heinrich Gossler III (1805-1879), co-owner of Berenberg Bank, consul-general of Hawaii, married Mary Elizabeth Bray (1810–1886), a granddaughter of Samuel Eliot
                      • 11. Marianne Gossler (1830–1908), married Friedrich Wilhelm Burchard (1824–1892), co-owner of Berenberg Bank
                        • 12. Johann Heinrich Burchard (1852–1912), First Mayor, married Emily Henriette Amsinck (1858–1931)
                        • 12. Ulrich Hermann Christoph Burchard (1861–1926), married Olga Juliane Amsinck (1865–)
                      • 11. Frances Eliot Gossler (1832–59), married Hermann Ludwig Behn (1820–1901)
                      • 11. Susanne Catharine Gossler (1835–), married Martin Garlieb Amsinck (1831–1905)
                      • 11. Baron Johann von Berenberg-Gossler (known as John) (1839–1913), co-owner of Berenberg Bank, married to Juliane Amalie Donner (1843–1916)
                      • 11. John Henry Gossler (1849–1914), merchant
                    • 10. Ernst Gossler (1806-1889), married Mathilde Huffel
                      • 11. Oscar Gossler (1843–), married Elizabeth Gossler (1848–)
                        • 12. Emmy Gossler, married Wilhelm Amsinck (1869–)
                    • 10. Susanna Helene Gossler (1808-1893), married Senator Ami de Chapeaurouge
                    • 10. Wilhelm Gossler (1811-1895), married Margarete Elisabeth Donner, served as President of the Commerz-Deputation 1853
                      • 11. Elizabeth Gossler (1848–), married Oscar Gossler (1843–) (see above)
                    • 10. Gustav Gossler (1813-1844)
          • 5. Anna Berenberg (1639–1669), married Rudolf Capelle (1635–1684)
            • 6. Christina Adelheid Capelle (1663–1730) (see above)
        • 4. Andreas Berenberg (1595–1661), merchant in Hamburg, married Sara de Hertoghe (1605–1678)
        • 4. Anna Berenberg (1599–1639), married Senator Hermann Langenbeck (1596–1668)
      • 3. Paul Berenberg (1566–1645), married Francina Snellinck (1559–1642)
        • 4. Francina Berenberg (1601–1641), married Johan van Uffelen (1589–1657)

Notable descendants of Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg[edit]

Child portrait of Helene Kaemmerer (1869–1953), daughter of banker Georg Heinrich Kaemmerer and maternal granddaughter of Hamburg head of state Hermann Gossler (exhibited in the Hamburg Museum)

Johann Hinrich Gossler and Elisabeth Berenberg, founders of the Berenberg-Gossler family, have many notable descendants in Germany, Norway and other countries with names including Gossler, Seyler, von Berenberg-Gossler, von Hosstrup, Pinckernelle, Schramm, Burchard, Wegner, Amsinck, Paus, Kaemmerer and von Bernstorff.

Ludwig Erdwin Seyler and Anna Henriette Gossler's great-grandson Harald Nørregaard, painted by Edvard Munch (1899). The painting is owned by the National Gallery of Norway

Other Berenberg descendants[edit]

Among other Berenberg descendants are members of virtually all old Hamburg Hanseatic families, as well as King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (a descendant of Berenberg Bank co-founder Paul Berenberg (1566–1645) and Francina Snellinck (1559–1642)).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard J. Evans, "Family and Class in Hamburg," in D. Blackbourn (ed.), The German Bourgeoisie, p. 122, Routledge, 1993
  2. ^ Karl Lanz, Banken der Welt, F. Knapp, 1963
  3. ^ Percy Ernst Schramm, Neun Generationen: Dreihundert Jahre deutscher "Kulturgeschichte" im Lichte der Schicksale einer Hamburger Bürgerfamilie (1648–1948). Vol. I and II, Göttingen 1963/64.
  4. ^ "Johann Hinrich Gossler," in Hamburgische Biografie-Personenlexikon, Vol. 2, ed. by Franklin Kopitzsch, Dirk Brietzke, pp. 153–154
  5. ^ German bank enters UK market, Wold Finance
  6. ^ a b Renate Hauschild-Thiessen: "Adel und Bürgertum in Hamburg." In: Hamburgisches Geschlechterbuch. 14, 1997, p. 30.
  7. ^ Richard J. Evans, Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years 1830–1910, Oxford, 1987, p. 560
  8. ^ Michael North: "The Great German Banking Houses and International Merchants, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Century", in: Alice Teichova, Ginette Kurgan-Van Hentenryk and Dieter Ziegler (eds.), Banking, Trade and Industry: Europe, America and Asia from the Thirteenth to the Twentieth Century, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780521188876, p. 46
  9. ^ Götz Aly, Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland: Deutsches Reich : 1938 - August 1939, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2009
  10. ^ Predöhl, Andreas, Das Ende der Weltwirtschaftskrise, Reinbek, 1962
  11. ^ Richard J. Evans, Death in Hamburg, 1987
  12. ^ Wanda Oesau, Hamburgs Grönlandfahrt auf Walfischfang und Robbenschlag vom 17.-19. Jahrhundert, J.J. Augustin, 1955, p. 116
  13. ^ "Die Berenberg-Gossler," in: Vierteljahrsschrift für Wappen-, Siegel- und Familienkunde, Vol. 9 s. 1, 1881
  14. ^ Marcelli Janecki, Handbuch des preussischen Adels: Hrsg. Unter Förderung des Königlichen Herolds-Amtes, Vol 1, E. S. Mittler, 1892

Literature[edit]

  • "Freiherren von Berenberg-Gossler," in Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Band 16, Freiherrliche Häuser B II, C. A. Starke Verlag, Limburg (Lahn) 1957
  • Berenberg/Gossler, Neue Deutsche Biographie
  • Percy Ernst Schramm, Neun Generationen: Dreihundert Jahre deutscher Kulturgeschichte im Lichte der Schicksale einer Hamburger Bürgerfamilie (1648–1948). Vol. I and II, Göttingen 1963/64.
  • Percy Ernst Schramm, Kaufleute zu Haus und über See. Hamburgische Zeugnisse des 17., 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts, Hamburg, Hoffmann und Campe, 1949
  • Percy Ernst Schramm, "Kaufleute während Besatzung, Krieg und Belagerung (1806–1815) : der Hamburger Handel in der Franzosenzeit, dargestellt an Hand von Firmen- und Familienpapieren." Tradition: Zeitschrift für Firmengeschichte und Unternehmerbiographie, Vol. 4. Jahrg., No. 1. (Feb 1959), pp. 1–22. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40696638
  • Percy Ernst Schramm, "Hamburger Kaufleute in der 2. Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts," in: Tradition. Zeitschrift für Firmengeschichte und Unternehmerbiographie 1957, No 4., pp. 307–332. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40696554
  • Percy Ernst Schramm, Die Vorfahren der Anna Maria Berenberg, geb. Lastrop (1723–61), 1957
  • Hamburgische Biografie-Personenlexikon, Vol. 2, ed. by Franklin Kopitzsch, Dirk Brietzke
  • Joh. Berenberg, Gossler & Co.: Die Geschichte eines deutschen Privatbankhauses, Berenberg Bank, Hamburg 1990
  • Manfred Pohl, Handbook on the History of European Banks, European Association for Banking History, p. 362
  • Renate Hauschild-Thiessen, "Johann Berenberg (1674–1749) und seine Genealogien," Hamburgische Geschichts- und Heimatblätter 10.8 (Dec 1981): 183–186
  • Arne C. Wasmuth og Torsten A. Reimers, Hanseatische Dynastien. Alte Hamburger Familien öffnen ihre Alben, 2001, ISBN 3434525890

Furthermore, the Staatsarchiv Hamburg contains extensive Berenberg/Gossler materials.

External links[edit]