Antoon Jurgens

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Antoon Jurgens

Antoon Jurgens was a Dutch merchant and industrialist, born in Oss, The Netherlands in 1805, and died there in 1880. He founded a butter company that grew to be one of the largest butter and margarine companies in Europe. His company was instrumental in the formation of Margarine Unie which, in 1930, merged with Lever Brothers to form Unilever.


He was the son of Wilhelmus Jurgens and Henrica van Valkenburg.

On 19 May 1832 Jurgens married Johanna Lemmens, who was the daughter of the Lord Mayor of Beugen and Rijkevoort, Arnoldus Ambrosius Lemmens and his wife Dorothea van de Voordt, whose family also produced several Lord Mayors of Beugen en Rijkevoort.

Civic activities[edit]

From 1844 to 1850 Jurgens was a member of the Council of Oss.

Business activities[edit]

Jurgens was educated to be a merchant, and in 1820 became a butter merchant in Oss, the Netherlands. The demand for butter increased because of the Belgian Revolt, which caused a large number of soldiers to be stationed in that part Noord-Brabant of the Netherlands. After his father's death in 1836, he and his brothers continued the family company.

In a notary document of 25 April 1867, he and his sons Jan, Hendrikus, and Arnoldus, formed a limited company under the name Antoon Jurgens, to actively pursue wholesale trade in butter, and to create a dairy farm. Hendrikus was their accountant.[1] They bought butter in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. The butter was brought to Oss, where it was treated, packed and shipped. They exported to England, France, Belgium, and Germany.

By the end of the 1860s the company had become one of the largest butter merchants in Europe, and Jurgens was one of the richest people in the Netherlands.

In May 1871, through the butter industry Jurgens met Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, a Frenchman, who had invented margarine. Mege-Mouries had licensed his patent to business in other countries but not to anyone in the Netherlands, as the Netherlands did not have a patent law until 1910. Jurgens paid for a demonstration of Mege-Mouries' process. Later that year Jurgens started experimental production of margarine to which initially real butter was added. Over time the butter was totally replaced by much cheaper vegetable oils.


Around 1875 Jurgens wound down his activities in the company. As a Roman Catholic he bequeathed, in 1876, a head altar to the Great Church of Oss, the Netherlands.

Business legacy[edit]

The company became one of the largest butter and margarine business in Europe. It was one of the two companies whose merger, in 1927, sparked the formation of Margarine Unie, which three years later, in 1930, joined Lever Brothers to create Unilever.


Antoon Jurgens and his wife Johanna Lemmens had 10 children, of whom three sons who continued the margarine factory after his death in 1880. They were:

  • Johannes Arnoldus Jurgens (1835–1913)
  • Hendrikus Leonardus Jurgens (1840–1888)
  • Arnoldus Jurgens (1842–1912)


  1. ^ Nederlandse Staatscourant, 6 augustus 1867
  • "Jurgens Generaties in Beweging" ( Generations on the move) by M.A.J.Jurgens and drs. F.J.M. van de Ven, Volume I (Family History) and II (Company history)
  • Nederlands Patriciaat,Ao 1999, 82e Edition.Genealogy of the Jurgens family
  • Nederlandse Staatscourant, 6 augustus 1867

External links[edit]