Cappelen (family)

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Ethnicity German-Norwegian
Current region Norway
Place of origin Germany

Cappelen is a German-origined Norwegian family. Johan von Cappelen immigrated to Norway in 1653, and became bailiff in Lier. A number of his descendants were businessmen, land owners, civil servants and politicians. The family is especially known for the former publishing company J.W. Cappelens Forlag. Variants of the name Cappelen are also used throughout Germany by many other families.


The family originated in Cappeln near Wildeshausen in Oldenburg in Lower Saxony, Germany with Johan von Cappelen (1627–1688), who immigrated to Norway from Bremen in 1653. Johan von Cappelen bought several properties and ended as a bailiff in Lier in Buskerud County, Norway. The family's main branches originated from three of his sons:

  • Johan von Cappelen junior (1658–1698), after his father was bailiff in Lier, Norway
  • Ulrich Friderich von Cappelen (1668–1722), timber merchant and ran a sawmill in Skien in Telemark County, Norway
  • Gabriel von Cappelen (1674–1758), timber merchant in Bragernes in Drammen in Buskerud County, Norway

Jørgen Wright Cappelen, a later member of the family, founded the publishing house J. W. Cappelens Forlag. The family in Norway had stopped using the von in the 19th century.[1]

Notable members and descendants[edit]


Coat of arms[edit]

Silver cup with the family arms from Johan von Cappelen Junior (died 1698)

The family coat of arms were lawfully assumed in Norway in 1683: The shield is parted in two fields, the first and upper one having the mother pelican feeding its young with its own blood (a pelican in its piety), and the second field has three blooming roses with leaves and stems. On top of the shield is a helmet with a crest: two buffalo horns and between them the symbol of Fortune being a naked woman holding a ship's sail in her hands and standing on an orb.[2]

The Ulefoss-line of the family has, however, dropped Fortune and uses the two horns only. The various lines of the family have different heraldic colours (tinctures) in the arms.[3]

In Germany the family used a merchant's mark.[4]


  1. ^ Cappelen (Store norske leksikon)
  2. ^ Heraldisk nøkkel(Herman Leopoldus Løvenskiold. 1978. Oslo: Universitetsforl) ISBN 978-82-00-01697-7
  3. ^ Norske slektsvåpen (Hans Cappelen. 1976)
  4. ^ Fabelwesen der Heraldik in Familien- und Stadtewappen (Carl Alexander Von Volborth. (1996) ISBN 978-3-7630-2329-5)

Other sources[edit]