Peder Johnsen was born at Tvedestrand in Aust-Agder, Norway. He was the youngest of ten siblings. Johnsen served as a commissioner officer in the Royal Norwegian Navy. He was an accountant at Kristiansand shipyard in Vest-Agder, before he was assigned as a Midshipman. In later years, he was the captain of the bark De Tvende Brødre.
Peder Johnsen represented The Royal Norwegian Navy (Søe-Deffensionen) at the Norwegian Constituent Assembly. together with Jens Schow Fabricius, Thomas Konow, and Even Thorsen. He belonged to the independence party (Selvstendighetspartiet).  
In 1810, Peder Johnsen married Catharine Margrethe Nielsdatter (1788-1832). They were the parents of seven children. The family lived on Skippergata street in the central business district of Kvadraturen in Kristiansand. 
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