Doris Martens 1815-1902

Doris Martens was baptised Anna Dorothea, but came to be called only Doris.
Her story is closely linked to the merchant family Hoë. In the eighteenth century they were the driving force behind one of the most dominant merchant houses in Trondheim. The founder Herman Hoë, from Flensburg, Germany (as the custom was), established his business in Trondheim in the 1770s. The Hoë enterprise was especially known for its large fleet of ships.
After the senior Hoë retired, the firm was led by his son-in-law Herman Garmann. After he died in 1853, the son Gerhard Fredrik Hoë was the sole owner until he died in 1877. Gerhard Fredrik was unmarried and had no children, so the firm passed out of history with him.
Herman Hoë had four daughters. The oldest was married to the above-mentioned Garmann. Daughter number two, called Dorthea, married Ditlef Martens, the son of a vicar, whose background was from the Lorck merchant house. These parents then had the daughter Anna Dorothea (Doris) in 1815. Ditlef and Dorthea did not have a good life together. Their domestic disharmony led to a separation in 1821. Ditlef died the following year from an “attack of apoplexy”.
In the following years the mother and the daughter probably continued to live together. Doris never married. They benefited from the family firm's solid financial background and probably lived in the family residence on Søgaden (now called Kjøpmannsgata 32, it was demolished and Daniels Pub now stands there in 2013). We can imagine that they lived closely together with the unmarried brother/uncle Gerhard Fredrik, after the parents died around 1840.
The firm went out of business in 1877, the same year both the mother Dorthea and uncle Gerhard died. But it left a large fortune to be distributed to the relatively few heirs. Doris then gradually started to share her fortune with those who were less well off. She is described as "supremely beneficial", and her attitude was quite legendary. Every Saturday, money was given away to the needy from the address on Kjøpmannsgata. Other charities also received funds, but everything would take place without much attention and outside the public spotlight.
She died, old and still well off, in March 1902. Many had debts of gratitude to Doris Martens. For her funeral the Cathedral was almost full, there was an abundance of flowers, and in the throng of people "several poor people were observed". It was, however, perhaps cryptically added in the newspaper notice that "None of the deceased's relatives from outside town were present by the grave".
After her death two benevolence funds were established by the will, both with firm social profiles.
Recommended reading: Magnus Lie: Stiftelser og legater i Trondhjem [Foundations and benevolence funds in Trondheim]. 1922.

Author: Einar Rædergård