Karen Angell 1732-1788

It must be said about Karen that she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. The Angell family was very high on the list of the wealthy in Trondheim, and there were not many heirs. Karen was the daughter of Lorentz, who with his brother Thomas was very big in business. The parents of Lorentz and Thomas had nine children, but in the next generation they were left with only one grandchild! Karen's sister Sara died young, as did all of her cousins.
Karen Angell's fate is woven in myth, and she is generally perceived as being a pawn in a game played between men. She was no beauty, but obviously sought after due to her great wealth. The story of the successful proposal by the Dane Peter Fredrik Suhm (read separate info) is well known. Suhm married Karen in 1752, the year after her father died. Thus Suhm acquired ample social and financial means. Karen is often referred to as a victim in this picture. She took over the heavy housekeeping responsibilities in the house of Angell, while Peter was the man about town. When Karen's mother Sara (maiden name Collett) died in 1756, the inheritance amounted to 300 000 riksdaler [silver coins]. Karen was also the next in line to inherit her uncle's corresponding fortune. For several reasons (these are also woven in myths) there was no inheritance from Thomas, who instead willed the majority of his fortune to social causes.
Karen gave birth to a son, Ulrik Fredrik, in 1761. In 1767 the family moved to Denmark, where Karen had to continue to tolerate Peter's rash behaviour. Grief hit them hard when Ulrik died in 1778. Ten years later Karen also died, after a long-term illness. Peter did not hesitate long before marrying again, but he furnished Karen with a revealing epitaph: Uncommonly and manly brave, inexhaustible in work and with incomparable order in everything.
Recommended reading: Ida Bull: Thomas Angell. Thomas Angells stiftelser, 1992.

Author: Einar Rædergård