Painting by Joh. F. L. Dreier, 1824. Belongs to Thomas Angells Stiftelser [foundation].
Trondheim experienced a rapid development in trade and shipping in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and a central position in the town's expansive trade at this time was occupied by the Angell family. Thomas was a third-generation citizen of Trondheim with roots going back to merchant families from Angeln in Flensburg, Germany.
After his father's death, Thomas and his brother Lorentz travelled to study and prepare to take over the Angell merchant house, and they managed this with talent and good sense until the brother died in 1751. Their enterprises came to include a saw mill and lumber yard, ship-owning, banking and the importing of various goods. The Angell family also managed substantial ownership capital in Røros copper works and various landed estates.
Thomas Angell never married, but shared his household with his brother Lorentz and his family. The solid family union had a serious setback, however, when Thomas' niece and sole heiress to the family fortune, Karen Angell, married Peter Frederik Suhm from Copenhagen shortly after Lorentz died. It was no secret that Suhm chose his wife because of her heritage prospects, and his propensity to living the good life and socialising around the town did not appeal to the older man with an austere lifestyle.
In 1762 Thomas Angell wrote his will that established his wish to donate his fortune to the poor and destitute in Trondheim. The construction of Thomas Angells Hus [house] in Bispegate 4 and Thomas Angells Stuer [rooms] in Kongens gate 91 has left us visible results of this philanthropy that we can still see today.
The Angell foundations [De Angellske stiftelser] contributed essentially to the town's poor relief, and for a period of time would cover the majority of the town's social welfare expenses. Thanks to these funds the old urban society in Trondheim would undergo new social development well into the nineteenth century. A memorial stone for him was erected facing Thomas Angells Hus on the bi-centennial day of his death in 1967.
Recommended reading: Ida Bull: Thomas Angell. Thomas Angells Stiftelser, 1992.