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Hegelund Profiles: the 16 hundreds

The Hegelund family originally hailed from the towns of Ribe, Viborg and Ebeltoft in the Jutland peninsula of Denmark. These Hegelunds that came to settle on the Northern edge of Arctic Norway were Morten C. and Mikkel C. Hegelund, the sons of the mayor of Viborg, Christen Sørensen Hegelund.

Together with the Figenshou family, the Hegelunds soon became one of the leading families in Karlsøy. These two families of civil servants were amongst the most notable and influential in their local community, and it did not take long before they began to inter-marry and forge powerful and enduring alliances with each other.

Soon, the gathering of Hegelunds and Figenshous essentially turned into a sort of integrated social system that formed the center of the local society.

 

Morten C. Hegelund (1600-1660)

Morten C. Hegelund got his start in life in Bodø as an aide to Frank Kass, the governor of the Nordland county. While living there, he met a local lady named Synøve Hansdatter with whom he fell in love and later married. As a reward for his excellent work in the county administration, Morten was rewarded by being made bailiff for the district of Troms.

He and his wife established themselves in the Elvevold farm in Ringvassøy island. He also leased land in Hessfjord, by the Langsund strait. Records indicate that he kept his bailiff position the rest of his life until he died in 1660.

The House of Hegelund family are all proud descendants from Morten C.Hegelund, the first in his family to establish himself in the Arctic coast of Northern Norway.

His brother, Mikkel C. Hegelund, became a priest in the city of Trondheim. Among his descendants we find one individual who would end up moving event further north and become the famed “Karlsøy priest.”

 

Mikkel J. Heggelund (1662-1729)

Mikkel J., descendant of Mikkel C. Hegelund of Trondheim, ended up establishing himself in Karlsøy, just as his relative Morten had done a few decades earlier. Thanks in part to his marriage to Rebekka Elisabeth von Mühlenport, heiress to a powerful German-Hungarian family, Mikkel J. was entrusted with the vicariate of Karlsøy, a position he held for close to 30 years, between 1694 to his death in 1729.

Mikkel J. was known in his time for being quite the character and having the tendency to get easily worked up. His moral integrity and social engagement, together with his somewhat rigid mindset, often led him to various conflictual situations during his time as a priest.

Together with his wife, Rebekka, Mikkel J. had no less than 6 children; 4 daughters and two sons. Another noteworthy figure in the Hegelund clan was his older brother:

 

Christen M. Heggelund (1625- 1694)

Christen M. Hegelund was known in his lifetime as the king of Skjervøy. In 1661, Christen obtained trading privileges making him a merchant citizen of the city of Bergen, the largest trading center in the country at the time. He later established himself in Skjervøy, a little trading post in the vicinity of Karlsøy, where he became one of the richest and most influential man in his community.

Not only did he command much respect and obeisance from the general population, even the local priest, Cornelius Hansen, was himself monetarily indebted to him. According to local legend, he would even take the priest’s Christmas donation from the church altar in plain sight of the whole congregation in order to repay himself. These questionable dealings quickly became so infamous that it was referenced by the priest-poet Peter Dass in his most famed epic poem The Trumpet of Nordland:

”Et røgte forleden i landet omdrog
At præsten udredning hos kræmmeren tog
Og var hannem skyldig en hooben.
Naar bonden en skilling paa Alteret gav
Sto kræmmeren bag og tog den deraf
Dat is na de dyvel to ioopen.”

Despite not being particularly considerate towards the priest, Christen was nevertheless quite generous with the church. Over the years, he gifted a majestic Baroque altarpiece and a chandelier, as well as a painting of him and his whole family to the church (see picture on the left).

Christen M. Hegelund ended up establishing a large family. He fathered no less than seven children including one son, Michel C., who became, just like his father, a merchant citizen of Bergen after studying in Copenhagen, Hamburg and Bergen. A second son, Christen C., studied in Copenhagen and went on to become parish priest of Avaldsnes in southern Norway. A third son, Anders C. (1665-1710), also studied in Denmark to become a priest, and officiated there for some time before returning to Norway to overtake the office of his brother, Christen C., in Avaldsnes.

 

Sources:

Fjelde Larsen, Marion (2014). Næringsmangfoldet ved kysten i middelalderen. In Nils Kolle and Alf Ragnar Nielsen (Eds): Norges fiskeri- og kysthistorie, Fangstmenn, fiskerbønder og værfolk, fram til 1720. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget Vigmostad & Bjørke AS (233-260).
Bratrein, Håvard Dahl (1994). Karlsøy og Helgøy Bygdebok. Hansnes: Karlsøy kommune.