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Hofman-Bang Family





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The origins of the Hofman family takes us to Randers, the old and respected Jutland trading-town of which a poet already in the 17th century sings: "You fat salmon-town, with your famous fortune-chest, you who produced the best bourgeoisie blood in the whole of Denmark…."  And this fame was not undeserved. In the early parts of the 17th century, the mayors and the "rentiers" of Randers were as famous as the salmon and the Randers beer. From these Patrician families originated the noble families of Hofman, Lossow, Poulson, Rosenörn, Benzon and Jespersen. All these families have a common pre-history, namely the history of daring tradesmen who made fortune from fortune. Large sums of money were loaned to Jutland noblemen and later, during the war with the Swedes, to the Danish government, but always coming back with handsome interests. Following the passing of a new law in 1660, these interests were used to buy free land. In this way, the trading families became noble families. But as the capital flowed out, the city of Randers suffered a decline. The fjord of Randers became overgrown and only a handful of donations and epitaphs remained in memory of a departed golden era.

The history of this development begins with an Englishman – the Jutlanders called him Jep (Jack) Homan – who had left his homeland in the violent times of Queen Mary I (1516-1558). He settled in Randers and after some time took the name Hofman. He had brought with him considerable funds which helped him become a well-respected member of the society. He was soon elected Mayor of Randers. His son, Sören Hofman, also became a man of high standing and carried on the job of Mayor after his father’s death in 1570. The large fortune he had inherited from his father was further increased through a flourishing trading business. Sören Hofman died in 1595 and left behind him a young (21 years), merry and very rich widow, Marie Pedersdatter.

She was the only daughter of the equally rich Mayor Peder Lasson in Randers. There were no children in this marriage. In his will, he gave all his belongings to his wife on the condition that if she re-married and had a son, this son should be named after him. Marie Pedersdatter was only 21 years old when her husband died and she was also expecting another large inheritance from her father. Soon she found a rich suitor in Niels Jacobsen, a son of free-holding peasants from Semersted (nowadays Simested, northeast of Viborg) in the Viborg bishopric. Helped by support from various noble families, he had climbed the social ladder to become writer (Slotsskriver) at Skanderborg castle. This pushy peasant son had the guts to extend an offer of marriage to a noble maid, Margrete Udzon – also called Westens after her mother’s family. After having overcome a number of impediments to the marriage from her noble relatives in Vejle, they were finally married in 1592. But Margrete died only three years later together with her three children. Following this tragedy, Niels Jacobsen resigned from his job at Skanderborg castle and moved to Randers with his fortune.

In 1596 he married Marie Pederdatter Lasson and in 1604 he became City Court Judge. In 1619 he was elected Mayor of Randers. His father-in-law, Peder Lasson, had died the year before and the couple now had three large fortunes on their hands. Niels Jacobsen died in 1624. As a mark he carried a single and a double "V" locked in an embrace in memory of his first wife’s father and mothers family (Udzon-Westens). Later, this was complemented with three golden globes, apparently in memory of his three large fortunes. His later families kept the three golden balls in their marks. However, in some family trees, it would be interpreted as three roses. A few noble families which originated from Niels Jacobsen, took up the globes (Hofman) as well as Roses (Rosenörn, Benzon). Niels Jacobsen and Marie Lasson had nine children. Their first son was named Sören Hofman and their second son Peder Lasson, named after his mother’s father. Peder Lasson did not have any children but became famous as a lawyer and lawmaker. He contributed to the preparation of Christian V:s Danish laws. A third son, Jacob Nielsen of Ristrup, got married to Katrine Andersdatter who earlier had been engaged to a Brandenburger nobleman, Hans von Lossow who died just before their wedding. She named her children after him and from them originated the Danish noble family of Lossow.

Among Niels Jacobsens and Marie Lassons daughters can three be specially mentioned; Karen, Anne and Mette. Karen got married to Mayor Jesper Lauridsen and from them emanated the noble family of Jespersen. Anne also married a Mayor, Mads Poulsen who later gave up his official duties and retreated to his estates Tvilum, Brusgaard and Rutvede. From him eminated the noble families of Poulson and Rosenörn. The third daughter, Mette, got married to the son of Mayor Bent Hansen, Niels Benzon, owner of the estates Vaar, Korsegaard and Björnkjaer. He became known as a doctor and Knight of the Venetian St. Markus Order. The noble family of Benzon originates from him.

Sören Hofman, the oldest son of Niels Jacobsen and Marie Lasson, studied medical science in Padua and Basel and enjoyed a very good reputation as a doctor when he returned to Denmark. He died in Randers 1649. His grandson, Sören Hofman of Skjerildgaard, was the first in the family to be enobled but since none of his sons produced any sons, the noble arm of the family died out in 1793 with the longest living son, (Konferensraad) Hans de Hofman. His brother Tycho de Hofman is famous for being the author behind "Historic information on well-merited Danish noblemen". A third brother, vice chancellor Niels de Hofman, established the family estate Hofmansgave.

Branches of the Hofman-Bang family are primarily living in Denmark and Sweden. Decendants of Sören de Hofman and his son Jens de Hofman  live in the United States (Hoffmann) and Schleswig, Germany (Hoffmann

 Source:  Illustreret Tidende, No. 1154, 1881

 See also:  Hofman family tree produced by Tycho de Hofman


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