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Hofman-Bang Family





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Hofmansgave - Story

Almost 300 years ago, there were a number of small islands in the north-western corner of the Odense Fjord. We know that people once lived here, because kitchen midden dating back to the period between the Stone- and Bronzeage has been found here.  These islands have since then been joined to the mainland of Fyen. On one of these islands there was a farm, which name can be traced back to the 15th century. The famous historian Pontoppidan called it "a very old farm". The name of the farm was "Knyle" which means to become lean. The farm belonged to a family called Drage but there is very little known about them or the actual house they lived in.

The next owner was Esquire Sten Ottesen. After him Knyle was taken over by the Quitzow family. It was probably first owned by Jörgen Quitzow, then by his son Henning who died in 1569. Both of these men were vassals at Rugaard. The son of Henning Quitzow, Fredrik Quitzow married Pernille Rud, a daughter of Admiral Otto Rud and Pernille Oxe. Pernille Quitzow died in 1608 without having produced any children and Fredrik re-married Anna Lykke, daughter of Erik Lykke and Margrethe Gjöe. It is told that Fredrik Quitzow erected a new main building in 1588 and called it Quitzowsholm. He also donated an alterpiece, churchbells and pulpit to the church in Norup, inscribed with their weapons.

In 1591, Fredrik bought the farm Hasmarksgaard which was owned by Margethe Skovgaard, married to Morten Brock. This farm was located on an island north of Knyle and the two farms were incorporated in 1610. Fredrik Quintzow died on his estate in 1620. His widow handed over the running to her brother-in-law Ejler Quitzow in 1624 and he kept it until his death in 1640 when Fredrik's son Henning took over. Colonel Henning Quitzow died in 1671, seriously impoverished by the war and related misfortunes. His brother, Erik, married to Susanne Juel and father to the well-known Anna Margrethe Quitzow, managed the estate until 1683 when her cousin Jens Rosenkrantz, born 1641 assumed ownership. He called the estate Roseneje. In earlier years, he had been in diplomatic service and chamberlain at the court of Queen Charlotte Amalie. Thereafter he was High Court judge on Fyen and prefect over Viborg county. He was a scholar of high standing and accumulated a large book collection at Roseneje which unfortunately was sold and dispersed after his death in 1695. His widow, Beate Sehested inherited the estate but she died already in 1696. Jörgen, the son of Jens Rosenkrantz was 18 years old when he took over the estate in 1696.

The year after, he married the beautiful Marie Elisabeth de Roklenge, born 1675. She was a daughter of Major Jacob de Roklenge and Anna von Sudermann. Jörgen and Marie had 12 children together and she died in 1715. All their children were christened in the Norup church which belonged to the estate. Due to Jörgen's financial difficulties, Roseneje was put up for sale at an auction on 1st of October 1718. 

The estate was bought by Joh. Fr. Böttiger from Hamburg for 16,500 Rdl. The contract was signed in Odense on 3 November 1718. All of the Rosenkrantz children fared well; Jörgen moved to a daughter in Norway and later to his son Werner, owner of the Krabbesholm estate on Jutland where he died 20 November 1754. Böttiger called the estate Böttigersholm. He left the running of the estate to bad administrators with whom he had regular disagreements with. Finally, his daughter Constance assumed management in 1726 and carried on until 1741.

In 1742, the estate was overtaken by Chr. Nörager but was already in 1745 sold to Chancellor Lund from the Damsbo estate. During his ownership, the first mill was built in Hasmark on the same spot where the old Hasmark farm once had stood. At an auction held on the Damsbo estate 21 September 1754, Böttigersholm was sold for 27,400 Rdl. to Michael Lange from the Krumstrup estate. He died the same year. The estate was inherited by his oldest son Christian who sold the estate to his brother, Major Joh. Ditlev Lange in 1760. In 1771, he sold the estate to a third brother, War Chancellor Niels Kragh Lange. Christian Lange erected a corps chapel close to Norup church which burnt down in 1819. Joh. Ditlev Lange connected the island on which Böttigersholm was located, to the mainland  by building an embankment to the north and south. The northern part became the main entrance to the estate and the southern area was made into a field.

Niels Kragh Lange was forced to sell Böttigersholm at an auction in 1780 for 33,000 Rdl. to Colonel Johan Friderich von Bardenfleth, owner of the Harrildsgaard estate. During his regime, conditions at the estate improved significantly. This lasted however only to 1781 when the estate was purchased by Vice Chancellor Niels de Hofman. He was born on 4 September 1717, a son of
Sören Hofman. He studied in Copenhagen where he took a Bachelor of Divinity in 1739. He appears to have been close to the historian Hans Gram. Following a longer trip abroad 1740-1743, he became High Court Judge in Ringsted and Prefect in Nordborg and Sönderborg county.  In 1745, a cattle decease depressed the prices of farm estates and he had therfore managed to acquire the Ravnstrup estate for a very good price. He sold it in 1760 and made a handsome profit together with the sale of another property - Basnäs. With these funds he bought Böttigersholm for 63,350 Rdl.

Shortly after the purchase, he started to plan several new buildings including the main building which was built from the ground up. A contract was set up with J.C. Seyffert on 13 November 1784 to build a new residence measuring 56 alen (1 alen=0.627 m.) in length and 17 alen in width for a price of 240 Rdl.in labor compensation. All materials were to be delivered by the purchaser. Earlier he had had expanded the two side buildings and erected a new dairy house, all constructed in half-timbering. The main building is built in a simple but yet elegant Rococo style.

Niels de Hofman, who was a brother of Prefect Hans de Hofman and Historian Tycho de Hofman, had married Anna Christine Wellejus in 1746. She was a widow of Marine Doctor Claus Bang from Allerslev. There were no children in this marriage, but he wanted to show his good intentions towards her family by establishing Böttigersholm as a family and entailed estate for the benefit of the sons in her first marriage. Niels de Hofman died the 6th of June 1785 as Konferensraad. The family estate was formally confirmed on 24 February 1784 by means of an erection patent. The property consisted of 51 houses. The erection patent stipulates that the name of the estate should be Hofmansgave and that the owner shall bear the Hofman name and coat of arms. Furthermore, the owner should belong to the Lutheran church and reside at the estate. If the Erector should die before the first successor reached adult age, the estate should be administrated by Captain Claus Bang, Customs Officer in Nyborg - a son of the Marine Doctor with the same name.

This situation arose when Niels de Hofman died in 1785 and Claus Bang took over the running of the estate. He continued the good work done by von Bardenfleth and Niels de Hofman in developing the estate. He planted a number of new, high trees and was generally very active outdoors. He also managed to bring down the estate debt from 24,000 Rdl. to 7,000 Rdl. Niels Bang, the son of Claus Bang and Erica Pontoppidan was born in Vejle on 8 August 1776. Erica Pontoppidan was daughter of Vice Chancellor Erik Pontoppidan in his marriage to Marie de Hofman, a sister to Niels de Hofman. 

The Bang family originated from the Mayor in Middlefart, Claus Madsen who was born in 1583. He was married to Anna Rasmusdatter. None of them ever used the name Bang, this was first used by three of their four sons, the 4th called himself Hammer. After he had taken over the family estate in 1801, Niels Bang took the name Hofman and added Bang in 1835 which he put in brackets. He went to school in Nyborg and early on he became heavily interested in natural science, especially botany where he had Professor Martin Vahl as teacher. He continued to study botany for the rest of his life. He left behind a comprehensive collection of plants at Hofmansgave including a complete Scandinavian and international herbarium. He produced a number of theses on natural science subjects. In 1802, he married Charlotte Malling, daughter of Danish Prime Minister Ove Malling. Charlotte Malling lived 72 years on Hofmansgave and died in 1879. Niels Hofman-Bang travelled extensively in Germany and France during the years 1797 through to 1800, collecting plants and new ideas which he put to practice when he returned to Hofmansgave.

Niels Hofman-Bang died on 5 March 1855 and the family estate was taken over by his son Niels Erik Hofman-Bang who had been born on Hofmansgave 18 July 1803. He studied mathematics in Copenhagen but focused later on sheep-breeding practices. In this capacity he was called to Sweden in 1831 as a consultant. In 1841 he took over the running of Hofmansgave and established an agricultural training facility in 1843. Many of the most notable Danish farmers during the 19th century were students at his school. Niels Erik Hofman-Bang married Martine Malling, a daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Peder Malling.

During the years 1860-1880, Hofmansgave was managed by his brother Jacob Aall Hofman-Bang. In this period, three families lived on Hofmansgave and this contributed to a vivid family life on this somewhat remote estate. Martine Hofman-Bang died in 1869 and Niels Erik Hofman-Bang died in 1886. Their son, Niels Erik Hofman-Bang, born in 1844, took then over the estate. He married Charlotte Louise Mueller (1851-1934). They had nine children. The oldest son, Niels Oluf Hofman-Bang was the owner of Hofmansgave until his death in 1951. Since Niels Oluf had no children, Hofmansgave was converted to a foundation - the "Hofmansgave Foundation" and the estate became an institution for cultivation of plants and related research activities. Up until their deaths, the sisters of Niels Oluf Hofman-Bang continued to live at Hofmansgave. The last three were Inge (died 1970), Ellen (died 1971) and Ebba (died 1972).

Listing of Hofmansgave owners

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