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Johann Cesar VI. Godeffroy

Johann Cesar VI Godeffroy 7 July 1813 in Kiel – 9 February 1885 in Blankenese was a German trader and Hanseat

He was the founder of Museum Godeffroy


  • 1 Family history and the trading company JC Godeffroy & Sohn
  • 2 Johan Cesar VI Godeffroy
  • 3 Südseekönig, South Sea King
  • 4 The Establishment of the Museum Godeffroy
  • 5 Legacy
  • 6 References
  • 7 Bibliography
  • 8 External links

Family history and the trading company JC Godeffroy & Sohn

The Godeffroys were French Huguenots of La Rochelle In 1737 they were forced to flee France to avoid religious persecution after events following the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685 The family sought asylum in Prussia and finally settled in the port city of Hamburg, founding a trading empire known as JC Godeffroy & Sohn At first the trade was in Western Europe and the West Indies with textiles as export item; the goods returning to Hamburg included copper, coffee, wine, figs, and sugar from Cuba Under Johann Cesar VI Godeffroy outposts were established in Havana and in Valparaiso He built a fleet of trading ships that, at its peak, numbered 29 deep water sailing vessels and some 100 smaller ships[1] Among these ships were the barques Johann Caesar, Peter Godeffroy, La Rochelle, Wandram, Suzanne, Iserbrook, Victoria, and until the economic crisis of 1857, the renowned American-built clipper Sovereign of the Seas[2] In 1855, trade was expanded into the Pacific following negotiations by Godeffroy's agent in Valparaiso, August Unselm He sailed out to the Navigator Islands, The Friendly Islands, Fiji, and finally Tahiti

Cesar & Helene

The trading business in the Pacific was very profitable and new outposts and plantations were established on many Pacific Islands The goods were copra, coconut oil and luxuries such as pearl In 1857, a central outpost, directing Pacific operations was established at Apia Johann Godeffroy was also able to take advantage of an immigration scheme to Southern Africa and between October 1859 and September 1883 no less than 36 ships sailed for southern Africa, bringing hundreds of German families to the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, British Kaffraria and Natal After the financial crash of the late 1850, the firm supplemented its revenue by taking on passengers to the Australian gold rush and the California gold rush The German imperial government utilized the Godeffroy company as part of its colonial policy in the Pacific Islands Nevertheless, in 1878, the company went bankrupt due to speculations with German mining stocks and then emerged as Deutsche Handels- und Plantagen Gesellschaft der Südseeinseln zu Hamburg, or DHPG, with continuity and management by Godeffroy personnel[3]

Johan Cesar VI Godeffroy

Old Wandrahm Strasse in 1880

Johan Godeffroy attended the town school of Katharineum of Lübeck from about 1821 to 1830, as did his younger brothers and his older brother Gustav Adolph He then trained at Parish & Co[4][circular reference] whose owner Richard Parish was married to Susanne Godeffroy, a daughter of Peter Godeffroy, brother of his grandfather An internship in England followed Towards the end of 1835, he joined his father's company, "Johan Ces Godeffroy & Sohn " and on 1 January 1837 he became a shareholder After the death of his father Johan V Cesar Godeffroy on 3 July 1845 he took over the company In this year he was elected to the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce From 1846 he negotiated partnerships and mergers with various companies notably "Elb-Kupferwerk" copper ore processors and "Reiherstieg Hermann V Roos" shipbuilders In 1857 he took control of the newly established "L R Beit, Gold- und Silber-Affinerie" now Aurubis AG Other business arrangements were made with "Tesdorf FJ & Son", "Elbhütte Affinir- und Handelsgesellschaft" and "Elb-Zuckersiederei" sugar refiners In these years also co-founded the North German Bank and the North German Insurance Company Due to lack of liquidity the company Johan Ces Godeffroy & Sohn at the end of 1879 began legal process with its creditors This took over 30 years but finally in 1913 the company name "John Ces Godeffroy & Sohn" was erased from the Register

On 2 February 1837 Johan Cesar VI Godeffroy married Emily Hanbury 1815–1894 whose family had close trading ties with Livorno The couple had five children, with Johan Cesar Godeffroy VII, the eldest son His brother Gustav Godeffroy was a Senator for the city of Hamburg in the Frankfurt National Assembly and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Norddeutsche Bank His brother, Adolph Godeffroy in 1847 was co-founder of the passenger line "Hamburg-Amerikanischen Packetfahrt-AG“ HAPAG" HAPAG and until 1880 the presiding director

During the winter months the family lived in the upper floors of a house in the Old Wandrahm inside Hamburg, office spaces occupied the lower floor This house was built around 1760 The rest of the year they lived far outside the city Dockenhuden, today a part of Blankenese[5] in a cottage built by the Danish architect Christian Frederik Hansen in 1789 de:Landhaus J C Godeffroy Nearby, in the area known as Iserbrook, he planted extensive woodlands where Hamburg bourgeoisie, notably Ernst Merck, William Henry O'Swald, Corad Hinrich Donner Johann Heinrich Schröder and Robert Miles Sloman were entertained at a tennis clubThis is now Hirschpark de:Hirschpark He also established a horse farm In June 1836 with his younger brother, Adolph, Carl Merck, Charles Parish, Dr Edward Sieveking, Dr Johann Gustav Heckscher and five other enthusiasts he founded the Hamburg Rowing Club It is the oldest rowing club on the European continent and still exists today From 1859 to 1864 he sat as a member of the Hamburg Parliament

Südseekönig, South Sea King

German Consulate Apia

Starting Pacific trading in Cochin-China and supported by merged, partner companies, share-holders including Otto von Bismarck and bankers in Hamburg and under the close direction of Johan Caesar VI Godeffroy the company was soon throughout the South Seas, with centres of operation at Apia and Valparaiso, and a fleet of trading barques, brigs and schooners, which traded through the islands from China to the Pacific coast flying the company colours – a white flag with a ribboned golden dove on a blue horizontal bar with golden stripes, below the bar is a blue inscription: "JCG & S In Apia the company supplied arms and ammunition from an armaments subsidiary at Liege These were supplied to the warring factions on Apia in exchange for 10,000 hectares 25,000 acres of the finest alluvial soil soon transformed into plantations of, mainly, copra or coconut oil, pearl-shell or sea-island cotton These were worked by over 1,000 labourers imported from Melanesia Another plantation of 1,200 hectares 3,000 acres was later started at Yap in the Pelew Group and in 1873 trading posts were established in the Bismarck archipelago

In 1865 in the Ellice Group now Tuvalu the company obtained a 25-year lease to the eastern islet of Niuoku of Nukulaelae Atoll[6] For many years the islanders and the company argued over the lease, including its terms and the importation of labourers, however the company remained until the lease expired in 1890[6]

At Apia they had a shipbuilding yard and repairing sheds The ships never insured and their captains were paid commission of three per cent, on the net profit of each voyage Ships always left Apia under sealed orders to disguise their intentions from competitors More innovative was the introduction of debased South American currencies as the sole means of exchange so controlling the money

The Establishment of the Museum Godeffroy

Fische der Sudsee Journal Museum Godeffroy

Beginning as a personal collection of birds, shells, fish, and other animals, as well as cultural objects from all localities visited by the Godeffroy ships, Godeffroy's natural history cabinet grew in size until it occupied a cluttered warehouse It was time to find a proper place to house, list, organize, and finally display them to a fascinated public, and in 1860 Godeffroy wrote to Dr Eduard Heinrich Graeffe 1833–1919 in Switzerland to request his services in founding a museum The 28-year-old Swiss zoologist accepted and boarded a train for Hamburg in 1861 After a short time the Museum Godeffroy was founded, and Graeffe was sent to the Pacific in October 1861 to supervise the acquisition of more material Graeffe settled in Apia and directed the Godeffroy operations there for the next decade while also collecting in Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Australia, Samoa, and other South Pacific Islands Other scientific collectors were hired by the company who, working in different areas of the Pacific Ocean, helped increase the holdings of the Museum with their successful collecting of birds, mammals, fishes, shells, butterflies, beetles and other insects, plants, and ethnographic objects The museum also functioned as a natural history dealership On the establishment of the museum, Godeffroy was made an honorary member of the Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte


Johan Cesar VI Godeffroy is commemorated in the scientific name of a species of lizard, Hypsilurus godeffroyi[7]


  1. ^ Washausen, Helmut Hamburg und die Kolonialpolitik des Deutschen Reiches Hamburg: Hans Christians Verlag, 1968, p 56 Veröffentlichungen des Vereins für Hamburgische Geschichte, Band 23
  2. ^ Hertz, Richard Das Hamburger Seehandelshaus JC Godeffroy und Sohn 1766-1879 Hamburg: Paul Hartungs Verlag, 1922, p 35 Veröffentlichungen des Vereins für Hamburgische Geschichte, Band 4
  3. ^ Washausen, p 57
  4. ^ de:John Parish Kaufmann
  5. ^ Blankenese belonged to Altona, and till 1864 Altona belonged to the Kingdom of Danmark, since 1937 Altona belongs to Hamburg
  6. ^ a b Suamalie NT Iosefa; Doug Munro; Niko Besnier 1991 Tala O Niuoku, Te: the German Plantation on Nukulaelae Atoll 1865-1890 Institute of Pacific Studies ISBN 9820200733mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflink
  7. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael 2011 The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press xiii + 296 pp ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5 "Godeffroy", p 102


  • Cooper, H Stonehewer 1882 "Chapter XXVII Godeffroy and Co, the South Sea Kings" pp 231-239 In: Cooper, H Stonehewer 1882 The Islands of the Pacific their Peoples and their Products A New and Revised Edition of 'Coral Lands' for Circulation in Australia London: R Bentley
  • Bollard AE 1981 "The financial adventures of JC Godeffroy and Son in the Pacific" Journal of Pacific History 16 1: 3–19
  • Penny, H Glenn 2002 Objects of Culture: Ethnology and Ethnographic Museums in Imperial Germany Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press
  • Spoehr, Florence Mann 1963 White Falcon, the House of Godeffroy and Its Commercial and Scientific Role in the Pacific Palo Alto, California: Pacific Books
  • Kennedy, Paul M 1974 The Samoan tangle A study in Anglo-German-American relations, 1878–1900 New York: Barnes & Noble
  • See also the German bibliography

External links

  • J C Godeffroy Company
  • German Settlers to the Eastern Cape-Johann Godeffroy's prospectus

Johann Cesar VI. Godeffroy Information about

Johann Cesar VI. Godeffroy

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