Poul Jacobsen Kinafarer (1717-75)

Merchant in Faaborg

Poul Jacobsen was born in 1717 as the son of copyholder Jacob Poulsen on a copyhold farm in the village of Svanninge under the estate Steensgaard in the vicinity of the city Faaborg in the south-western part of Funen in Denmark. The farm has since changed its name several times, but still exists.

This was at the time of the adscription when copyholders and their sons between the age of 14 and 35 years were not allowed to move from the estate without permission from the estate owner. But Poul did not want to be a copyholder and he was lucky to get a passport from the estate owner to leave the village.

Poul used his liberty to go to sea. In 1740 he entered one of East Indian Company's ships to China, and in the following three years he made two trips to China. Quite a remarkable achievement at a time when ships in the China Trade were often wrecked and a high percentage of the crews died from various deceases and misfortunes.

But Poul survived and he managed to invest his salary in Chinese goods which were sufficiently valued in Denmark for him to buy a merchant shop in Faaborg. No wonder his fellow citizens nicknamed him 'Kinafarer' ('The man who went to China').

Four years after his return, Poul Jacobsen married Mette Marie, the daughter of a rich paysant Hans Storm in the vicinity of Faaborg. One of the descendants, Georg Rønberg, many years later described in his book "Byen under Klokketaarnet" how the couple met and fell in love. Unfortunately, there are no historic sources to support his romantic description. But there is (or was?) a set of tea cups in fine original china bearing the monograms PJS (Poul Jacob Sen) and MMHD (Mette Marie Hans Datter) and two burning hearts in red.

The marriage was yet another turning point in Poul Kinafarer's life. He settled down for good, expanded his business and in 1754 he purchased a large courtyard in the centre of Faaborg. One of the buildings of this estate is still standing and named "Poul Kinafarer's Courtyard".

While Poul Kinafarer developed his business and became one of the richest merchants of the florissant period in Faaborg, his wife Mette Marie gave birth to a total of 13 children of which many survived and became progenitors of a large descendancy. My wife Tove Storm Tuxen and I wrote a small genealogy book in 1994 about one of the branches of their descendants. The book was in Danish and you can see part of it on this web site.

Although Poul Kinafarer became a rich man, there is no evidence to support that he adapted manners of rich people. He continued to mingle with ordinary people and wore everyday clothes suitable for a working man. Although regrettable now, there is not even a painting of him. But fortunately there is one painting of Mette Marie Storm wearing her finest dress.