Ryberg, Niels

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Niels Ryberg with his son Johan Christian and daughter-in-law Engelke, nee Falbe (Det Rybergske familiebillede, Statens Museum for Kunst). 1797.

Born 14.9.1725-29.8.1804

Father: Christensen, Bertel, mother: Nielsdatter, Vibeke (Rasch 1964:10)

Son: Ryberg, Johan Christian (FT-1787)

Marriage: 1765/64 to Otte, Margaretha Dorothea. She died two years later (Rasch). She was only 17 years old when she died (private geneaology site)

1750 - Upon some time spent in Aalborg studying the merchant business with his uncle, Ryberg came to Copenhagen (Bio Lek III)

1751 - An advertisement was published in a newspaper of how Niels Ryberg was selling "extra pure and good strong" cumin, at the merchant Birk, Jørgen at Gammel Strand (Kiøbenhavnske Danske Post-Tidender, 27 September 1751)

1753 - First delivery of goods to Asiatisk Kompagni, 103 skippund hemp. (Rasch 1964:20)

1754 - First purchase of Chinese goods, tea from the DAC ship PRINSESSE LOVISE for 14,000 rigsdaler, mostly the inexpensive bohée tea. (Rasch 1964:20)

1755 - Established the merchant house House of Ryberg & Thygesen (Bio Lek III)

1765 - Married Otte, Margaretha Dorothea, son of the merchant Otte, Frederik Wilhelm of Eckernförde. (Rasch 1964:337)

1768-1788 - The initiator behind an application to the Danish government to establish an official harbour for smuggling near Torshavm on the Faroe Islands. This smuggler's harbour would smuggle spirits, tobacco and tea to Britain in order to avoid paying customs fees (Jacobsen, The Faroe Islands in the eighteenth century in Heinzelman, Robl & Riis "The Oldenburg Monarchy", 2006, p. 99)

1770 - Listed as Overordentligt Medlem of the Kongelige Danske Landhuusholdnings Selskab. (Kiøbenhavns Kongelige Alene Priviligerede Adresse-Contoirs Efterretninger, 1st May 1770, no. 65)

1772 - Listed as subscribent, i.e. contributor, to a reprint of Ludvig Holberg’s comic epos Peder Paars, where he is listed as "merchant in Altona" (Holberg, Peder Paars, 1772)

1773-1775 - Director of Asiatisk Kompagni. (Hof&Stat)

?: Member of Grosserer-Societetet (at least by 1797) (Werner, Duntzfelt)

1785: stepped down as director of the Westindian Company, as the company was no longer profitable, and Ryberg advised that the company be dissolved (Bruun III, 814).

1797: Asked permission to arm his ships alongside other Copenhagen merchants (Werner, Duntzfelt). Permission granted in 1798, to sail in "konvoj".

1803-1805: A total of 5 ships sailed en route to the East Indies for Ryberg & Co., in a total of 7 expeditions (Werner, Duntzfelt)

1808 (september): Count Schimmelmann asks Ryberg & Co. and a number of other merchant houses if they would be willing to supply the Crown with a loan, and is granted some of this (Werner, Duntzfelt)

1820: Ryberg & Co., (now known by the name Joh. Chr. Ryberg, Borries, v. d. Pahlen og Wilbroe) went bankrupt (Werner, Duntzfelt)

Niels Ryberg, painted by Niels Juel.


  • Frederiksgave Gods on Fyn
  • Øbjerggaard
  • Køng (where he also established a linen manufacture, see ([1]) (in Danish)
  • The Dehnske Palæ, later Augustenborgske Palæ in Bredgade, Copenhagen
  • Kløckers Gaard in Store Kongensgade

Fregatskibet "Norge"

Ryberg came from a family of serfs (BibLek III). He was involved in almost all the various Danish initiatives concerning trade in the colonies and commercial ventures overseas (both the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the West Indies, India, China and West Africa) (BibLek III) (RA Moltke) (Icelandic National Archives research). Ryberg was also a collector of arts and books (Werner, Duntzfelt). Ryberg through [Ryberg & Co.] was reportedly amongst the group of merchants who made the largest imports from the East Indies, other main importers of Indian goods were: Coninck & Co., Duntzfelt & Co., Blacks Enke & Co., Fabritius & Wever and Andersen & Schmidt (Werner, Duntzfelt). The total imports of a total of 37 cargoes from India and China between 1797-1799 by Copenhagen merchants totalled 16.757.964 Rigsdaler, whereas the [Asiatic Company] brought goods to Copenhagen at the value of 9.051.300 Rigsdaler (Werner, Duntzfelt)

Ryberg was a member of Det kongelige Kjøbenhavnske Skydeselskab. (Gram-Andersen & Fønss, 2014:266)