Gunnar Knudsen

Last updated
Anna Sofie Cappelen
(m. 1880;died 1915)
Gunnar Knudsen
Gunnar Knudsen 02.jpg
11th Prime Minister of Norway
In office
31 January 1913 21 June 1920

Gunnar Knudsen (19 September 1848 – 1 December 1928), born Aanon Gunerius Knudsen, was a Norwegian politician from the Liberal Party who served as the 11th prime minister of Norway twice from 1908 to 1910 and from 1913 to 1920. He also inherited a shipping company, and founded the shipping company Borgestad ASA. [1] [2]


Early life and education

Knudsen was born in 1848 at the medium-sized farm Saltrød at Stokken (now Arendal) in Aust-Agder. Norway. His father Christen Knudsen (1813–1888) was a sea captain and ship-owner, whose ancestors had lived at the farm for several generations. His mother Guro Aadnesdatter (1808–1900) had grown up at one of the smaller farms in Saltrød which her father which hailed from Vegusdal had bought. A brother of Gunnar died in 1855, his two living siblings were Jørgen Christian Knudsen (born 1843) and Ellen Serine (born 1846) who married Johan Jeremiassen (he also had four sisters ). [3]

Christen Knudsen established a shipyard in Arendal in 1851, but in 1855 he and the family moved to Frednes in Porsgrunn. [4] Gunnar Knudsen started studying at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1865 where he got a degree as engineer in 1867. [5]

Business career

Returning to Norway, he started working at Aker's Mechanical Workshop and then went to England where he studied ship building technics at Piles Shipyard in Sunderland. The first ship he designed for the family's shipyard was Gambetta, named after the French politician Léon Gambetta. It was launched in 1871. The stay in England convinced Knudsen that the days of sail ships would soon be over and that the family business needed to start building steam ships in the future. [6]

Gunnar and his brother Jørgen Christian took over the shipyard from their father in 1872. In the following years they would also take over ships their father owned and the brothers formed a shipyard and shipping company together: J.C. og G. Knudsen. [7] In the period until 1879, Knudsen designed five ships for the company. He named the fifth Crossroad; it was the last sail ship he designed. In 1904, he merged his interests in three steam ship companies into Borgestad Shipping AS. [8]

Political career

In 1886, he became the mayor of Gjerpen and in 1891 elected governor of Telemark. In 1891 Knudsen was elected to the Storting, becoming parliamentary leader in 1908 and party leader from 1909 to 1927. He was elected Prime Minister in 1908 and 1913. In social policy, Knudsen's time as prime minister saw the passage of the Sickness insurance Law of September 1909, which provided compulsory coverage for employees and workers below a certain income limit, representing approximately 45% of all wage earners. [9] That same year, the state approved free midwife services for unmarried mothers. In 1915, free midwife services were extended to the wives of men included under the national health insurance scheme. [10] [11]

Personal life

Gunnar Knudsen married Anna Sofie Cappelen (1854–1915) in 1880, and together they had five children, born between 1882 and 1893; Erik, Christen, Gudrun, Margit and Rolf. [12] Margit, married Schiøtt, was elected to the national parliament in 1945. Christen Knudsen had a son Knut Andreas Knudsen who became a politician as well.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arendal</span> Municipality in Agder, Norway

Arendal is a municipality in Agder county in southeastern Norway. Arendal belongs to the region of Sørlandet. The administrative centre of the municipality is the city of Arendal. Some of the notable villages in Arendal include Rykene, Eydehavn, Færvik, Strengereid, Kongshavn, Kilsund, Brattekleiv, Torsbudalen, Longum, Saltrød, Staubø, Vrengen, and Kolbjørnsvik. The offices of UNEP/GRID-Arendal are also located in the city of Arendal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Heftye</span>

Thomas Thomassen Heftye was a Norwegian military officer, engineer, sports official and politician for the Liberal Party. He is best known as the Norwegian Minister of Defence from June to October 1903 and March to April 1908, as well as the director of Telegrafverket. He was killed in the Nidareid train disaster.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bolsøy</span> Former municipality in Norway

Bolsøy is a former municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. The 290-square-kilometre (110 sq mi) municipality of Bolsøy encompassed the area around the Fannefjorden including most of the present-day Molde Municipality, excluding the town of Molde. The municipality also included the Molde Archipelago and the island of Bolsøya. The administrative center of the municipality was located on the island of Bolsøya near the location of the main church for the parish, Bolsøy Church.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gjerpen</span> Former municipality in Norway

Gjerpen is a former municipality in Telemark county, Norway. The 381-square-kilometre (147 sq mi) municipality existed from 1838 until its dissolution in 1964. The area is now part of Skien Municipality. The administrative centre was the village of Gjerpen, which is now part of the growing town of Skien. Gjerpen Church was the main church for the municipality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borgestad (company)</span>

Borgestad ASA is a Norwegian shipping, industry and real estate company. The corporation has two primary divisions: Borgestad Properties and Borgestad Industries.

Margit Schiøtt, née Knudsen was a Norwegian politician for the Liberal Party. She was born in Gjerpen, a daughter of the Norwegian Prime Minister Gunnar Knudsen. Her husband was dr. ing. Didrik Cappelen Schiøtt (1887–1958) and they lived at Gulset in Skien, Norway, where they also owned a little farm. They had no children.

Knut Andreas Knudsen was a Norwegian shipowner and a politician for the Liberal Party. Born in Gjerpen, he was a son of shipowner Christen Knudsen (1884–1986) and a grandson of Gunnar Knudsen.

Jørgen Christian Knudsen was a Norwegian ship-owner and politician for the Conservative Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johan Jeremiassen</span>

Johan Jeremiassen was a Norwegian entrepreneur, ship-owner, consul and politician. He established the porcelain flatware company. Porsgrund Porselænsfabrik.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nicolai Benjamin Aall</span> Norwegian businessman, ship-owner, property owner and timber merchant

Nicolai Benjamin Aall (1739–1798) was a Norwegian businessman, ship-owner, property owner and timber merchant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ulrich Fredrich von Cappelen</span> Norwegian businessman, ship owner and timber merchant

Ulrich Fredrich von Cappelen (1770–1820) was a Norwegian businessman, ship owner and timber merchant.

Christen Knudsen was a Norwegian ship-owner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cappelen (family)</span>

Cappelen is a Norwegian family of German origin. Johan von Cappelen immigrated to Norway in 1653 and became bailiff in Lier. A number of his descendants were businessmen, land owners, civil servants and politicians. The family is especially known for the former publishing company J.W. Cappelens Forlag. Variants of the name Cappelen are also used throughout Germany by many other families.

Events in the year 1848 in Norway.

Events in the year 1812 in Norway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haldor Børve</span> Norwegian architect

Haldor Larsen Børve was an architect from Ullensvang in Hordaland, Norway. Børve started an architectural practice in Porsgrunn in 1889 and designed numerous buildings in Telemark and Vestfold, many of them influenced by Dragestil and the Nordic National Romantic style. Among his best-known works are Dalen Hotel from 1894 and Porsgrunn City Hall from 1904/1905.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bartholomæus Deichman</span> Danish-Norwegian clergyman

Bartholomæus Deichman was a Danish/Norwegian clergyman and Bishop.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Borgestad Manor</span>

Borgestad Manor is an estate and manor house in the municipality of Skien in Telemark, Norway.

<i>Skomvær</i> (barque) Norwegian steel-hulled barque

Skomvær was the name of a steel-hulled barque built in 1890 for J. C. & G. Knudsen in Porsgrunn, Telemark, Norway. The ship, which was designed by naval architect Randulf Hansen and constructed at Laxevaags Maskin- og Jernskibsbyggeri in Bergen, was the first sailing ship constructed with steel in Norway and for a time the largest Norwegian sailing vessel ever built. However, the ship struggled to compete in the 20th century with the advent of the steamship, and in 1924 she was decommissioned and sold for scrap.

Christen Knudsen was a Norwegian ship-owner and politician for the Conservative Party and later Nasjonal Samling.


  1. Knut Dørum. "Gunnar Knudsen". Store norske leksikon. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  2. "Gjennom ild, vann og land i mer enn 100 år". Borgestad ASA. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  3. Nissen p. 11
  4. Nissen p. 910
  5. Nissen p. 16
  6. Nissen p. 19
  7. Nissen p. 23
  8. Per Fuglum. "Gunnar Knudsen". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  9. Growth to limits: the Western European welfare states since World War 2: Volume 4 by Peter Flora
  10. Foundations of the Welfare State, 2nd Edition by Pat Thane, published 1996
  11. "Gunnar Knudsen". University of Bergen. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  12. Utdrag av Gjerpens kirkebøker i hundrede aar: 1815–1914, vedkommende fødte, gifte og døde av mere almindelig interesse


Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Norway
Succeeded by