Tellefsen Family  

Tellefsenson of Tellef (which means 'descendent of the god Thor') [1]


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  Part 1: Johan Tellefsen (? - ?)


Johan (John) Tellefsen was a ship owner who likely lived in Aust-Agder County, Norway. He had a son, August Bernard Tellefsen. Nothing else is known of him. [2] 



Part 2: August Bernard Tellefsen (c1820 - 1892)


August Bernard Tellefsen was born c1820 in Tvedestrand, a coastal town in Aust-Agder County, Norway. He married Margrethe Christine Speilberg 18 December 1849 in Vestre Moland Parish (now part of Lillesand), south-west of Tvedestrand. She was born c1823 and died before 1858. They had three children: Johan, Augusta and Margrethe. Nothing is known about them beyond the baptism dates. [3] If they survived infancy, it is probable they were brought up by relatives in Norway.  

Johan Christian was born 31 October 1850 and baptised 08 November the same year in Vestre Moland Parish.

Twins Augusta Birgithe and Margrethe Christine were born 02 January 1852 and baptised the next day in Vestre Moland Parish. The immediacy of the baptism suggests they may not have been expected to live long.

Sometime in the 1850s, the widowed August settled in Cardiff, Wales. By the middle of the 19th century, Norway was poised to have the third largest merchant shipping fleet, exporting timber and importing mainly coal, but also providing powerful ships around the globe for business. Cardiff was one of the major coal-exporting ports in the British Isles and it had a large Scandinavian sailing community as a result. As a ship owner, August came to Cardiff where he was keen to start a business. He formed Tellefsen, Wills & Co with George Wills, a noted ship owner, acting as a shipping agency which exported coal. (They dissolved their partnership in 1890 and formed two separate companies: Tellefsen & Co and G.H. Wills & Co.) He met and married 18 year old Martha Middleton Bryant 12 January 1858 at Shirehampton Parish Church, near Bristol. Martha's father Edward Bryant was a merchant with shipping interests which is how the couple probably met (or through Martha's brother-in-law who was also Norwegian). August and Martha had five children: Emily, John, Maria, Theodore and Ernest. 

In December 1868, August became a Naturalised British Subject, and was conferred all the rights of a British-born subject. In that same year the County Courts Admiralty Jurisdiction Act was passed which allowed County Courts to appoint assessors. On 05 February 1869, August was one of 15 men with an involvement in shipping and the sea to be appointed to act as an assessor at Glamorganshire County Court. August was living at Park Place, St John's Parish, Cardiff, at the time. By 1881, the family were living at 9 Wordsworth Street, Roath Parish, then a decade later they were in Rhubina Road, Whitchurch Parish where August died, 28 March 1892 aged 72. Their house was called 'Heimdal' after a Norse God Heimdallr. It is not known when but August was awarded the Order of St Olav, Knight (1st type), a Norwegian order of chivalry. After his death, the medal would have been returned to Norway.

Emily Louisa (1860 - 1915) married George Walter Moore (1860-1926) in Cardiff in 1888. He was a clerk and then later a coal exporter. He was obviously very successful as he left £32, 989 in his will (worth almost £1,000,000 in today's money). They had three children: Dorothy Winifred (1889 - 1955), Eric Charles Tellefsen (1890 - ?) and Nina Margaret (1893 - 1986). Dorothy travelled in her late 30s to visit Eric in Canada in 1928 and then went to Jamaica the following year. She married William Robert Mitchem in 1940 and died in Cardiff 04 April 1955, leaving £12,000 in effects (£340,000). Eric emigrated to Canada in 1910 on board the SS Montcalm. His intended destination was Loon Creek, Saskatchewan where he intended to farm (admitting on his immigration form that he had never farmed before!). He stayed in Saskatchewan farming for a number of years, returning to visit his family in Cardiff for Christmas in 1926. Sometime between 1910 and 1916 he married Mary (surname unknown), who had come out from Scotland. Eric died 07 November 1953 in Saskatchewan, leaving the princely sum of £58 (in England) to his widow! Nina married William Gabe in 1919. He died in 1958 and she married his brother Howell later that same year. She died in or around Swansea, Wales in 1986. 

John Edward August (1861 - 1908) started work as a shipbroker's clerk and after his father's death in 1892, he took over the family business, Tellefsen & Co, which also dealt in timber and insurance brokerage. In September 1892, John was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant in the 2nd Glamorganshire (Cardiff) Volunteer Artillery, which had been formed the previous year. John married Caroline 'Nina' de Stoker in 1884. Nina was apparently born in Galatz (Galați), Romania, and spent her early years in the District Infant Orphan Asylum in Snaresbrook, Wanstead, Essex where she was known as 'Grace'. She was later adopted by John and Frances Sankey and John's nephew Thomas Sankey would later marry John's sister-in-law Maria Tellefsen. Nina and John never had any children. They moved to London c1895, most probably because John wanted to establish a London branch of Tellefsen and Co, which operated out of 101 Leadenhall Street. John became part of the 1st London (City of London) Volunteer Artillery Corps. He resigned his commission a year later, as reported in The London Gazette. John and Nina lived in north London, where his mother spent some time with them. He retired 31 December 1897 after his partnership with Hjalmar Gerhard Lorange and William Henry Green was dissolved by mutual consent (the partnership carried on as Tellefsen and Co). John and Nina moved to Devon, possibly for health reasons. Exmouth was known for its views and medicinal salts. John died in Exmouth 06 June 1908. Nina continued to live there and died in Cliff End Nursing Home, Exmouth, 11 November 1936.

Maria Elizabeth (1861 - 1951) married Thomas Sankey 27 December 1890 in Cardiff. Thomas had been a shipbroker's clerk before his marriage. In the 1920s he was British Pro-Consul in St Malo, France and it is very likely he had held junior positions in that consulate since his marriage. They never had any children of their own but adopted Vivian Mabel Grey when she was young. Vivian had been born in 1895 in Southsea, Hampshire, England, but it is not known what happened to her biological parents nor how the Sankeys came to know of Vivian (adoptions were not legalised until the 1920s). Vivian married Harold Parker and then later Thomas Salt, both in France, and she died in 1983 in Sussex, England. Thomas died in France in 1929. Where Maria lived in the intervening years is not known but she died in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex in 1951.  

Theodore Charles (1863 - 1895) left Cardiff sometime after 1871. There is no official record of him anywhere until 1893. He departed London on board the SS Jumna and arrived in Townsville, Queensland, 30 November after an 'uneventful voyage', according to 'The Brisbane Courier'. He had probably come to Australia years earlier. A report in 'The North Queensland Register' 25 January that year stated that a Mr T.C. Tellefsen had provided the prize for the Ladies' Bracelet race at the Urandangie Christmas race meeting. Four ladies entered horses! Urandangie was - and still is - a tiny settlement between Mount Isa, Birdsville and Longreach. The next record of him unfortunately was a report in 'The Courier Mail' 05 February 1895:

HUGHENDEN, February 4 [Monday]

Tellepin Charles Tellepson [sic], formerly book-keeper at Bunda Bunda [station], committed suicide by cutting his throat on Saturday at the No. 2 Bore on Telemon station. The deceased, who was well connected in England, had been drinking, and left Hughenden on Thursday. Constable Brown had the body interred where it was found.

Bunda Bunda was a very large cattle station north of Julia Creek and Telemon Station was west of Hughenden. Both towns are about 250 km (155 miles) apart. Perhaps Theodore was sacked from Bunda Bunda, went a long way to drown his sorrows and in a melancholy, drunken state decided to kill himself. It is not known if (or how) his family heard the news.

Not much is known about Ernest Bernard (1865 - 1924). He appears on no England, Wales or Norway Census after 1881. He did have a business partnership with Charles Ernest Howard, 'Howard and Tellefsen',  acting as shipbrokers, coal exporters and colliery stores furnishers at 53 Mount Stuart Square, Bute Docks, Cardiff. They dissolved the partnership by mutual consent 31 December 1892. Ernest died in Bristol 23 August 1924. [4]


August Bernard Tellefsen


John Edward August Tellefsen


Caroline Tellefsen née Stoker




[2] The sole record with his name is the marriage of his son to his second wife, Martha Bryant.
[3] This information comes from transcriptions by The original parish registers (on the Norwegian Digital Archive website) are too difficult to read so unable to confirm the information.
England and Wales Census 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, Salter's Commercial Directory 1880, Great British Army War List 1893  ( and;  General Registry Office (GRO) certificates;; Norwegian digitised parish records (Norwegian National Archives; Bristol Mercury newspaper archive (; Home Office records, The National Archives (; 'A Victorian Shipowner: A Portrait of Sir Charles Cayzer, Baronet of Gartmore' (1978) Augustus Muir and Mair Davies, published by Cayzer, Irvine and Company Limited; Cayzer Family Archive (Registered Charity Number: 1122921); London Gazette (; Guide to Exmouth (; Cardiff's Norwegian Church website (; Registers of Immigrant Ships' Arrivals 1848-1912 (; digitised Australian newspaper collection (; Queensland Births Marriages and Deaths index (; digitised Welsh newspaper collection (; 'Tales of Bush Graves: A Study of Bush Grave Sites in North-west Queensland' by Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison (2012); wikipedia