Land/fishing ground owner in Storvågan


Storvågan • Lofoten

There were men who owned the land on which the fishermen’s shacks stood, which were rented by the fishermen during the fishing season. Thousands of men came for the cod season, and mange of them rented quarters in Storvågan. These same landowners controlled the fishing rights in the sea near the fishing villages. Lorch was the name of one of the men who owned a considerable amount of properties and resources on land and sea. He was one of the most powerful men in the region. Another name for such men was King of the Cape (nessekonge).

Lorch was a merchant who monopolised local trade and business activity in the area. He had a country store that provided visiting fishermen and permanent residents with supplies. One could buy all the equipment one needed here, but he also had fine goods from abroad for sale. These merchant would often grant credit, which was very helpful to poor families. But the fisherman was obligated to bring his catch to the landowner, who would set the price of the fish. Much of Lorch’s business was only halfway legal. Smuggling wine and liquor were an important source of income.

Lorch became quite wealthy and acquired refined tastes. His stately home was filled with beautiful objects and collections that impressed his guests: Gold and silver, silk, fine textiles and furs. Most of it came by way of Germany and we see a noteworthy cultural influence from that part of Europe in the fishing villages of Northern Norway that entered the region through the merchants’ and landowners’ business connections.

Mr Lorch was a stern businessman, selling his fishing village (Storvågan) to his son-in-law for a great deal of money in 1843. It is said that all of Lorch’s daughter’s inheritance was used to secure the property.

His great grandchild described him in these words:
“His reputation, after he died, was not good. He was a drinker, he had a tendency to hit and he was unscrupulous in business matters. He even fell out with his own wife”.

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