Catharina Elisabeth Kijk was an industrialist in Åbo in Swedish Finland during the 1700s.
Catharina Elisabeth Kijk was born on 8 February 1721 in Stockholm. She was the daughter of Nils Grubb, a merchant, and his wife Gunilla Grubb. The Grubbs were an old family from Norrland and Catharina Elisabeth Kijk’s parents were cousins. Her mother was a spiritual poet who wrote pietistic-mystical songs. Her father later became an inspector on the railways in Stockholm.
Catharina Elisabeth Kijk married Johan Jacob Kijk in 1740. He was a businessman and 15 years older than she. They moved to Åbo after the wedding. It was his third marriage. Catharina Elisabeth Kijk and Johan Jacob Kijk had two daughters and two sons. Johan Jacob Kijk’s daughter from a previous marriage later married Catharina Elisabeth Kijk’s brother Mikael Grubb, who had followed his sister to Finland and was studying at the Åbo Academy. Mikael Grubb founded the first Swedish trade factory in Canton in China and thereafter became a director of the Swedish East India Company. That was important for his father-in-law’s/brother-in-law’s merchant company.
Johan Jacob Kijk had gained his burghership in Åbo and was then active as a merchant, industrialist and shipowner. He was part-owner of two tobacco producers in Åbo, the roofing tiles yard in Kuppis and the glassworks in Åvik, all in Finland. In 1733, he acquired the blast furnace in Tykö and the bar iron forge in Kirjakkala, also in Finland. All the works had land estates on which he carried out sheep breeding, tobacco cultivation and forestry. In Bjärnö, he owned the Tykö works complex that at his death included seven manor houses and 42 smaller homesteads in Bjärnå, Halikko, Kimito, Pikis and Uskela.
After Johan Jacob Kijk’s death in 1777, when his fortune amounted to an enormous sum (1,350,000 dalers in copper), his properties and capital were transferred in their totality to Catharina Elisabeth Kijk, according to his last will and testament from 1773. She was awarded the access rights for her lifetime. On 30 July 1777, she and her family came to an inheritance agreement according to which her children refrained from all their rights to share the estate as long as their mother was alive. Not until after her death in 1788 would the works complex with land and buildings be transferred to her and Johan Jacob Kijk’s male heirs who were active in business, namely to their son Hans Henrik Kijk and their son-in-law Josef Bremer.
Catharina Elisabeth Kijk ran her works with great success. She renovated the works buildings in the 1780s. Tykö and Kirjakkala were very productive works under her leadership. Every year, 50 ship-pounds of pig iron were refined into bar iron and various kinds of wrought iron. Finished bar iron was exported via Åbo. For the domestic market around Åbo, iron goods were manufactured in the form of nails, horse shoes, sledge runners, crowbars, axes, iron pots and saucepans and so forth. The goods were transported to Åbo by ship and in the winter often by sledge. The works also produced tar, pitch and planks for the export market.
Catharina Elisabeth Kijk survived her husband by more than ten years. In her estate inventory, her fortune was valued at 1,275,000 daler in copper. By then, her son Lieutenant Johan Jacob Kijk junior had already received three large country estates and her son-in-law Carl Fredrik Rehbinder had been given a farm as his wife’s dowry. Apart from the fortune listed in the inventory, there were properties in Åbo, a share in the Orijärvi copper mine and the basic capital of the Kijkska fund with its aim of starting a school for the works’ children. The estate inventory is witness to an extremely wealthy home. It included extensive amounts of precious jewellery, silver objects, and dinnerware of silver or Chinese and English porcelain. In the wardrobe hung an ermine fur coat and many expensive garments. The library of books however was small, consisting of legal, religious and economic literature as well as cookery books.
Catharina Elisabeth Kijk died in 1788 in Åbo.