Lars Gathenhielm

Lars Gathenhielm (1689–1718) was a Swedish merchant and privateer.


Lars Gathenhielm was born on the Gatan estate in Onsala Parish in Halland. His parents were the sea captain Anders Börjesson Gathe and his wife Kerstin Larsdotter, daughter of a mill owner in Hjälm, Fjärås Parish. Before his knighthood in 1715, he was known as Lars Andersson Gathe or Lasse i Gatan.

To protect Swedish shipping from pirates and to harm the enemy, the government of Charles XII of Sweden in June 1710 gave Lars Gathe from Onsala permission to seize ships from enemy nations such as Denmark and Russia.

He had a great deal of early success with his galleon Lilla Jägaren (The Little Hunter), and as the volume of hijackings increased, many local sailors were quickly recruited to work the privateer ships. He suffered from a hip injury that made him dependent on crutches and may not have spent much time at sea himself, directing the work from Gothenburg instead. Lars was accused of piracy against Swedish ships as well, but was protected by the king himself and therefore never punished.

Lars and his brother Christian were ennobled in 1715 as Gathenhielm for their efforts on behalf of Swedish navigation. The name "Gathenhielm" was a compound formed from the names of his grandparents' homes. Lars was later also appointed commodore in the Royal Swedish Navy.

Lars Gathenhielm died from tuberculosis in 1718 at the age of 29, but his wife, Ingela Hammar, succeeded him as head of the piratical empire he had created. They are buried in Onsala Church.


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