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Alstromer, Jonas

ALSTROMER, JONAS (1685-1761), Swedish industrial re-former, was born at Alingsas in Vestergotland, on the 7th of January 1685. He left his native village at an early age, and in 1707 became clerk to Alberg, a merchant of Stockholm, whom he accompanied to London. After carrying on business for three years, Alberg failed, and Alstrom (as his name was before his ennoblement) engaged in the business of shipbroker on his own account, and eventually proved very successful. After travelling for several years on the continent, he was seized with the patriotic desire to transplant to his native country some of the industries he had seen flourishing in Britain. He accordingly returned to Alingsas, and in 1724 established a woollen factory in the village. After preliminary difficulties it became a very profitable business. He next established a sugar refinery at Gothenburg, introduced improvements in the cultivation of potatoes and of plants suitable for dyeing, and directed attention to improved methods in shipbuilding, tanning and the manufacture of cutlery. But his most successful undertaking was the importation of sheep from England, Spain and Angora. He received many marks of distinction, was created (1748) knight of the order of the North Star, and a few years later received letters of nobility, with permission to change his name to Alstromer. He died on the 2nd of June 1761, leaving several works on practical industrial subjects. A statue was erected in his honour in the exchange at Stockholm. One of his sons, Clas (Claude) (1736-1794), was a naturalist of considerable eminence. During a voyage to Spain he noticed a native Peruvian plant known in Peru as the lily of the Incas, at the Swedish counsul's at Cadiz; he sent a few seeds to his master and friend, Linnaeus, who named the genus in his honour Alstromeria. He also wrote a work on sheep-breeding.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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