Family life

Sara Lisa, Linnaeus’ wife, at the time of
her marriage in 1739.
Portrait by Johan Henrik Scheffel,
Linnaeus’ Hammarby.
Photo: Hans Odöö.

In 1739 Linnaeus married Sara Elisabeth Moraea, a doctor's daughter, usually known as Sara Lisa. Sara Lisa was a strict mother and housekeeper. Her maids had to rise at four in the morning and start spinning, with a box on the ears for anyone who overslept. Doubtless it was not easy to be married to Linnaeus who worked all the time and moreover brought into his home not only dirty plants and exotic animals but also no end of students and colleagues.

In 1741 the first child, a son Carl Linnaeus Jr, was born. There were both advantages and disadvantages of being the son of the great Linnaeus. Both his father and the rest of the world expected great things from him, doubtless too much. Even if there is every indication that Carl Jr gradually became very knowledgeable in his father's subjects it is clear that he lacked Linnaeus Sr's enthusiasm for the world of Nature. However he published some interesting papers, like Supplementum Plantarum (1781) which is still valid.

When a friend told Carl Jr that he had heard he was to succeed his father as professor, he got the answer: ”Puh! My father's successor: I would rather be a common soldier!” Nevertheless Carl von Linné Jr was made a doctor of medicine and later professor without ever having to prove his proficiency in examinations or by defending a thesis!

Carl von Linné Jr succeeded his
father as Professor of Medicine.
Portrait by Jonas Forslund.
Uppsala University collections.

Carl von Linné Jr had already succeeded his father in the year before the latter died. He worked hard to preserve his father’s natural history collections. However, he died already in the autumn of 1783, at the age of 42 years. He never married and was therefore never to hand on the surname ”von Linné”.

Linnaeus had four daughters: Elisabeth Christina 1743–1782 who married and had two children, Lovisa 1749 –1839 unmarried, Sara Christina 1751 –1835 married but childless. Sophia, 1757–1830 married with one daughter.

Linnaeus wanted his daughters to become strong, competent housekeepers and no fashion dolls. He objected to their being educated, for instance learning to speak French. When Linnaeus was staying for a while in Stockholm, Sara Lisa took the opportunity of sending Sophia to school. When the girl’s father returned he removed Sophia from school at once! However, when it came to Botany, it seems that Linnaeus could not resist his daughters’ thirst for knowledge, at any rate, not Lisa Stina’s. In 1762 she wrote a paper for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences: ”Remarks on the winking of the Indian cress”. Sophia was the prettiest of the girls and her father’s favourite.

Last modified: 2022-01-27