The coat of arms on the front of the building belongs to the Abildgaard family. Peter Abildgaard was parish priest in Røros from 1726 until 1778. Abildgaard means ‘apple orchard’ and one can make out apples carved on the coat of arms. In his second marriage this priest married Anne Hiort (hart), sister of the General Manager of the Company, Peder Hiort, so this could be the explanation for the head of a deer or hart on the shield.
In 1806 Peter Schnitler Krag sold the building to Morten Leigh, a Røros trader, and it has been used for business ever since. In 1820 Magnus Engzelius was made a partner in Madam Leigh’s company and since then the building has been connected to the name of Engzelius, which went on to become the name of one of the richest families in Røros.
The priest, Peter Abilgaard (1695-1778) arrived in Røros from Trondheim in 1726. Abilgaard was dedicated to schools and education and was also chairman of the poor house. During the celebrations to mark the centenary of the copper works in 1744 Abildgaard delivered his famous ‘Rejoice’ sermon, one of the main sources of knowledge about the early years at the copper works.
Abilgaard pursued his interest in the sciences and the bishops of the time described him as a capable Government official. The Bishop Johan Ernst Gunnerus wrote in 1764, ‘ The Parish Records are well written and accurate, and Mr Abilgaard is considered by the others to be an able and fair priest. Apart from theology he was also most interested in the subjects of, mathematics, physics and botany. When professor Christian Oeder from Copenhagen, who was the author of ‘Flora Danica’ (Danish Flowers), travelled throughout Trondelag to study plants he received great assistance from the parish priest in Røros.
Among Abilgaard’s contemporaries and acquaintances were the scientists Peter Hiort, the General Manager of the copper works and the historians Gerhard Schonning and P.H. Suhm as well as Oeder and Gunnerus.
As was the case for the other dignitaries in Røros the priest also kept his own livestock and poultry. At that time a seter or summer dairy farm at Pinsti belonged to house no. 16.
The most colourful and conspicuos of all the line of businessmen in the Engzelius family must be Johan Magnus Engzelius (1821-1893). He lived together with his wife and their 11 children in house no. 16. Johan Magnus Engzelius was called ‘brukspatron’ a Swedish word to show that he was the owner and perhaps equivalent to the English word ‘squire’. He owned a large number of properties that he had either inherited or gained by speculation. From his father he inherited the farming property of Vestre Malmagen together with Ljusnedals Sawmills. He exchanged the mill for a country property at Bjornebo in Uppsala, Sweden, sometime later he acquired a valuable town property at Kungsholmen in Stockholm. When he sold the property in Stockholm he invested in several forest properties at Sarna in Dalarna. It was said that he owned a fifth of the district of Sarna. He built many large houses on his properties in Sweden. During his lifetime Vestre Malmagen was used as a dairy farm to supply his shop in the Leigh building in Røros. It was apparently said that ‘the squire’ acquired farm animals from people who owed him money and were unable to pay him back. In Røros itself, he owned large tracts of land and he also owned the aristocratic country house, Sundstedet or Leigh-Sundet.
Johan Magnus Engzelius was educated as a mining engineer at Falun in Sweden and completed other courses of education in Switzerland and Germany. He married the daughter of a businessman, Anne Collin Falch and had 11 children by her. Many of the children went on to obtain higher education.
Johan Magnus Engzelius travelled a great deal – often to Oslo and also to his properties in Sweden. He found it difficult to settle when he was living in Røros. When he was away from Røros, his business interests were taken care of by his appointed confidential clerk, A. Christophersen.
Johan Magnus Engzelius died at Sundbakken in 1893. Madam Anna Engzelius continued to run the business. Gustaf (1859-1924), their son, took over the business when Anna died. Gustaf Engzelius was educated in Sweden and Germany. He was a man with initiative and undertook a complete renovation of the Leigh building. He made the Finne building into his private residence. He also owned the Bredal property, ‘Bredalsgaarden’.
The list of the owners of the trading house ‘Engzelius’:
1: Magnus Engzelius (1791-1868 )
2. Johan Magnus Engzelius (1821- 1893)
3. Gustaf Engzelius sen (1859 – 1924)
4. Gustaf Engzelius jun (1886 -1937)
5. Rolf Engzelius (1917-1971)
6. Roald Engzelius (født 1953)
7. Sverre og Rolf Engzelius (født 1976)