Jann Hinrich Andresen was born in Oevenum on the Friesian island of Föhr in 1825. His parents, Thomaz Andresen and Thunke Poppen could only afford to send him to school in winter, so he worked as a cowherd in the summer months. On this remote island canning and fishing were the dominant activities.

In 1840 aged 14, he left the island of Föhr, and set sail for Porto, as the youngest member of the crew.

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