Commit the Crime, Do the Time!

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Commit the crime, do the time. Well, Hans Samuel Molin was a victim of his times. He didn’t have the easiest start in life, right from the moment of birth. His surname wasn’t even Molin, as he was born on 24 April 1798 in Önnestad, Kristianstad County, Sweden as the illegitimate son of Sara Brita Krok/Krook. He was baptized as Hans Samuel Krook.

I have written about Sara Brita before. She was the wife of Anders Molin, but they separated and maybe divorced between 1783 and 1786, when she gave birth to a son in Everlov, Malmohus County, Sweden, who wasn’t the child of Anders, as the parish priest so clearly noted.

Hans Samuel, the third illegitimate son of his mother, not only had that stigma to carry, but he was born in the Invalide Hospital, or poorhouse, and his mother was noted as not being registered, or given permission to be there.

While Swedish records are quite good, in the case of Sara Brita and Hans Samuel, no Household Examinations have been found for them. Sara Brita died in Andrarum in 1812; it may be that she raised her children there as parish records for that village don’t begin until the 1830’s, long after she had died and the children had reached adulthood. In fact, the child born immediately before Hans Samuel, brother Johan Jacob, turned 21 years old only four weeks before their mother died.

One thing is for certain, in 1812, 14 year old Hans Samuel wasn’t living with his oldest half-brother, Hans Niclas Molin, in Öved as he isn’t found on the Moving In lists or on the Household Examination where Hans Niclas’s own family appears.

By 1819, though, Hans Samuel makes regular appearances in parish records – a lot of them. Between 1819 and 1823, he lived in Sodra Mellby, Simris, Tryde and then Ekerod (Roddinge), where he married Berta Jonsdotter on 10 June 1823.

Settling down didn’t seem to be in his nature, though, because between 1823-1835, Hans Samuel, Berta and then their four daughters lived in Sallshog, Tolanga, Svenstorp, Herrestad, Ravlunda, Svabesholm, and Ystad-St. Maria, where it was noted that he left Ystad on 17 October 1835 for Skivarp.

The next record is one that was peculiar.

ArkivDigital: Skivarp House Exam 1838-1844

If you look closely at the top left corner next to Enkan Kjerstina (Widow Christina), aged 77, you can see, in small letters “Fatt H,” which is the Swedish abbreviation for Fattighuset, or poorhouse.

In the fattighuset are, from the fourth entry down, Hustru Molin med Barn – Housewife Molin with children. Below her are son Andreas, daughter Sophia and daughter Petronella.

This is a very odd entry because it identifies Mrs. Molin, not widow Molin, but there is absolutely no mention of husband Hans Samuel and the family is living in the poorhouse.

At first, I thought that Hans Samuel might have just upped and left his family. Then my newly discovered Molin distant cousin, Krister, found another document in the Moving In records of Skivarp:

Skivarp Moving In Records

The notation with the family said Hans Molin’s wife and four children were being sent to the Skivarp poorhouse by order of the Malmo governor’s office. Krister speculated that perhaps they were sent there because they couldn’t support themselves because Hans Samuel was in prison. They had come from Skivarp so it was the village’s obligation to house them. That led to a search of the prisoner rolls in Malmo, as there was a jail there. The answer was quickly found in two records:

Hans Molin, 27 May 1840


Prisoner Rolls, Hans Molin 23 May 1840
First Entry on the Page

As I’ve said before, I don’t speak/read Swedish and it was late at night when I found this. With the time zone differences, I wouldn’t hear from Krister until the next morning, but I couldn’t wait to find out what kind of crime had caused him to be imprisoned and his family sent to the poorhouse. I posted a query on the Swedish American Genealogy Group on Facebook requesting translation help and, within fifteen minutes or so, I had my answer.

Apparently, in that time period in Sweden everyone carried papers that served more or less as a domestic passport. Typical identifying information was included – name, birth date, birth place. However, there were two additional pieces of information – residence, which was supposed to be entered into church parish records when one moved in or moved out, and occupation. It was against the law in Sweden to be unemployed if you were able to work.

For what crime was Hans jailed? He was unemployed! In the right column, the comment says he was released on 27 May 1740 and was ordered to find work in Skivarp so he could support himself and his family.

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