18th & 19th Century Family Mobility in Southern Sweden

In my previous post, I mentioned that my Swedish ancestors were very mobile, working from place to place. Actually, it is historically accurate to say that Swedes who lived in the southern part of the country, particularly in the old Malmöhus County, which covered most of the southern tip of Sweden in the 1800s, moved far more frequently than residents in northern Sweden.

I don’t know why that is true, but in addition to traveling around southern Sweden, a number of Swedes migrated to Norway and even more settled in Denmark.

Why did residents move so frequently? First, if a man or woman was an unskilled laborer or a farm worker, they had to live where they could find a job. It was actually illegal to not have a job and a way to support yourself and jail sentences were regularly handed out by the local court.

Second, it was common for men to marry in their very late 20s or even well into their 30s. Accordingly, they moved where the work was. Females also married later than, say, their counterparts in New England, where young ladies typically married around age 21. I have a number of female ancestors who, like the men, married in their late 20s or early 30s and then started a family.

With the later average age for marriages, there are many instances of children born out of wedlock. For those children, life was more difficult as they had no family stability in the home.

Third, once children were in their late teens, they were expected to get a job. That meant that by the time they reached 20 years old, many children no longer lived at home because their job was too far away to walk to and from their parents’ home each day.

Hans Samuel Molin is the youngest of the children born to Sara Brita Krook, mother of yesterday’s sketch on Jöns Abraham Krook.

Hans Samuel always used the Molin surname and he definitely wins first prize for the person who moved the most times in his life.

Here is a timeline of his life and the places he lived:

1798: born in Önnestad
1820: moved into Tryde
1820: moved to Simris
1822: lived in Röddinge
1823: married in Ekeröd
1823: daughter born in Tryde
1825: lived in Tolånga
1826: daughter born in Östra Vemmerlöv
1828: lived in Ravlunda
1832: son born in Södra Mellby
1835: lived in Ystad St. Maria parish
1836: daughter born in Skivarp
1840: left Malmö and moved to Skivarp
1840: lived in the Raus poor house
1848: lived in Hjärnarp
1851: moved out of Hjärnarp
c1854: taxed in Båstad
1862: died in Blentarp

What does this list look like in terms of geography? Well the map program wouldn’t let me add any more locations after Ystad, so the purple arrows represent Skivarp, and then Raus, Hjärnarp and Båstad in the top left corner, off the map, and, finally, Blentarp, which is the arrow at the bottom center of the map near Skurup.

Hans Samuel literally lived all over southern Sweden in his 64 years of life and I imagined he walked many of those miles.

How did I find him in all these places? I mentioned that Sweden kept some fabulous records. They didn’t take national censuses, but did create an even better set of records called Moving In and Moving Out records.

As persons moved from place to place, they were required (but didn’t always do) to visit the minister to tell him where they were moving. The minister noted the date and the place where they planned to live. The receiving minister recorded the same information in the new town.

Believe me, even knowing where Hans Samuel was off to next kept me plenty busy trying to find him in those records and then in the Household Records organized by families in each parish.

As you can see, Hans Samuel never stayed long in one place even after he married. Records note him as a watchmaker, a saddle maker, farmhand and forest worker, along with several abbreviated occupations such as “Carab” and others I can’t make out clearly enough to even try to translate. He and his family were even forced to live in the poor house in Raus because he had no job.

Life was tough for Hans Samuel Molin, born in the poor house, with an unknown father and raised with no occupational skills. However, he married when he was 25 and raised five children with his wife, Berta Jönsdotter.

This snapshot view of one man provides a glimpse of his difficult life circumstances. The map certainly gives me a perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have, given my limited knowledge of the geography of Malmöhus County.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.