The preamble, or ingress, of a Swedish estate inventory followed a formulaic pattern. However, as the amount of people and circumstances could vary depending on those of the deceased, it can sometimes be tricky to work out what’s what. This is a short look at an example of a typical preamble, which I hope will help you read estate inventories on your own – or at the very least work out who’s who!
A Preamble from 1795, Submitted to Inlands Nordre District Court
Here’s the original, which I’ve split into sections using a yellow diagonal separator. Words relevant for establishing kinship have been underlined.
The first section reads:
|“Åhr 1795 den 10 februarij instälte sig
underteknade på begäran at uptek-
na och wärdera qwarlåtskapen som
|Year 1795 the 10th February, the signatories were present, by request, to record and value the estate of the…|
This is a typical example of the opening phrases used in estate inventories. The first date mentioned will always be the date that the inventory was taken. Note that this can be quite some time after the date of death, a peculiarity which is resolved in the last section of the preamble by a legal reference. The “signatories” were usually two men who were familiar with the deceased, but had no interest in the estate itself (i.e. they were not heirs).
The second section:
|“…afledne Torckel Olofsson
på Högbancken som med döden af-
led den 29 September förledit år…“
|…deceased Torckel Olofsson at Högbancken, who died the 29th of September of the previous year…|
Look out, particularly, for the first word: “…afledne…” which precedes the name of the deceased person, with the possible interpolation of his title before the name. This is then followed by the name of the farm he lived on, and a statement of the date of his death. In this case, it’s taken four and a half months between his death and the taking of the inventory.
The third section:
ken ägendom kommer at delas e-
mellan hans efterlemnade äncka
|…which property will be divided between his surviving widow Anna Pehrsdotter…|
This is the start of the enumeration of the heirs. The significant word “äncka” (or “änkling”, if the survivor is a man) means widow. This is therefore evidence that the name of Torckel’s wife at the time of his death was Anna Pehrsdotter. Take care, though, as any given individual could, as was often the case, be married several times and Anna may not have been Torckel’s only wife.
The fourth section:
|“…och hennes med afl[idne]
man under äcktenskapet samman-
|…and her with the deceased man during their marriage co-bred children…|
Excuse the translation of “sammanavlade” to “co-bred”. It’s literal, and an archaic way of stating that they are the children from their marriage together. If Torckel had children in another marriage, they would be listed separately and it would be stated clearly that they were the issue of a previous marriage.
The fifth section:
|“…sonen Olof Torckelsson,
18 år och dotren Börta Torckelsdotter 13 år
|…the son Olof Torckelsson, 18 years and daughter Börta Torckelsdotter 13 years old…|
The text here is self-explanatory. Look out for the key words, underlined. “…sonen…” being “the son” and “…dotren…” “the daughter”. These may also appear in their plurals “sönerna” and “döttrarna“. Sons were always enumerated before daughters, however the marital context could alter the order. Thus, children from one marriage could be listed first, then children from a second marriage, or the children could be listed by gender but with a note as to which marriage they were born in.
The sixth section:
|“…å hwilckas wägnar sig in-
stälte at dess rätt och bästa bewaka-
des faster man Anders Börjesson i
|…on whose behalf, and to safeguard their rights and best interest, was present aunt’s husband Anders Börjesson at Hålta…|
The children here were not yet of an age to be considered adults, and so they would have been appointed a guardian. In this case, their uncle-in-law had been selected. It was usual, but not always true, that a guardian (or guardians) were related. Here, of course, it’s perfectly clear who it is, and this information could provide an excellent clue for further research.
The seventh section
|“…änckan påmindes boet enligt
9 Cap[itlet] ärfda Bal[ken] uppgifwa, hwarefter
det framgafs af henne som följer:“
|…the widow was reminded to state, according to chapter 9 of the inheritance section [of the law], the contents of the estate, which was given by her as follows:|
Another formulaic part of the document which fulfils a requirement to ensure that the person giving up the estate does so honestly, and in the state it was on the date of the deceased’s death. You will occasionally see a note here that they’re doing this under oath. In this particular example, it’s the widow that takes care of it, and so she is the one that gets this rather stern reminder.
Have you made any discoveries in estate inventory preambles, or have you got stuck on one and don’t know how to continue? Leave a comment – maybe I can help?