Swedish Priests’ Names

Scandinavians didn’t use hereditary surnames in most cases until about 1900. Their customs would surprise many Americans.

The following information was adapted from a posting to the Norrbotten mailing list by Gwen Boyer Björkman.

Before the Protestant Reformation, a clergyman used only his given name preceded by Herr (Sir). Thus Herr Johannes, Herr Mikael, Herr Petrus and Herr Wilhelmus. When it became necessary to differentiate between two priests having the same given name, a patronymic was added, but Latinized:

Abraham Andersson = Abrahamus Andrex

Björn Bengtsson = Bero Benedicti

Anders Danielsson = Andreas Danielis

Bengt Eriksson = Benedictus Erici

Johan Henriksson = Johannes Henrici

Nils Håkansson = Nicolaus Haquini

Gabriel Johansson = Gabriel Johannis

Erik Larsson = Ericus Laurentii

Matthias Olofsson = Matthias Olai

Henrik Simonsson = Henricus Simonis

Lars Steffansson = Laurentius Stephani

Göran Svensson = Georgius Svenonis

As time went on, these Latinized forms were not sufficient to correctly identify the clergy. Thus, when students enrolled at the University of Uppsala or at the University of Åbo in Finland, it became necessary to add an identifier, usually the Latinized forms of their birth places. If we examine the clergy of the Diocese of Västerås during the 17th century, we find a few of these names:

Olaus Andreæ Arosiensis from Västerås Bartholdus

Petri Cuprimontanus from Kopparberg Parish

Matthias Erici Dalekarlus from the province of Dalarna

Ericus Petri Dingtunensis from Dingtuna Parish

Laurentius Andreæ Gevaliensis from Gävle

Andreas Pauli Helsingus from Hälsingland

Petrus Jonæ Kolbeckius from Kolbäck Parish

Andreas Andreæ Norxmontanus from Norberg Parish

Gudmundus Petri Rettvikensis from Rättvik Parish

Nicolaus Erici Segerstadius from Segerstad Parish

Johannes Danielis Tunensis from Tuna Parish

If a priest’s father had a surname, the priest might Latinize that name. For example, Johannes Laurentius Betulius, whose father was named Björk, which in Swedish means birch.

As time passed, clerical students used other methods to create names that were commensurate with their social station. One popular method was to add theScandinavians didn’t use hereditary surnames in most cases until about 1900. Their customs would surprise many Americans. Greek word ander (man) as the last syllable of a name:

Alander, Arenander, Arosiander, Betulander, Björkander, Carlander, Dalander, Delander, Dryander, Elander, Fornander, Gasslander, Gullander, Hållander, Insulander, Jullander, Karlander, Kilander, Kylander, Lysander, Mellander, Nylander, Olander, Pållander, Rollander, Svenander, Tennander, Ulander, Vikander, Wallander, and Ylander.

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