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mandag 1. november 2010

Sandefjord: the First Intellectuals

The term “intellectual” is probably not so well chosen; it somehow aims far too high compared with the reality that was Sandefjord before the 19th century: a small village located in a larger agricultural parish and attached, legally in some contexts, to the proper town of Larvik 10 miles away.

Nevertheless, the material available identifies a few individuals whose work must have been primarily of the head rather than of the hand, and this is an attempt to remember them – by simply mentioning them one by one and in public.

The earliest possible among these was a gentleman called Søffren Pedersen who lived in Sandefjord and died there in 1680[i]. His position in life is described as “Borger til Lauervigen”, that is, citizen of the town of Larvik. That sounds rather grand, but basically means he is allowed to trade there – and in Sandefjord. A man of this background was bound to have some literacy if for no other reason to be able to conduct commercial business.

Others with similar background, but later, included Hans Christensen who died around 1742; Iens Holch, 1743; Hans Christiansen in the same year; Poul Conrad Bøchman in 1754; Iohannes Mørch the same year; Anders Andersen who missed the French Revolution by dying early 1789; Christopher Weyer, 1798; Wilhelm Hvidt is mentioned 1794; so is Johannes Nielsen Grøn; Abraham Bøckmann died 1808; and perhaps others. The 18th century was the period of the Enlightenment, and surely these men and their families will have been aware of the new ideas that spread across Europe.

There  were others, too, less visible in this particular material: Ejler Brun is mentioned in 1790, with a remark that he was married to a daughter of Vicar Kielman and Stine Eeg: the Vicar would surely not have allowed his daughter to marry an illiterate peasant! Niels Olsen Hilderslev – not unlikely, judging by the name, to be of Danish extraction, was the “klokker” in Sandefjord when he died in the mid-1750’s. It was not uncommon for this category of church official to be tasked with the teaching of children – to prepare them for confirmation or for more secular purposes.

In 1701, we find 78 persons identified as living in Sandefjord[ii]: 72 men and 6 women; in other words, this is a list not of inhabitants but of taxpayers – primarily. Among the men we find two who are described as “Borger”: One is Borger til Lauervigen, Allexander Knudssen, aged 37; the other is “Borger til Sandefiord og Lauervigen” – which is a curious construction as Sandefjord at this stage did not have the quality required to have citizens. Or am I mistaken? In any case, he was called Hans Anundsen and was 59 years of age.

Others in this census were Simen Christenssen, a customs official of 39 years; Anders Amundssen, “klokker” – who complained at not having an official residence – and, vey early for Norway, Niels Bentzøn, aged 38 and described as “skollemester” – “school  master”. How many people were there in Norway at that time, whose occupation would include the word “School” – outside the major cities, that is?

Another census taken for tax purposes[iii] - an additional tax in this case – provides a larger sample but less detail about the people. A total of 217 individuals are included; 131 women and 86 men.

For some of them a designation was recorded, but not very many and in those cases there was one finds a mixture of occupations and courtesy terms: of the 19 recorded two are blacksmiths; five are referred to as “Mr” – which might be an abbreviation of “Monsieur” or “Monsignor”;  one is “Ædle M” – and since the given name is missing it is not know whether this is a man or a woman, but as” Ædle” means “noble” one would assume a fairly high social status is indicated.

There is also “Mad Mag Sal Hellevads”; presumably the widow of “Sal Hellevads”, the sainted Hellevad, so to speak.  She is “Mad”, one presumes for Madame, not in reference to her mental condition (and they wouldn’t have spoken all that much English in any case at this time) but the interesting bit is the “Mag” before Hellevad:  it would not be entirely unreasonable to consider the possibility that this is an abbreviation of “Magister”: in that case the earliest known Sandefjordian with a university degree?

Among the 373 individuals mentioned as living in Sandefjord parish in 1801, the occupation of 188 are indicated in the census of that year[iv].
Standardising the professions in English, 22 have income from handicrafts; 32 are able-bodied seamen; 47 are in service; 7 are merchants; five do weaving; there no less than 6 apprentice blacksmiths; 6 are “sailors”, the same number are “day labourers”.

Peder Jensen Møller combines the roles of shoemaker and police officer, a role he probably would not be able to play without some bookish learning; Engel Syvertsen Wold was, at the age of 56, a customs official and also not able to function without a basis in some minimum education.

Malene Grav, at the age of 27 and unmarried, is noted as “jordmor” – midwife – which is relatively early if she was a properly trained (they were trained in Copenhagen where the relevant institution accepted Norwegian students since about half a century earlier, but the profession was not properly regulated till later).

Bent Lindberg, 71 years old, was “Consumtionbetient og brandmester” – the latter term means Fire Chief, the former is a term related to the customs service; both would require a bit of bookish learning.

At the same time Mathis Hansen Raastad – Raastad being a farm in the neighbouring parish of Sandeherred – is listed as “Seminarist og skoleholder” – having theological training but making a living providing schooling: whether stationary or ambulatory is not indicated.

Jens Mathiesen, Premier Lieutenant in the 2nd Aggerhussiske Infantry, is another whose education might qualify him for conversation; just like Jonas  Christian Rosenvold who had retired from “land etaten” – the land survey?

Hans Tveten was the organist in the local church which, as locals will know, was only a few years old at this time: a marvel of modern architecture and, one presumes organ technology. Hans was 34 and married to Gunnild Susanna who was 49: perhaps best described as a marriage of convenience.

Jens Pedersen Bøeg was only 22; but he is described as “Studiosus og informator” – which at least means he was a student at the university in Copenhagen (Norway didn’t have one till 12 years later), possibly trying to make some money to finance the continuation of his studies, or just biding his time till he could obtain a suitable position.

Johanne Elisabth Schelven was a relatively young widow at 47, having been left in that condition by the death of her husband the Provost, for which reason she has a pension from the clerical pension fund.

In additional to these who have been mentioned there are a number of ship-owners, merchants, skippers and others who will have been exposed to and interested in the scientific, philosophical and theological developments that took place in the 18th century: they will have known of their own, and even more as a result of their links with Larvik, of the major intellectual trends in Europe.

If they did not exactly discuss these matters in the inn kept by the blacksmith establishment of  Mrs Maren Sophie Knudsdatter’s in Væstre Gade, they would have talked about it with their peers: the establishment in Sandherred, Larvik or Tönsberg.

In other words: the community was small; the world large. Like in 2010.

[ii] Ketil Firing Hanssen: 1701-manntalet frå Larvik grevskapDigitalpensjonatet, Digitalarkivet

[iii] Ekstraskatt 1762: Larvik m/Langest. og Sandefj.; available at
[iv]  See the 1801 census for Sandeherred at

tirsdag 26. oktober 2010

Given Names in 1701

The census of 1701 that can be found at Digitalarkivet contains 72 men living in Sandefjord. Their names are quite varied; there is a total of 38 given names among them, distributed like this:

The women - 6 in number - are too few to give an impression of preferences: there are 6 names among them

Dreadful, innit?

Here’s the sad situation of Anders Amundsen, a dignified person of 51 years in 1701, so born around 1650.

Not much is known about him, but he is noted in the census of 1701 for the County of Laurvig, as registered by Ketil Firing Hansen at Digitalarkivet[1].

At this time he was the sacristan in the local church (presumably, the one of Sandar parish, to use the modern designation, which included Sandefjord till late in the 19th century).

In any case, Anders is in Sandefjord, he has a job, but he has no residence allocated to him as an assistant to the vicar – the “degn”, derived from “deacon” but not quite the same function.

Given that he is already well and truly middle aged, and as the job probably didn’t pay all that much, he probably had to rent housing in Sandfjord, expensive even if he had not had to house a couple of sons, too: Amund, aged 13, and Anders, 11.

The latter is noted as “at home”, perhaps implying the elder one was already in service somewhere, but there is no evidence either way.

In any case, Anders Amundsen was been sufficiently aggrieved to notify the census-taker, even if the vicar lived closed by. One wonders who the vicar was at this time – or perhaps there was none?

mandag 25. oktober 2010

Early teachers in Sandefjord

Siffrt Jensen is described as “Skolemester” – School Master – in the register of probates for Larvik 1672 – 1812 that can be consulted at

He is described as the son of Jens Hansen, whose estate was finally closed 16.06.1676, and who is described as living in Sandefjord; whether the son, too, did so is not explicitly noted. In any case, the entry is evidence of the existence of a teacher in, if not Sandefjord itself, the neighbourhood as early as latter half of the 17th century.

The ”1701-manntalet frå Larvik grevskap”, also from digitalarkivet, contains a record of Niels Bentzøn, described as “Skollemester” in Sandefjord.

According to the same above-mentioned register, in 1746, there was a “skoleholder” – someone who keeps a school and, presumably, teaches – in Sandefjord, glorying in the name of Christian Cassius. He was married to a woman called Anna Christina Ulrichsdtr Hassel of what seems to have been a family in Larvik.

In 1801, the teaching profession was somewhat expanded. In the census for Sandherred of that year we find Mathis Hansen Raastad living in Sandefjord, 24 years old and lodging with Mathis Gutormsen Berg in house 27 in Østre Gade, as well as Jens Pedersen Bøeg, 22 years old, living in the house of merchant and ship-owner Wilhelm Olsen Goen at house 14 in Væstre Gade. Described as “conditionerende”, his occupation is given as “Studiosus og informator”, which can easily be interpreted as a student who has come home, or gone somewhere, to make a few bob teaching privately. At any rate, probably a teacher of some description.

One might note, that in the surrounding Sandeherred parish, which contained Sandefjord at the time, there were an additional three individuals associated with the teaching profession: Lars, 21 years old and liv, is described as “Skoeleholder” at the age of 21; from the context it looks like he is son of Ditmng at From Søndreand Lasen, but that would have made his mother 48 when she gave birth. Possible, but perhaps not likely. The others were Ole Olsen , 34,living at Tuve, also “skoeleholder”, and “Skoelemester” Halvor Johnsen, aged 64, living at Houhem, and at this stage a widower.

søndag 24. oktober 2010

Genders and Occupations

When one looks at the occupations of people in the 1801 census – or any other census before the late 20th century – one is always influenced by a sense of which forms of work are associated with women, and which with men. And, if someone is noted as living off “blacksmithing”, the image in one’s mind tends stabilize around the idea of a rather large, quite hairy, bearded or – at the very least – moustachioed, man hammering away at his pieces of red-hot iron until he gets thirsty and visits an inn: in this case, the other part of the occupation given to the census-taker.

One would – one often is – be mistaken, though, for the person who makes a living from “Inn-keeping and smithing-work” is a woman, more precisely, Mrs Maren Sophie Knudsdatter, a 48 year old widow, for the second time, with “housewife” noted as her position in the family[1].

In reality, one imagines, at least one if not both of her husbands – the first called Søren, the second Gjert, judging from the patronymics used Maren Sophie’s children, would have been the black-smith and Maren Sophie has inherited the business and keeps it in order to hand it over to her oldest son, Christen Lorentz Sørensen who, himself, at the age of 24 is a Master Blacksmith.

Another dimension of this little speculation is that Maren Sophie probably looked after the inn-keeping business in a personal manner; the children of the second marriage are on the young side to be useful with anything but the simpler tasks, and any way they are both boys who have been apprenticed to their mother: another somewhat fictional arrangement as one would presume they are learning from their half brother rather than the mother.

The last child is little Berthe Heleene, who is 9 years old at this time. Her christening can be found in the parish records for Sandar, which shows she was baptised[2] on 22 April 1792, daughter of Giert Christiansen Reinert and wife Maren Sophie Knudsdatter. Witnesses included Andrea Henrichsd Sohr (?); Jfr Charlotte Anglia Thue; Sr Jahn Sörensen Töyen, Thor Sörensen; and Giert Jahnsen – all, it seems, from Sandefjord or – as the entry appears to say – “on” (paa) Sandefjord.

In 1801, Maren Sophie and her family lived at 2, Væstre Gade and a few houses away, at number 7, we find one Ole Christansen Reinert, aged 50, and an able-bodied seaman noted as sailing internationally, and his family consisting of a wife (both in the first marriage) and their two small children[3]. This Ole must be the brother of Giert, one presumes.

Intriguingly, there is another blacksmith with an interesting name, Reiner, in Sandefjord at the time: Jeremias Andreasen Reiner and his family live in house 20 in Væstre Gade, and has, as his occupation, Master Blacksmith and Inn-keeper. There is absolutely no evidence f a connection, so far, but it is striking that there are two blacksmiths who also run inns just a few houses apart in a small village that contains no more than 373 souls.

An intriguing possibility:

Looking for a record of Maren Sophie’s baptism, the christening of one Sören-Lorentz was found in the parish records for Sandar for the year 1753, where a boy of that name is noted to have been baptized 29 November, the son of Christen Larsen and Hana Hansd, paa Sandefjord[4].

This child seems to have died young, as he is not included in the 1762 material[5], whereas both parents are there, with three children of their own: Laers, Zyverine, and Johannes, all with Christen as their patronymic, and then a fourth child called Anne Lisbeth Jensdatter, whom they may have fostered or otherwise looked after.

In any case, it is the combination of given names that is of interest here, as Maren Sophie’s two older sons both have the name Lorentz and the eldest even Sören Lorentz, which may or may not be a clue to a relationship.

And with that, today’s speculation endeth.

[2] Kildeinformasjon: Vestfold fylke, Sandar, Ministerialbok nr. 3 (1789-1814), Fødte og døpte 1792, side 24. 
Permanent sidelenke:
Permanent bildelenke:
[4] Kildeinformasjon: Vestfold fylke, Sandar, Ministerialbok nr. 2 (1733-1788), Fødte og døpte 1753, side 54. Permanent sidelenke: Permanent bildelenke:
[5] Ekstraskatt 1762: Larvik m/Langest. og Sandefj., see

onsdag 13. oktober 2010

Food and drink, anyone?

In 1801, too, there were places where a person could get a drink, some food and a bed for the night, perhaps.

Maren Sophie Knudsdatter in Væstre Gade, having become a widow –possibly for the second time – lived off inn-keeping and blacksmithing: a combination that might have ensured some discipline among younger members of the drinking classes.

Another widow, Elen Maria Christensdatter, also in Væstre Gade, provided quarter to travellers besides her inn-keeping.

Jeremias Andreasen Reiner, who was 39, combined his metier as master blacksmith with innkeeping – again in Væstre Gade – but as he was also married to Andrea Kristine Norr aged 29 and had his own mother – aged 82 – living with him, one might be forgiven for suspecting that much of the work in the inn was done by the womenfolk, not Jeremias himself.

In Østre Gade, Johannes Nielsen Grøn managed to combine fishery with inn-keeping but, again, one might suspect the inn was kept by his wife Anne Knudsdatter Hellevad. Both of them were in their late fifties, and both were married for the second time.

In any case, with 373 inhabitants, four inns is not bad, working out as one for every 91 inhabitants. In today’s municipality – which is not really comparable except for the name – that would imply around 440 pubs in Sandefjord? Somebody really needs to get cracking.
A huge transcription work carried out by Ketil Firing-Hansen makes it possible to have a snapshot of the population of Sandefjord in 1701. Naturally the material has its limitations: there are 78 people listed, of whom 72 are men: women appear to have been included only when they are economic actors – and hence tax subjects – in their own right. Hence the inclusion of four widows.

More intriguingly, there are two more women included: they are described as “huusquinder”. The author of this blog is not at all sure what a “huusquinde” was – but someone else might be able to contribute an explanation.

It is difficult to know what the overall population of Sandefjord might have been, given that women were not registered, but if one uses the ratio found in the 1801 census, there ought to have been 85-90 women in the settlement giving an estimate of the total number of inhabitants in the region of, say, 160 people.

On the other hand, the graph showing the distribution of ages among men seems to display a deficit of men in the ages from 15 to 50 or thereabouts: the most productive years. One might speculate that this represents men who were absent, for one reason or another, and therefore not counted. If so, up to 35-40 men might have to be added; perhaps 45-50 women, and thus the total estimated population would be as high as 240-250 people: not inconsistent with the population in 1762.

Be that as it may – it is highly speculative. What is not speculative, though, is the undoubted chivalry of the census-takers: among the six women they counted, none had her age revealed. Plus ça change.

lørdag 25. september 2010

Sandefjord in 1762: Their Names

The 217 souls in Sandefjord in 1762 shared 104 unique given names (depending a bit on how one counts: is Elen and Elen Maria 1, 2 or 3 names?). They carried 89 second/third names, many of them patronymics, some seemingly fixed family names, yet others related to where they have come from.

These “second” names that are not patronymics are 24 in number:

Tideman Mørk

It is difficult to draw any conclusions from such a small and un-investigated sample, but some of the names are, one can speculate, not of a local origin, and probably not from Norway – at least not originally. 

Bøckman, Holk, Hvid, Langbechs, Lerk, Sylnus, Schølert, Schriber, Tideman Mørk, Wærner, Weyer and  Wright belong in this category and may represent a set of people associated with government functions, trade, or “intellectual” pursuits – a teacher, for example. But speculation it remains.

Among the unique given names, there are many “traditional” names in the sense of being common in the population over long periods (Anne, Berthe, Hans, Inger, Marthe, Paul or Søren, for example), while others appear less usual and more interesting: Abelone, Billo, Magnelle, Magnolea, Nicolaida and Zyverine are examples (although and admittedly, the last one is a spelling variation.

Among girls and women, the most popular given name was Maren (15) followed by Anne (10) and Karen (9). Anders (9) was the most common man’s name, followed by Ole (7) and Hans (5).

31 men’s names and 33 women’s names were carried by a single person – if unique combinations of names, and spelling variations are taken into account.

Without those qualifications, there are 29 unique men’s names and 31 women’s carried by a single person – altogether 60 individuals, or nearly a third of the population.

fredag 24. september 2010

Not all migrants are new kids on the block!

Having come to live in Sandefjord as a kid, via Sweden and Japan, I have always been seen as an immigrant,
someone slightly alien; everybody was frightfully polite about it, but it was made quite clear I was not local like
everybody else. Hence my sense of accomplishment when I found the following family in the 1762 tax
assessment (Ekstraskatt 1762: Larvik m/Langest. og Sandefj.; see

1292 45 Poul Conrad Bøckman Mand betaler for de fattige
1293 45 Maren Olsdatter Hustrue betaler for de fattige
1294 45 Abraham Bøckman Børn
1295 45 Anne Bøckman Børn
1296 45 Hana Mathiesdatter Pige
1297 45 Maren Olsdatter Andre

My enthusiasm was triggered by the surname, and a bit of elementary investigation showed that Poul Conrad
was the brother of one of my ancestors - my 8G Grandfather, no less.

Me, the new arrival, had relatives living in Sandefjord long before most of my friends!

Revenge is sweet, but the people of the village of Sandefjord are good, and I shall seek their friendship.

tirsdag 21. september 2010

Sandefjord 1762: Some Statistical Trivia

The database shown at “Digitalarkivet” under the heading “Ekstraskatt 1762: Larvik m/Langest. og Sandefj[1].” contains 217 individuals in a total of 70 households of varying size.

Most of the inhabitants were women or, to be precise, female - 131 – and the number of male persons was only 86; quite unbalanced, in other words.

Of the 70 households 18, or 26%, were headed by women, the other 74% by men. The proportion of the population in female headed households was 23.9%; that of male headed households 76 %: the latter were only about 10% larger, on average, in terms of numbers of members.

Although one tends to believe that households, in the past, were rather large, the ones found in this sample are not particularly so:

Number of Household Members
Number of Households

In other words, nearly two thirds of the households contained 2 or three people; only 15 % contain 5 or six people. 74% of the population lived in households with 2-4 members: not exactly one’s idea of a traditional, extended family!