Genealogy Articles

(Not Related to a Specific Family)

Are your cousins’ children your second cousins or are they your nieces and nephews?  And what exactly do you call your parents’ cousins?  In both cases, they are your first cousins once-removed.  OK, so what does once-removed mean?  (One family member told me being removed makes it sound like a person has been disowned by the family.) And why are some relatives born a generation before you called the same thing as some relatives born a generation after you?

Would you be surprised to know that as you study your genealogy you will probably find first-cousin marriages in your family?  You shouldn’t be, and if you are, you will get over it quickly if you spend much time analyzing your family tree. Marriages between cousins were very common in many cultures, including many western countries, such as the United States and Europe until the early to mid-1900s.  And, today many cultures still practice cousin marriages.  

Here are some interesting and confusing facts about Swedish names:

(1) Did you know that Ersson is the same name as Ericksson or Eriksson? Or that Persdotter, Petersdr, and Petersdotter are all the same name? Well, they are - at least most of the time. The Swedish people, especially Swedish record keepers, tend to abbreviate everything. This frequently results in one or more duplicate entries for many people on the ancestry websites as many people accept the abbreviated forms of a name because it came from a record of some kind. 

(2) Did you know the Swedish alphabet has three more letters than the English; Å, Ä and Ö? They are distinct letters and ordered at the end of the alphabet, after Z; [ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZÅÄÖ]. This means the names Jönsson and Jonsson are two different names.

Prior to records being kept, people had one name, such as Mary, Elisabeth, Johan, or Erik.  When it became necessary to distinguish among individuals with the same name, descriptive information was usually added to the name.  For example, Erik the smith, Erik the son of Johan, or Erik from Boras.

The use of primary patronyms[1] instead of hereditary surnames was common in Sweden and other Nordic countries until 1901 when permanent, hereditary surnames became mandatory.  And, prior to 1901 when a Nordic woman married she did not change her name.  (Name laws have changed again making it possible for people to go back to using patronyms or matronyms instead of hereditary surnames.)