Where you find the mantal number
Have you seen that number in the margins of the Household records? It’s usually a fraction. The number may also be written above the household. Sometimes it’s followed by the word mantal. Often it also says oförmedlade, förmedlade, or for short ofm mtl, fm mtl or just m. How can all that be connected? Let’s look closer at it!
The household record above is from Blackstad Parish, Kalmar County in Småland in 1826-1831.  The little number ¼ in front of Anders Persson’s name is the number for the mantal of the farm. You might easily brush off this little note. But it’s useful for understanding the circumstances of your Swedish ancestors.
It correlates with taxes
One of my favorite sources, the 1876 encyclopeida Nordisk Familjebok, describes the term mantal.  There you can read that the size of the mantal decided the size of taxes and other public duties.
It correlates with the production of a farm
The mantal has its ground in the 15th century. At the time taxation was based on the number of men cultivating a field. The word comes from man, meaning man as in English, and tal, number.
Eventually a system developed that took into account the production of the land. So that 1 mantal was the land for one farmer who owned the land, or two leasing farmers. This was the use of the word from the early 17th century.
The more the farm produced, the higher were the taxes. So a larger farm would have a larger number.
But it can not be translated to a square measure. It doesn’t tell you the size of the land.
Förmedlade and oförmedlade mantal
As mentioned above, you will often find the words förmedlade/fm or oförmedlade/ofm in connection with mantal.
When the mantal number was adjusted, the new number was the förmedlade mantal. The old number was the oförmedlade mantal. Some civil rights were related to the this number. The encyclopedia mentions the right to vote for priest and bell-ringer. 
This Household record is from Fagerhult Parish, Kalmar County, 1881-1890.  Nils Anders Magnusson and his wife Anna Fredrika Habbe lived on the farm Axebo. According to the note at the top, the farm was of ½ ofm, short for oförmedlade, mantal. The little note ¼ by the name Nils is possibly the number of the förmedlade mantal.
That’s all you need to know
Now you know everything you need to know about this important Swedish term. It will tell you something abouth the economic conditions for your ancestors. But it doesn’t tell you the size of the farm. Mantal tells you how much the farm gave.
If you enjoyed this, these blog posts might also interest you:
- Laga Skifte – How Sweden Changed Through Land Reforms
- Why every other Swede was poor in 1850
- Geographical Terms in Sweden
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- Blackstads kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/VALA/00035/A I/7 (1826-1831), bildid: C0026744_00024, sida 16
- Nordisk familjebok, Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag 1886, retrieved 2020-09-24.
- Nordisk familjebok, Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag 1882, retrieved 2020-09-24.
- Fagerhults kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/VALA/00077/A I/7 (1881-1890), bildid: C0026954_00009, sida 1a