Most Swedes in the 19th century had a last name from their father’s name, a patronymic. But there were other types of surnames. One, probably the largest, of the groups with a different type of last names was the soldiers. They went by a solider’s name (soldatnamn).
The ground for soldier’s names
When joining the army, most soldiers used patronymics like everybody else. To help distinguish the soldiers from each other, they were given an official last name, a soldier’s name.
The soldier’s names could be practically anything, but there are trends in how they were formed. They are often a noun, sometimes an adjective. They could also refer to a place name. The following examples are picked from records of retired soldiers (gratialist) .
|Hjelm||Helmet, old spelling|
|Sköld/Schöld||Shield, current/old spelling|
|Dufwa||Pigeon, old spelling|
|Lindgren||Lind: Lime tree, gren: branch|
Who used a soldier’s name
The soldier’s name was a personal last name for the soldier. It is rare to see a whole family using the soldier’s name as a last name. Often the soldier kept his soldier’s name after retirement. Sometimes it was passed on to the next soldier.
When soldier’s names became family names
At the beginning of the 20th century family names became compulsory in Sweden. Many families then assumed a soldier’s name as a surname.
In the decades leading up to the name regulation in 1901 , it became more common for families to take a family name. Many of those names are similar to the soldier’s names; with a combination of two words from nature. So the name alone can’t tell you that your ancestor was a soldier.
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- AMA.0021236, 1890-1891, Armémuseum.
- Krigskollegium Krigsmanshuskontoret D:17b (1813-1829)
- Södra Ving AI:1 (1777-1794) p 38
- Naming law in Sweden, Wikipedia, retrieved 2020-03-24