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Författare Ämne: Questions resulting from Bouppteckning translation  (läst 2664 gånger)

2012-09-15, 03:54
läst 2664 gånger

Utloggad Kathryn Stone

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I've been lucky enough to have several people translate boupptecknings for me, but, as always seems to be the case, more information just leads to more questions.  
If someone could try to answer some of these for me, I would be ever so grateful:
[color=0000ff]1. Wedding Rings[/color]
[these relatives are all poor torparen, mostly in Östergötland]
  [color=0000ff].[/color] In 1843, a woman/wife has died leaving behind a husband and children, mostly all grown, and the inventory includes a silver ring, valued at 16 sk.  
  [color=0000ff].[/color] In 1814, a man/husband has died leaving behind a wife and several adult children, and the inventory includes 'the widow's gold engagement ring' which isn't given a value.
I have 7 additional bouptecknings, married men and women, died between 1790 - 1850, none of them mention a ring.  So is this a typical representation, and only rarely would a woman have a wedding band? Or . . . ?
[color=0000ff]2. Dowries[/color]
  [color=0000ff].[/color] 1788 Lars Nilsson died, the inventory includes Hemgifter [dowry?] then lists the 4 children who are of age [2 sons, 2 daughters] as having received certain amounts of money [not equal]. There are 3 additional children [1 son, 2 daughters]. When the estate is settled, all of the sons and daughters receive an inheritance that does not seem to be influenced by the 'hemgifter' that has already been given.
  [color=0000ff].[/color] 1814 Jacob Carlsson died, and after the estate has been settled, the 'widow declared she did not want any part of what the children received as dowry' [1 son, 2 daughters - all married].
In the 7 other boupptecknings their is no mention of dowries. Can someone tell me about this custom of hemgifter? for both sons and daughters? is it possible/likely that a parents would ask for it back after the death of a spouse?
[color=0000ff]3. Estate left in debt, who pays?[/color]
  [color=0000ff].[/color] In 1843, Christina Arvidsdotter dies leaving behind a husband and 8 children. After the estate inventory, the debts amount to more than 346 rdr, and the assets total about 229 rdr. How will this debt be handled? Is the family forced to sell everything they own to pay only most of the debt? 3 sons are of age, are they obliged to help pay off this debt?
[color=0000ff]4. 2 silver cups[/color]
  [color=0000ff].[/color] All of these estates except one, include '2 silver cups'. This must be some kind of tradition, as these families seem too poor to indulge in a luxury. Can someone tell me about the '2 silver cups'?
[color=0000ff]5. Estate distribution[/color]
  [color=0000ff].[/color] I have 2 questions here. The first is, 3 of the 9 boupptecknings do not indicate how the estate was divided. After the assets have been inventoried and the debts noted, there is clearly still a 'balance' but no mention of how it was divided among children and spouse.  Does anyone know why?
  [color=0000ff].[/color] And my second question is related to the division of an estate between the surviving spouse and the children. Is that still the norm in Sweden? In the US when one spouse dies everything goes to the surviving spouse [unless there is a will with other instructions that pertain to belongings that are solely the property of the deceased]. Children do not 'inherit' until both parents have died.
For any and all answers and comments offered, I am most thankful.

2012-09-15, 07:10
Svar #1

Utloggad Stefan Magnusson

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Kathy, first part of your fifth question: - Today the dividing of the estate is made through an Arvsskifte, not the Bouppteckning. It is not a mandatory part of the Bouppteckning, and as far as I know, that applied back then as well.

2012-09-15, 10:33
Svar #2

Utloggad Chris Bingefors

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Before 1988 a spouse only inherited his/her half of the estate already owned through marital rights, unless there was a prenupital. (Before 1921 the husband had total power of all assets, even the wife´s share).
Children inherited the other half, divided according to law, after 1845 equal shares, before that sons inherited twice as much as daughters in the countryside, in cities they inherited equal shares. In modern times children have to inherit at least 25% of the estate, the rest can be willed away.
In old societies the dividing of assets, usually land, was a complicated matter. The eldest son often had the farm and his siblings were compensated for their shares of the estate value. But that was not always the case, the father could will equal shares or make other arrangements, such as an early take-over with pensions to the parents (undantag). There have been several PhD Theses on the inheritance customs in older days. Tha actual arvsskifte is seldom recorded, but can be studied through deeds, tax valuations and other documents.

2012-09-15, 21:18
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Utloggad Ingela Martenius

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1. Wedding rings.
No, not everybody had a wedding ring; men has never had them in Sweden (until the last decades) and women didn't necessarily have them. Wedding rings could be borrowed, either from the female bride-dressers (they had all sorts of equipment/gear/acccessories for a wedding) or sometimes from the church (that could also lend bridal crowns to virgin brides). However, betrothal rings were not uncommon (it was only after 1734 that church weddings constituted a legally valid marriage).
But generally personal jewelry was just that, personal, and was distributed outside the estate inventory and quite often before the person actually died (remember that the purpose of the estate inventory was to assess the estate for taxes). There is far, far more antique farmers jewelry around than is accounted for in the estate inventories.
2. Dowries
Dowries were very seldom in cash. Daughters spent years and years weaving, sewing, embroidering textiles appropriate for a bride to start a household with. I believe that in America it was referred to as a hope chest; here in Sweden it was a bride chest (brudkista). Sons spent years and years making tools and saving up cash (girls also tried to save up cash of course but had fewer opportunites for getting their hands on it).
When a well-off farmer's daughter in southern Sweden (particularly Skåne) married, her bride chest (it wasn't just a single chest) could easily be worth half the value of the farm itself.
Settling land and money as dowries on marrying children was something only the very rich (mostly noble) families did.
Dowries were actually seen as pre-payment of the inheritance. Large gifts for whatever reasons (e.g. a dowry or an education paid for) was and is part of the estate, and should be taken into account. However, if all the children have received about equal amounts, it's what in Sweden is often called a zero-sum situation, meaning that it all evens out. And yes, if the surviving spouses were left with too little they would ask for the dowries and other gifts to be returned for a new distribution; this was particularly true if the widow didn't get her morning gift (morgongåva), the estate settled on her at her wedding for her upkeep as a widow (in England called her jointure).
Why, as in the case you mention, all the children don't receive equal amounts when you sum up dowry and dividing what was left of the estate, is anybody's guess. You can - and could - divide the estate any way you want to, as long as all heirs are agreed.
3. Estate left in debt, who pays
If the estate was left in debt, there were two options. First, of course, the estate was used to pay the debts as far as possible. After that the estate could be declared bankrupt, and the debt would go away. Or, the heirs paid for the debts. To declare a deceased person's estate bankrupt was very, very shameful for the family and if at all possible the debts would be paid by the family (the heirs).
4. 2 silver cups
There were no savings banks in the old days, and even when they started they were mistrusted, particularly in the countryside.
Cash was no use either, since money was subject to variations and fluctuations we couldn't imagine (even) today. E.g. there were two (even, for a limited time, three) currencies in Sweden for about a century, from the late 18th century - and the exchange rates between them merits a book of its own.
So all savings were put into silver items, like spoons, cups, goblets, candle sticks - and in particular for women, silver jewelry. Silver kept its value, was proof against ifnlation, and could be readily exchanged into cahs - if it wasn't accepted as payment outright. Silver smiths carried two inventories, one following fashion and one which was the same for centuries. This last one was the savings accounts because if you had grandfather's five spoons, father's three spoons and you yourself wanted another spoon, it would look the same as the old ones.
Often (I'd say always) silver items were paid in installments. Since silver and gold smiths acted as informal bankers; they kept the items until they were fully paid.
So a couple of silver cups would be an average family savings - in a particular time and location. Most places spoons were far more popular than cups but perhaps these families had found that cups kept their value better. Or they were just more popular in this location, perhaps for some obscure reason we cannot guess at today.
5. Estate distribution
Estate distribution was uninteresting to the authorities when the estate paid the death duties (a tax that went to the pauper's chest in every parish) unless the balance was too small in which case the tax was forgiven.
So there was no need to put the distribution down in the estate inventory.
In the 19th century this was changed, and the death duties assessed for every heir separately. When this happened the estate distribution is in the estate inventory (or should be); the estate inventory is stamped and the tax amount payable for every heir is written in. The distribution can be on a separate piece of paper but the estate wasn't released until the inventory - with the distribution - was stamped and the tax was paid. The stamped inventory was then shown to banks etc. so that accounts could again be accessed.  
These days there is no death duty in Sweden (the law was changed some five-six years ago), and so the distribution again is of no interest to the authorities.
Distribution between spouse and children:
Except what has been set aside in a pre-nuptial agreement (which in Sweden can be made at any time during the marriage) as personal property, all property the two spouses own are pooled. The pooled property is then divided into two equal shares, one share belonging to each spouse (regardless of who owned what or how much before the marriage or who has earned more or who has bought a particular item etc.). The share - half the total property - is owned outright by the surviving spouse. This half-share is not inheritance since it belongs to each spouse whether living or dead (in a divorce situation e.g.). This has never changed.
Before 1988 the deceased spouse's share was distributed according to a will (rare in Sweden) or equally among the children. Without the children's consent only half of the deceased spouse's share (i.e. 25 % of the total estate) could be willed away from any single child (if there were five children and the deceased parent wanted as much as possible to go to only four of them, the disadvantaged child would receive 5 % of the total estate or 10 % of the deceased parent's share, leaving the four lucky children each with 11.25 % of the total estate or 22.5 % of the deceased parent's share). To protect the surviving spouse he/she was entitled to an amount set every year by the authorities; if the 50 % share didn't come up to this the missing sum was taken out of the deceased spouse's share. Until 1988 the children had the right to claim their inheritance immediately.
In 1988 the law was changed, but not as drastically as most people think. If there is no will, the surviving spouse can use the whole estate but cannot e.g. will it away. The law wanted to address the too common situation where the children forced their aged (and often ailing) mother (father) out of the house they had spent the last 50 or so years in - the home wouldn't have to be sold until both spouses were dead. Of course, this doesn't apply if there are children from a previous marriage, then the remaining spouse has to pay out the inheritance at once.
A note on Chris' post:
Sons didn't inherit twice as much land (it was only land) as daughters everywhere in Sweden. Notable exceptions are Dalarna and parts of Småland.
The eldest son quite often didn't inherit the farm, much to many genealogists' surprise (they often ask, is it just my family that's odd or what?). Since most of the estate quite naturally consisted of the farm and there were no money nor other items to make up sibling's shares, the farm itself was divided. Now, there were laws against how small pieces a farm could be divided into, so the child taking over the farm had to buy his/her siblings out - a process that could take years.
Except for noble families, where the property could be entailed (fideikommiss), male primogeniture really wasn't the absolute norm in Sweden.
Before 1921 husbands managed their wives' estates. They didn't own it and couldn't dispose of it any way they wanted. Mismanaged estates meant the husband could be sued in court (and not only sued, it was also a crime), not unheard of. Before 1858/1863 unmarried women of any age had their estates managed for them, but if the estates were mismanaged the woman could petition the court to declare her legally competent. The number of legally competent women rose dramatically from the late 18th century and was what prompted the law to be changed in 1858/1863 (unmarried women over 25 were legally competent, by application in 1858, automatically in 1863). There was probably less wilful mismanagement when it came to wives' estates since in most cases the husband had to live off the estate too, and leave it to their common children.

2012-09-15, 22:38
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Utloggad Kathryn Stone

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Oh my gosh! Stefan, Chris and Ingela, thank you so much for all the information! The knowledge and generosity of participants in this forum just never ceases to amaze me.  
Ingela, you are [or should be] a national treasure :-)  Thank you for once again sharing with me from your wealth of knowledge  . . .  you know you could probably start start your own Ingela-pedia !
Anyway, to all of I am eternally grateful, tack så mycket,

2012-09-16, 01:41
Svar #5

Utloggad Mary Upgren Strand

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I also want to thank everyone that has contributed to this topic. This has been very informative to me, especially since I have discovered that many of my ancestors have Boupptecknings.  
Ingela: One item that really piqued my interest is your explanation about how all savings were put into silver items. (Item 4 on your explanations)
After reviewing (and struggling) over so many of these Boupptecknings, I would see that items listed under “Silver” would have the term “lod” after it. (For example: Tumlare 8 lod or lilan(??) 32 lod.)  
Is “lod” a weight measurement and then would be used to determine the value? And can I assume then, that all listed under silver, is really the families savings account?  
Thanks again for everyone’s posts. I have printed a copy of them for future reference.

2012-09-16, 11:37
Svar #6

Utloggad Stefan Magnusson

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1 lod = 1/32 skålpund = 13,28 gram, or 0.4684 ounces in US units.
For coinage, 1 lod = 13,16 gram, or 0.4642 ounces.

2012-09-16, 20:58
Svar #7

Utloggad Thomas Vikander

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I vote Ingela be placed on Sweden's Living National Treasure Register.  
Thank you Ingela and everyone who contributed to this treasure of a subject thread on Anbytarforum.

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