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Sporteln (legal fees)

Sporteln from the Latin: sportula, means present. Originally, Sporteln were given by the population as renumeration for legal or other administrative work, such as drawing up of decisions, confirmations, dispensations etc. Officials were compensated for their work in kind. Sporteln were not based on laws and therefore were subject to individual preferences. This type of salary was based on the idea that the administration and henceforth the population of the area over which the official presided were the responsible salary payers. Sporteln became much a matter of disputation.

Officials depended on their fees for their livelihood and since their doings were not regulated by laws, many official acts were drawn out demanding more money. This in turn turned off those who could not afford or would not hear of paying “exuberant” fees. However, things were not that easy. Those who supported Sporteln mainly argued that the absence of this type of fee would put a burden on most taxpayers in order to support the officials who would draw a salary instead. If Sporteln were done away with, legal actions and processes would become subject to protraction. However one saw the problem, the consensus was that Sporteln themselves were not the problem but the dragging along of cases and the chicanery used to do so in order to up the fees. Such exploitation had to be stopped.

Source: Wikipedia, Krünitz online

There exists a Sporteln book for Amt Damme 1822 – found in the State Archive of Oldenburg 309 Nr. 85 which features names from all walks of life, journeymen, farmers, day laborers etc. The payee’s residence is given.


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