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When a man entered into military service in Sweden, it was often the case that he would acquire a new surname. This practice was necessary to avoid the confusion of having multiple soldiers with the same given and patronymic surnames. For example, how would 5 men all named Olof OLofsson know when their name was called? To avoid this confusion new soldiers were assigned a new surname. These surnames often were references to aspects of military life, such as Modig (courageous), Tapper (brave), Frimodig (fearless, frank), and Stark (strong). Sometimes, references were made to weaponry. Examples of this practice are Svärd (sword), Skjöld (shield), Spjut (spear), and Lans (lance).
Certain military surnames were assigned to the soldier residence found in nearly every parish. As the new recruit took over for his predecessor, the recruit often assumed the surname assigned to that particular soldier residence. You cannot assume that there is a relationship between two men who share the same soldier surname. Rarely, is there a family connection between two soldiers with similar surnames.
Soldier surnames can indicate a reference to the locale from where a soldier may have come. For example, the surname Ekberg may indicate that the soldier is from a place called “Ekeby”.
Children of a soldier father had the option of taking their father’s military surname as their personal surname or instead, may have decided to take their correct patronymical surname, based upon their father’s given name. For example, the children of soldier Anders Ljungström may have used either the Ljungström surname or chosen instead to be known as Andersson orAndersdotter.
Here are some examples of common Swedish soldier surnames:
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