Sweden: Districts

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Härad (District)

The district is a civil jurisdiction used for judicial purposes. A district consists of two to twenty parishes. In Swedish it is usually known as a “härad” but in the central and northern half of Sweden, the words tingslag and bergslag may be used and in some coastal areas the word skeppslag may be used. All of these terms are used for the judicial unit (district) where court proceedings took place, death estates were probated, and tax lists were made.

The district was governed by a district circuit judge (häradshövding) . He was a university trained law graduate. He was assisted by a council of twelve local men (nämndeman or tolveman). These men were permanent jurymen. They were reliable men of honor and stability in the community. It was an honor to be a nämndeman and in some cases this position was passed down from father to son for generations.

There are a number of ways to determine which district a parish was part of. Here are some of the ways:

  • A Swedish gazetteer like Rosenberg’s Statistiskt-Geografiskt Handlexikon.
  • The Family Search Wiki Parish List. See Parish List
  • The Family History Library Catalog at www.familysearch.org (Do a place search for name of your parish. Get the Church Records for that parish. In the notes for the parish will be the judicial district.