Sweden Birth and Christening Records
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The church law of 1686 stated that the parish priest should keep record for “All children legitimate as well as illegitimate with their parents and godparents names (and the) birth and christening date.” The earliest examples of birth and christening records were usually mixed with the engagements and marriages and the death and burials. They were organized chronologically according to the date of birth or christening. The birth and christening records were kept sporadically from the middle of the 1600’s up to about 1688. It is not uncommon in the earlier records to have the birth date missing, or even the name of the mother. This depended upon the record keeping practices of the parish priest.
By law the little child should be christened within 8 days. Otherwise the parents became burdened by duty to see that it was done. There was good cause for the parents to be anxious for the child’s christening to be as soon as possible. It was both risky and troublesome to have an unchristened child at home. In the event that there was a complication with the birth and the child’s survival was in question, then an “emergency baptism” (nöddop) could be performed by the midwife, father, or any member of the household who had passed confirmation.
Witnesses to the christening were often relatives. They can be good leads to following the family if you are unsure where one of the parents is from. If family was not readily available the parents might ask a good friend or neighbor to be the godparent.
In a Swedish record of birth / christening, the researcher can expect to find:
• The given name(s) of the child.
• The name of the father and mother (depending on the record keeping of the parish priest).
• The date of the birth and christening (depending on the record keeping of the parish priest).
• The name of the parents place of residence
• The names of the witnesses (godparents) who were invited to attend the christening (often relatives of the father or mother).
• An interval between births of more than 4 years can indicate a missing child
• The woman holding the baby at christening is often a close relative or friend of the mother
• An illegitimate child is indicated with the word, “oäkta”
• Sometimes you will find mistakes in the record. Use logic and reasoning when you come across inconsistencies.
- “Alle barns så ächtas som oächtas med dheras föräldrars och faddrars namn födelse och döpelse dag...”: Clemensson, Per and Andersson, Kjell. Släktforska steg för steg. Falköping, Natur och Kultur/Fakta, 2005
Swedish Wikipedia at: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dopbok
Släktforskning.. vägen till din egen historia, Elisabeth Thorsell and Ulf Schenkmanis, ICA Förelaget AB 1993