Depending upon the time period and the commonness of your ancestor's first and patronymic surname, Swedish tax lists or Mantalslängder can be used to prove continued residency, separate men of the same name, prove relationships, fill in for burned or missing church records, and extend a pedigree beyond the beginning of parish registers.
Some Swedish tax lists begin as early as 1620. Other's don't begin until the mid 1650s. They are arranged by Härad within the county. Each parish is then listed within the pages the härad covers in that year's list. The parishes are not necessarily in alphabetical order, but as the record keeper took them, or rather copied them into the official book. There may be a page at the beginning of that year's tax list showing which page each härad and/or each parish begins on. To find the FHL film number for each year's list, go to www.familysearch.org >name of county>taxation.
On the first page for the subject heading of taxation for each county, the FHLCatalog lists the names of all the härrader which belong to that county, then the parishes which belong to that härad.
Then comes the listing for the tax years. For each year, a film number is given, then, in parantheses, the page number on which that härad's tax lists begin for that year.
(INSERT COPY OF CATALOG ENTRY)
If nothing has given the page number within the härad where your parish begins, then just look veyr carefully at each side of the page until you find it. A new parish listing could begin at the top, middle, or bottom of a page. Once you locate your parish, note the names of the parish immediately before it, and immediately after it. That is because the parishes were generally located in the same order each year - so you can more easily find it after the initial search.
The farms each parish are then listed in the order the record keeper visited them, not necessarily alphabetical order. The information given varied somewhat from time period to time period and area to area, but, the following pieces of information are generally found in all the lists, going across in columns. The first page of the härad must often be referred to to make sure you know what is being asked for or marked in each column. In early time periods, only the name of the person responsible for the tax was recorded. All other pieces of informatin were recorded via slash marks or numbers in the respective columns going across the page, as below: (INSERT TAX LIST HEADING):
1) The name of the farm or village area
2) The name of the person responsible for the tax for that piece of land
3) A slash mark indicating that person's wife was alive and of taxable age
4) A slash mark or number indicating how many sons of taxable age were residing there that year
5) A slash mark or number indicatiing how many daughters of taxable age were residing there that year
6) A slash mark or number indicating how many dränger (male farm laborers) the tax payer was responsible for
7) A slash mark or number indicating how many pigör (female farm laborers) the tax payer was responsible for
8) A slash mark or number indicating the number of renters, lodgers, or charitable cases the tax payer was resonsible for
9) Summation column
The items above representthe major columns used in the tax lists from 1620-1860. Columns for sons-in law, parents, sisters, and miscellaneous other items may also have been added to the tax lists in some areas of the country for some time periods. Some areas and time periods may also break the columns down into various age groupings, or add other columns for the government's desired purposes.
There is also generally a "remarks" column. This could contain anything from the notation that a person was "sickly" or had a broken leg, and was therefore not taxable that year, to the notation that "Per Larsson's old father Lars Anderson from XYZ parish has come to live with him," to the notation that "Måns Arntsson of XYZ parish married Sissa Andersdotter and moved onto her farm."
Because these notations are not carried over from year to year, it is advised, once you begin a tax list or equivalent search, to read every available year's list for a wide time period.
As you come forward in time, in addition to the name of the person responsible for the tax, the first and sometimes patronymic surnames of the male and female farm laborers in the household begin to be listed. Then, the first names of the sons and daughters of the taxpayer began to be listed. Finally, name of the taxpayer's wife began to appear. Sometimes not until the mid 1800s would there be anything other than "h" for Hustru (wife) listed for her.
In early times, if a widow was the person responsible for the tax, her first name might have been listed, or, the notation Encka (widow) might just have been given.