More on My Family History: The Cheaters, Lovers, and Jerks

If you remember, a few weeks back I told you about a book I found called “Pioneer Memoirs” — a home-published item made by some of my relatives on my dad’s side. I’ve been having fun looking through it and I’ll probably be sharing a few things with you as the mood strikes me. (Consider yourself warned.)

Pioneer Memories

In the back of the book is a “pedigree chart” that ends with the birth of my grandmother, whom I was named after. So that’s cool.  (I’m feeling a little like a show dog at the moment, what with my pedigree and all.)

Included with the “pedigree” are some short bios for the earliest ancestors, at least the ones they could find something about. The farthest back they were able to trace the family is listed as Generation I. It’s a guy known only by the name Anders, as his son was named Jakob Andersen (Andersen: son of Anders) and since the son lived during the early 1500s, they’re guessing Anders lived in the late 1400s.

Personally I think this is cheating a bit, genealogy-wise, but whatever.

Okay, so in Generation II, that’s where we meet Jakob Andersen. Old Jake was the minister of the Fyrisdal parish in Telemark County in southern Norway in the years 1532 to 1557. Interesting detail: in 1532 he was a Catholic priest. According to the records of the Fyrisdal church, Jake was “the last Catholic priest and the first Lutheran minister in Fyrisdal.”

He switched over to Lutheranism in 1537, got married, had a baby, and yada-yada-yada, here I am. Lovely how that turns out, don’t you think?

Anyway, this family history doesn’t really get smoking until Generation III. That’s where we meet Jakob Hansen Morland, born in 1619. According to the bio, he served as a parish pastor from 1653 to 1672, then as a parish pastor and dean from 1683 to 1697.

Notice the break from 1672 to 1683? The break in his ministry, we are told, was due to his “suspension from clerical duties because of a violation of church regulations, involving marital irregularities.”

Now what do you suppose is meant by “marital irregularities”?

According to the bio, he was married twice. His first wife died, they think in 1670, but no date is given for his second marriage. Was remarriage considered an “irregularity” in the late 1600s, or was something else afoot?

Interesting. Highly interesting.

Reading on, we learn the names of Jakob Morland’s children: Sivert, Hans, Susanne, Barbara, and Alhed. We get an extra tidbit on Alhed. It tells us, “she married out of her class, her husband, Jon Norby, being a peasant in Nissedal.”

You know what this means, don’t you? Alhed married for love!

I can see it now: Alhed, youngest daughter of the wealthy parish minister, is walking to the village of Nissedal. She crosses the lane and there by the mill is the young peasant boy with piercing blue eyes, Jon Norby.  💕

We learn nothing more about Alhed, though I want to believe they were a happy couple. Do you suppose her father approved? Somehow I have my doubts.

The bio continues:

“After having lived in retirement at Utabjaa in the Børte district, Morland became pastor of the Vinje parish in 1676 by royal appointment, but his peasant parishioners refused to accept him and locked the church door.”


Picture this: the proud minister arrives in town on a snowy Sunday morn, wearing his splendid robe. His wife by his side, they walk through the quiet village and approach the church. He has no suspicion anything is amiss. He takes hold of the large church door and pulls. It won’t budge — it’s bolted from inside! Are those voices he hears? He pounds on the door… What’s that they’re chanting?

Morland no more, Morland no more!
(in Norwegian)

Oh, the impertinence!

What do you think their main gripe was? Did they get wind of his “marital irregularities? Did they hear how angry he got over his daughter’s marriage to their good man, Jon Norby?

Or maybe it was the fact they had no choice in who their pastor was, and these peasants were tired of being pushed around!

Power to the peasants!

Sadly, this mini-peasant revolt was short-lived:

“However, after the authorities had imposed fines on them for their temerity, Morland was installed in his pastorate, and in 1683 he was promoted to the office of dean.”

Well, dang! First the peasants aren’t allowed to choose their own pastor, then they get fined for trying to take a stand.

“Of Morland it is said that he was thrifty, aggressive and strong-minded, so that at his death left several farms in both Upper and Lower Telemark.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally siding with the peasants on this one. My great-great-great-etc.-grandfather sounds like a real jerk.

But that Jon Norby sounds like a hunk. 😍

31 thoughts on “More on My Family History: The Cheaters, Lovers, and Jerks

    1. What can I say? I like swarthy men. 😉
      When I read that bit about Morland being locked out of church I burst out laughing. You don’t expect something like that in a genealogy report, but then this is my family, so…

  1. The Heroes of Telemark is one of my favourite films -more due to the hunks than the storyline I recall of my teenaged self when I first watched it on TV on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Of course this is not directly connected to your genealogy but,you know – I’m willing to be a little starry eyed just because you trace to this place called Telemark. And also because I can’t resist the marital irregularities – who could?

    1. Gasp! How did I miss that movie? Must hunt it down pronto!
      Such a weighted phrase, ‘marital irregularities’ – can cover a wide range of sins. It’s to our misfortune that it fell out of use, don’t you think? 😉

      1. I’m happy to lead the charge in resurrecting it. I’m thinking of doing a series of words of the day that have fallen into disuse – it could expand to such marvellosly evocative and possibly shameful phrases too. I am, by the way, entirely serious for once 🙂💕

  2. I must admit that I am insanely jealous of the fact that you can trace your family back to the 1400s. The furthest back I can go with mine is the late 1800s, with the vague image of a contingent of my Italian ancestors hopping on a boat and eventually landing in Chicago. What happened prior to the boat-hopping is dust in the wind, as apparently no one on my father’s side had the least bit of interest in proper footnoting of their adventures. As for my biological mother’s side of things, that’s a much more abbreviated moot point as well, since she was adopted and any paperwork concerning the matter never reached my hands. (Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m “technically” adopted as well, since Bio Mom fled the scene when I was a wee bairn and my ownership was eventually transferred to Dad’s second wife, the one I actually consider “Mom”. Long story.)

    And now I’m not sure what my point with this comment might have been. As usual, I’ve made it all about me instead of your charming post. Mea culpa. Say, do you happen to know anything about a boatload of Italians fleeing their home country for some undisclosed reason? Perhaps some marital irregularity? Text me.

    1. I hope this doesn’t sound callous because I honestly don’t mean it as such, but yours sounds like the kind of story I ached to be a part of because my Brady Bunch-ish upbringing didn’t provide enough angst for a writer’s soul. You’ll notice that I had to go back several centuries in order to find some hint of scandal, yes? (Although I will confess there was a later scandal, something mid-20th century, of a rather big nature. You’ll hear more about that in… let’s see… two weeks. So hold on to your hat.)
      As for your boat hopping Italian family, I’m certain there was a good reason, perhaps an irregularity or two? Keep a good thought. 😉

  3. Nice that this can bring alive some insight into your ancestors. Sadly I have enough trouble remembering my children and my life, so although my mother does lots of genealogy, it’s just not my thing. I do know we have a few naughty ones in our line though (even my paternal grandmother took to “marital irregularities” as the family history goes. 🙂

    1. I’ve never been much into genealogy, to tell the truth, but then I never knew it could uncover love stories and scandal either. I thought it was just a bunch of ‘begats’ and so forth.
      Isn’t it interesting how it’s the people with the “irregularities” who provide the colorful stories? I think there’s something to be learned from that.

  4. My Mom’s side of the family were also Scandinavian (Swedes), and that whole “Johns son” and “Anders dotter” thing throws quite the wrench into trying to track lineage. It’s bad enough that surnames changed every generation, but add to that a fairly limited set of first names and before you know it half the country only has a dozen names! Kind of tough to verify anything with all that ambiguity going around.

    1. No kidding! Included in this book was a sort of graph of the cemetery showing family plots. I think there were three with the same name, but of course no Junior or II, or anything else to distinguish them except the dates. Yeesh! 🙄

    1. I should clarify, Jon Norby isn’t the jerk I’m referring too. Maybe that’s why the daughter ran off, because her dad was a jerk and she met a hunk.

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