|Home||Histories||Reports||Photos||Graves||Obits||My Family Tree on RootsWeb||More|
In 1620, as the Danish era was nearing its end on the Baltic island of Gotland, Pehr Bengtsson Norby was installed as the vicar (or priest) of Rone and Eke, in southern Gotland.2/ The island of Gotland lies 50-60 miles off the east coast of Sweden and about 80 miles from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to its east. Situated as it is, Gotland provided an important strategic commercial center for the Danes, Germans and various city states, as well as a base for piracy and the launching of military excursions against Sweden and anyone else that moved on the Baltic Sea. Until 1645, for over 300 years Gotland and what is now southern Sweden were a part of, or ruled by, Denmark.
From 1517 to 1525, Sören Severin Andersen Norby was the Danish governor or "Länsherrar" on Gotland, appointed by King Christian II. As such, he had autocratic control over the island and it affairs. His power and authority was such that coins were minted bearing his name, and King Christian went so far as to declare that whatever Sören Norby did would be done by his [the King's] authority.3/ Sören Norby was also the ranking Admiral in King Christian's Danish navy and reputedly a notorious sea pirate. The accusation that Norby was a “pirate” is discussed later in this note and appears to be somewhat of an exaggeration. So far as is known he was never married - but it is generally believed he was the father of several children.4/
Sören Norby did much to engender the hatred of the Swedes. The apex of this hatred was probably reached in 1520 when he participated in the siege of Stockholm Castle leading to the Danish execution of approximately 90 Swedish clerics, noblemen, burghers and others. This barbaric event is remembered today as the "Stockholm Bloodbath." The "Bloodbath" atrocities (i.e., hangings and beheadings) followed ecclesiastical “trials” for heresy. These "trials" were instigated by the clergy and acquiesced to by King Christian II.5/
On November 4, 1520, after his coronation as King of Sweden, King Christian II bestowed knighthood upon Sören Norby and Bernt von Mehlen.6/ After being given the honor of bearing the King's coronation scepter, Norby was given the ignominious responsibility of taking custody of those who had been designated to stand “trial” for heresy. However, there is nothing to suggest that he ordered or directly participated in the atrocities that followed on November 7-8, 1520. Indeed, he is reported to have saved some Swedish noblemen from the executioner by providing them with refuge on his ships.7/ Nevertheless, Norby's reputation was indelibly stained by his service to Christian II, a King upon whom history bestowed the ignoble sub-title of, "The Tyrant."
In the months preceding the "Bloodbath," Admiral Sören Norby was one of three military leaders responsible for establishing the Danish presence in Stockholm and in forcing the surrender of Stockholm Castle by Kristina Gyllenstierna, the young widow of Sten Sture. Sture, who had been killed by the Danes earlier in the campaign, had been the administrator, or regent of Sweden. Following the "Bloodbath," the Danish hatred was so intense that the bodies of Sten Sture and his young son were taken from their graves and burned with the others in a heretics' pyre.8/
In August 1521, Kristina Gyllenstierna was transported by the Danes to Denmark 9/ where she was held until January, 1524. 10/ While held in Denmark Kristina was visited by Sören Norby and a romantic relationship, or a relationship of political expediency, may have evolved.11/ When released from her enforced stay in Denmark, she proceeded to call on Bernt von Mehlen in Kalmar 12/ and Sören Norby in Gotland,13/ or more probably at Sölvesborg Castle in Blekinge,14/ ostensibly to seek the aid of Sören Norby in gaining the Swedish throne for her son, Nils Stensson Sture.15/ If true, the fact that Kristina Gyllenstierna would presume to call on her Danish captor for such assistance tends to corroborate reports of some kind of close relationship between them.
The ancestry of
Pehr Bengtsson Norby can be
established to a
reasonable certainty, but not to an absolute certainty. Absent
genealogy researchers do not expect paternal ancestry to be established
absolute certainty. It follows that the degree of certainty necessary
establish ancestry is best left to the individual researcher. However,
tenuous the evidence supporting a pedigree, the more essential it is
evidence be fully stated. Disclosure provides those who might rely on
pedigree a basis for accepting or rejecting its conclusions.
writer here attempts to marshal the facts and circumstances which
conclusion that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was in fact descended from Sören
Conclusions to the contrary have been well-stated by others,
Sundberg in "Sören Norrby - Anfadern."22/
The Baron von Lingen pedigree submission is central to the writer's conclusion that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was descended from Sören Norby. In about 1663, Christina Norby (b. abt 1634, d. 1673), daughter of Pehr Bengtsson Norby, married Johan Classon von Lingen.23/ According to noted Swedish genealogist Holger Rosman, their grandson, Baron Reinhold Johan von Lingen (b. 1708, d. 1785) stated in pedigree material dated in 1764 and submitted to The House of the Nobility (i.e., Riddarhuset), that his grandmother, Christina Norby, was a descendant of "Sever. Norrby."24/ Tommy Sundberg takes a skeptical view of the evidence (or lack thereof) supporting the von Lingen pedigree representation. However, he dutifully notes that:
"[a] check of von Lingen's genealogy, dated in 1764 in Kristianstad and signed by Reinhold Johan von Lingen, shows that Rosman's information is correct. In this genealogy it was noted that Johan Classon von Lingen was 'married in Visby to Christina Norrby of the Sever. Norrby's family . . .' '' (Tommy Sundberg : Sören Norrby - Anfadern, Gotländska studier 2 utgiven av St. Knuts Gille i Visby 1973, s.47-58 at 56.)
It should be made clear that Sundberg does not accept the ancestry assertion of Baron von Lingen, rather he states that he too has checked the von Lingen genealogy information submitted to The House of The Nobility and that Holger Rosman correctly states its content. Sundberg goes on to reject the Pehr Bengtsson Norby ancestry because, in his opinion, it is based on legend or tradition unsupported by proof, and because he believes it is contrary to several historical points.
It is respectfully submitted that Sundberg mistakenly characterizes the oral family history incorporated in the von Lingen pedigree as "legend." This erroneous characterization creates a faulty premise for dismissing von Lingen's record of oral family history by treating it as mere "legend." This may result from Sundberg's blending the much later Bernt - Bengt "legend" (discussed infra.) with the oral family history incorporated in the von Lingen pedigree. It seems to this writer that discussion must be had regarding some of the important differences between "legend" and "oral family history.
In the context of genealogy, uncorroborated "legend" is unreliable and unacceptable as proof of ancestry. The originator and subsequent contributors to a legend are almost always unknown. The core of a legend may or may not be based on a documented historical event. As the core element is repeated by numerous unidentified story tellers, there is a natural evolution of the legend. This evolution or "gloss" can be attributed to the way people remember and repeat what they hear and read, and to the natural inclination to make a good story better. There is usually no reason for those who repeat the legend to remain faithful to the original version. Indeed, they may have no idea what the original version was.
In contrast, oral family history usually originates within the family. The core element, e.g., "Christina Norby is a descendant of Soren Norby," is likely to remain the same as it is passed from generation to generation. Unlike legend, there is usually no reason for those within the family generational chain to alter the message being passed from one generation to the next. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, or evidence of a motive to fabricate, oral family history is reliable evidence of ancestry.
The simple, unadorned statement in the von Lingen pedigree that his grandfather, "Johan Classon von Lingen was 'married in Visby to Christina Norrby of the Sever. Norrbys family . . .' '' does not have the characteristics of legend. Reinhold Johan von Lingen, the person recording the oral family history, was uniquely situated within the family generational chain. The core assertion is devoid of detail or "gloss" usually found in legend and omits some of the connecting generations. Oral family history identifying ancestors over five or six generations will almost always contain gaps. If an oral family history over four or five generations is too detailed, it should be viewed with suspicion. Authentic oral family histories are usually complete only insofar as they recount the most recent ancestors within the memory of the family, plus older ancestors who may have gained fame or notoriety. Sören Norby would fall in the latter category. There may be some within a family who, for outrageous reasons, will falsely claim to be descended from the rich or famous. For this reason, care must be taken when relying on oral family history. Fabrication and motive to fabricate are discussed later.
The three generation gap in the von Lingen pedigree is bridged with the over-arching representation that Christina Norrby was of the "Sever. Norrby" family. It is likely that the connecting generations were never known to Baron von Lingen; or, they were known and then forgotten with the passage of time. This is the nature of oral family history - unlike legend; the gaps are not filled so that an interesting story can be told. So, the three generation gap or imperfection in a five generation segment of the pedigree helps to identify von Lingen's source as oral family history, as opposed to mere legend.
And finally, a legend which simply says that Christina Norby was a descendant of Sören Norby would not survive very long. This statement does not convey a very exciting story and is certainly not the kind of material which would bear repetition as a legend. In short, the von Lingen statement of his family history does not look or sound like legend. The fact that it was incorporated into the so-called Bernt - Bengt legend 50 to 100 years later does not convert it from oral family history to mere legend.
In summary, Baron von Lingen was a sophisticated and presumably well educated person who would have readily recognized the difference between romanticized legend and oral family history. He was in the family generational chain and was in a position to weigh and determine the credibility of his family source. He obviously determined that the information he received was reliable and that it was worthy of inclusion in his pedigree submission to The House of The Nobility. The von Lingen submission has none of the hallmarks of "legend," and all the hallmarks of oral family history handed down from generation to generation. For this and other reasons discussed below, including a myriad of consistent circumstances, it is highly unlikely that the von Lingen pedigree submission was based on mere "legend" or on fabricated oral family history. Therefore, the von Lingen submission is treated in this note as a record of reliable "oral family history" and not as mere "legend."
Even though oral family history is inherently more reliable than "legend," when relying on oral family history it is prudent to look for evidence of fabrication or for a motive to fabricate. Even if fabrication is not indicated, a clear motive to fabricate weakens the credibility of oral family history.
Tommy Sundberg, in presenting his case against Pehr Bengtsson Norby being a descendant of Sören Norby, writes that there are many family traditions (stories?) in which people report that they are descended from a King and a maid.25/ Sundberg is quite correct, there are individuals who want to be descended from royalty or from otherwise famous or notorious individuals. In such instances, fantasy sometimes overwhelms reality and a false pedigree or false oral family history is created. However, Sören Norby was no fairy tale "King," and when viewed in the context of the times (discussed infra), it is highly doubtful that anyone not truly descended from Sören Norby would seek to falsely insinuate themselves into his bloodline.
Since the Baron von Lingen pedigree is likely to have been the first recordation of the Norby oral family history on Gotland, it is necessary to look for indications that von Lingen or preceding generations fabricated the pedigree connecting Christina Norby (and by implication, Pehr Bengtsson Norby) to Sören Norby. Even if there is no evidence of fabrication, if the events being recorded in the oral family history lend themselves to being attacked as fabrications, the cautious researcher will examine the facts and circumstances to ascertain whether there might have been a plausible motive to fabricate.
It could be argued that von Lingen had an incentive to fabricate in that he was petitioning for friherre status (i.e., to become a baron). In the 1760’s one of the primary benefits of this status was freedom from the payment of taxes. Because of these benefits, pedigrees submitted in support of friherre status are thought by some to be unreliable (i.e., fabrications) and worthless as evidence of pedigree. If accepted, such a rationale would create a presumption of falsity as to all such documents. This is something akin to being presumed guilty until proven innocent. Because of the heavy reliance placed on the von Lingen pedigree submission, the fidelity of the submission and the question of von Lingen’s motive are addressed below.
As a generality, it is conceded that the benefits of friherre status in 1764 might have provided a person of weak character with an incentive to falsify a petition for the status. However, and more specifically, the relevant inquiry must be, did the benefits of friherre status induce von Lingen to file a false application for monetary gain? Is there anything in the historical record of von Lingen’s background which suggests he was dishonest or weak in character? The strength of von Lingen’s character is relevant to the issue of whether he would knowingly and purposefully file a false and fraudulent application in order to become a baron and thereby gain a monetary benefit in the form being exempt from taxes. False statements made with the intent to obtain or retain money that a person knows he/she is not otherwise entitled to obtain or retain involves moral turpitude and may even constitute a crime.
Von Lingen was about 56 years old when he submitted his baronic application. Thus, he was certainly a mature individual and presumably had the good judgment that might be expected of a mature adult with his attainments. Von Lingen’s maturity and strength of character is evidenced by his reputation and accomplishments. He had been ennobled in 1743 at the age of 35. He was a Lieutenant General in the Swedish military and the county governor of (and commander over) Kristianstad. Some of Von Lingen’s accomplishments, including his rise through the military ranks, are outlined below (untranslated Swedish):
*Företog 1725-04-01 en sjöresa på ett handelsfartyg från Göteborg, vilket skulle gå till Bordeaux, men blev väderdrivet till Havre de Grace, där han av en sergeant med list och våld prejades till soldat vid översten mylord de Claires irländska regemente i Frankrike.
*Gemen vid överste Lencks regemente i fransk tjänst 1727-01-01.
*Kornetts fullm. i Sverige 1730-04-27.
*Premiärlöjtnant vid Weimarska regementet till fot i Sachsen s. å. 10/8.
*Kapten därst. 1735-04-14.
vid Wiborgska eller l. Moskowska regementet i
*Premiärmajor därst. s. å. 5/9.
*Överstelöjtnant vid Kievska regementet 1739-06-01.
*Överstelöjtnant i svensk tjänst 1742-03-29.
*Marskalk på svenska ambassaden till fredskongressen i Åbo s. å.
*Adlad 1743-09-11 (introd. s. å. under nr 1875).
*Överste i hessisk tjänst 1743-09-30.
*Överstelöjtnant vid Västgötadals regemente 1744-04-25.
*Överste för Älvsborgs regemente 1751-07-19. Generalmajor 1757-05-26.
*KSO 1759-09-26 (26/11).
*Landshövding och överkommendant i Kristianstad 1763-08-15.
*Friherre 1764-02-04. (Introd. 1783 under nr 305).
*Landshövding i Malmöhus län
1772-08-03. Avsked s. å. 17/8.
[Source: Document provided by Riddarhuset, Stockholm, Sweden (2006), headed “Adliga och friherrliga ättern VON LINGEN, nr 1875, utdöd, och 305, utdöd,” with sub-heading, “Adlad 1743-09-11 introd. s. å Friherrlig 1764-02-04, introd. 1783. Utdöd 1867-06-30.”]
The above extracts from the historical record provide strong evidence that Baron Reinhold Johan von Lingen was a man of high character, achievement, and distinction. As such he had no need to rely on a spurious pedigree to support his application for friherre status. Thus, there is no basis to suppose that he had a motive to falsify his pedigree. Moreover, based on von Lingen’s personal record, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it cannot simply be presumed that he lied about his ancestry by submitting a false and fraudulent pedigree.
The general wisdom voiced by some that petitions in support of friherre status were usually false constitutes a bald assertion devoid of evidentiary value and is nothing more than an assumption or speculation. Such an assumption of falsity (i.e., fraud) is utterly lacking as proof. Indeed, in the absence of probative evidence to the contrary, it is presumed that a person has not engaged in criminal wrongdoing or conduct involving moral turpitude. Thus, the correct presumption is that von Lingen did not submit a false pedigree in support of his application for friherre status. Moreover, the presumed regularity of von Lingen’s pedigree is corroborated by the historical record outlined above, and by circumstantial evidence supporting his descendancy from Sören Norby, discussed later in this note.
The friherre status issue discussed above is personal to von Lingen and does not speak to possible motives that von Lingen’s Gotland ancestors might have had to fabricate a blood relationship to Sören Norby.
In considering possible motives to fabricate an ancestry from a national or international historical figure such as Sören Norby, it is important to assess the national and community attitudes held toward that figure at various times prior to the first recordation of the oral family history. These attitudes may in turn influence the attitudes of those in the community who might seek to falsely create a relationship to the historical figure in question. Thus, the objective here is to determine whether the community attitudes were such that Gotlanders, including von Lingen’s Norby ancestors, might have created false pedigrees descending themselves from Sören Norby. The analysis of Gotland attitudes is made more complicated by virtue of the fact that the period separating Sören Norby and Baron von Lingen is split between two different eras, each with a different nationalistic perspective. By virtue of the treaty of Brömsebro (August 13, 1645), the Danish era on Gotland came to an end and the Swedish era was born. Pehr Bengtsson Norby was born in about 1590 and died in about 1654, thus his life straddled the change of eras. First to be considered will be the Swedish era, which encompassed part of the lives of Pehr Bengtsson Norby and his daughter, Christina Norby, and the entirety of the lives of their descendants up to and including Baron von Lingen.
Preliminarily it is noted that Denmark had taken Gotland from the Swedes in the 1300s and it was not until 1645 that the Swedes were able to get it back. It can be safely said that after 300 years of bloodshed, occasioned by incessant military engagements and atrocities on both sides, the Swedes held considerable animosity toward the Danes, and vice versa.
In the early stages of the Swedish era, which began in 1645, Admiral Sören Norby was considered a notorious Danish buccaneer. But even more damming was his involvement with Christian II ("The Tyrant") in one of the most treacherous and heinous atrocities in Swedish history. As stated previously, although there is no evidence that Sören Norby was directly involved in carrying out the atrocities of November 7-8, 1520 (i.e., "Stockholm Bloodbath"), he is reported to have participated in the process of gathering up the Swedes who were designated to stand trial for heresy in an ecclesiastical court. Moreover, Norby was very much involved in the Danish military campaign leading up to the fall of Stockholm Castle and the coronation ceremonies which followed. English language history books describe this period of Danish excesses in condemnatory tones and take note of the lingering effect of the excesses into modern times.27/
It is in the above context that we consider whether Baron von Lingen and his Swedish era ancestors, back to and including Pehr Bengtsson Norby, had a motive to falsely claim descendancy from Admiral Sören Norby. Light is shed on the Norby family's attitude toward Sören Norby by virtue of objective manifestations bearing on how they felt about the name "Norby." Thus, in determining the attitude of the Norby family members toward their name, we must look to their actions. During the first 100 years of the Swedish era, the only conduct which arguably reflects their attitude, and inferentially the attitude of the community, is the fact that two of Pehr Bengtsson Norby’s descendants went so far as to shed public vestiges of the Norby name. Thomas Pehrsson Norby (b. abt 1626, d. abt 1673), priest at Rone and Eke and the oldest son of Pehr Bengtsson Norby, discarded the Norby name for that of "Ronander." Thomas Pehrsson (Norby) Ronander lived in a time frame only one or two generations earlier than Baron von Lingen, who was born in 1708 and died in 1785. As early as 1732, still another Norby priest abandoned the Norby name for that of "Gardell." At least one prominent Swedish genealogist and family historian from the 1800s states that Thomas Pehrsson Ronander abandoned the Norby name to escape the disgrace of being descended from Sweden's old enemy.28/
Since common sense suggests that a person does not generally abandon a family name he/she is proud of, it is inferred that those who abandon a family name generally do so because they are not proud of it.
If some of Pehr Bengtsson Norby’s descendants were not proud of the Norby name and abandoned it to escape the disgrace of being associated with the name, why didn’t other Norby descendants also abandon the name? It is difficult to divine why two Norby priests abandoned the name and others did not. Perhaps those who abandoned the family name did not want their children to have to live with the name. Perhaps abandonment was necessary in order to ease the path up the clerical ladder. It may be significant that Nils Gardell (b. 1736, d. 1813), son of Lars Gardell, grandson of Hans Norby, great grandson of Bertel Persson Norby, and great-great grandson of Pehr Bengtsson Norby, became the Bishop of Gotland. The church account books for Garde and Etelhem parishes indicate that Lars Gardell took the name of “Gardell” as early as 1731.
It is obvious that the two Norby clerics who abandoned their family name were intent on initiating a new family name for themselves and for their children. Since a person does not abandon a family name they are proud of, it is reasonable to conclude that the Norby clerics (i.e., Ronander and Gardell) were not proud of the name; and/or, they feared that the name might serve to remind Swedish government and church officials of their (and their childrens’) blood relationship to Sweden’s old Danish enemy, Sören Norby. If there are other more likely reasons, they are not readily apparent.
Swedish era fact and circumstances support the conclusion that Pehr Bengtsson Norby and his Swedish era (post-1645) descendants did not have a motive to fabricate an ancestral relationship to Sören Norby. If they had a motive at all, it was to obscure or to down-play that relationship. This was done, in part, by abandoning the name. The motive to hide or obscure descendancy from Sören Norby may explain why researchers, past and present, have found it extremely difficult to trace the ancestry of Pehr Bengtsson Norby.
To better understand the Danish political climate and concomitant attitudes, it is important to understand that Sören Norby's ambitions and reputation were inextricably tied to Christian II (The Tyrant). At the outset, note is taken of the "Stockholm Bloodbath" (occurring in 1520) and the effect it must have had on the reputations of King Christian II and his Admiral, Sören Norby. As heinous as it was, the "Stockholm Bloodbath," which followed perfunctory heresy trials, probably did not create the same reaction in Denmark as it did in Sweden; however, it is the kind of event which forever hovers over the historical lives of those who participated in the event, or in the military activities which enabled the event. Historical accounts of the event report that Sören Norby was in disagreement with what took place and that he saved the lives of some Swedish noblemen by providing them refuge on his ships.29/ Rightly or wrongly, Norby was tarnished by the dreadful Danish atrocities which took place in Stockholm on November 7-8, 1520.
Aside from the Danish excesses in Stockholm, the decline of Sören Norby's fortunes accelerated when, in 1523, King Christian II went into exile in the Netherlands and was replaced as King of Denmark by his uncle, King Frederik I. Sören Norby spent the next 3 years of his life, from about 1523 to 1526, taking the battle to King Gustav Vasa of Sweden and to the King's Hanseatic financiers and mercenaries in a valiant but vain effort to undermine King Frederik I and to regain the Danish throne for Christian II. At the same time, he was working with Bernt von Mehlen and the Sture party, symbolically represented by Kristina Gyllenstierna (widow of Sten Sture), to gain the Swedish throne on behalf of Kristina's young son, Nils Stensson Sture. At least one respected Swedish historian states that Norby coveted the Swedish and Danish crowns for himself.29.1/
Except for the Danish farmer/peasant class, King Christian II and Sören Norby were hated and feared by the Danish elite, i.e., nobles and clergy. Prior to going into exile in 1523, Christian II had developed a good relationship with the borger and farmer/peasant classes at the political and economic expense of the noble and clergy classes.
It is not clear when Norby’s popularity on Gotland commenced to wane. However, as early as 1524 it was reported by Tewes Kusels, a Norby skipper who shifted his allegiance to the Hansa, that there was no one on the Island (i.e., Gotland), freeman, peasant, or "landskneckt," who would rather serve under Norby than under the Hansa cities. Further, if those on the Island were to disembark they would without hesitation abandon Norby and align with the cities. Kusels also reported on Norby’s defensive positions on Gotland.30/ Whether Kusels’ report was propagandistic pap or a good faith assessment of Norby’s popularity or support on Gotland is not clear. The fact that Kusels’ assessment was provided along with information regarding defensive positions on the island tends to color it as intelligence, as opposed to propaganda. This coloration lends a degree of credibility to Kusels’ report (or statement). It should be noted that a year before crossing over to the Hansa, Kusels and some of his shipmates had been captured by Sören Norby and thereafter swore allegiance to him. It appears that this allegiance was as insincere as it was short in duration.
Near the end of 1525, Sören Norby's loyalty to former King Christian II was more than Frederik I could tolerate. So long as Norby continued to carry the banner for King Christian II, Frederik's crown would be in jeopardy. Likewise, Norby posed an even greater threat to the Swedish crown of King Gustav Vasa. Clearly, Norby was a threat to both kings and this threat served as a catalyst in uniting them in a successful defense of their self-interests. Moreover, it was in the best interest of the Hansa to support Sweden and Denmark's military efforts against Sören Norby 30.1/ - - which it did. In August, 1526, the combined naval forces of Sweden and Denmark finally succeeded in overwhelming Sören Norby's agile but limited fleet.30.2/ This brought an end to Sören Norby as a power on the Baltic; and, as a serious threat to the Swedish and Danish kings.
Norby was forced to abandon his mainland holdings and flee with his fleet to Livonia (now Estonia/Lithuania) and on to Ivangorad, Russia, where he was granted asylum. During his stay in Ivangorad, Norby provided transportation for Russian merchants and their merchandise, while continuing to disrupt commerce on the Baltic as he had been doing for several years. This activity was not in the best interest of the Livonians. To counter or stop Russia's use of Norby's fleet, the Livonians promoted a trade embargo against the Russians.30.3/
If Sören Norby can fairly be accused of "piracy," it would be as a result of his non-state sponsored activities while he was in Ivangorad in 1526 and 1527. Norby’s only possible state authority was the Russians and the tattered cloak of authority handed him by his exiled king, Christian II. On the issue of whether Norby was acting on behalf of the Russians, the Russian’s deftly engaged in a modern rendition of “plausible deniability” regarding Norby's maritime service on behalf of their merchants. However, it is not deniable that Vasilii III, the Russian Czar, was virtually without a maritime fleet or sea power. It is also well established that Norby was transporting Russian merchants and their goods and merchandise throughout the Baltic region.31/ Notwithstanding Russian denials; it appears that they saw, and took advantage of, an opportunity to covertly obtain maritime power without formally having a maritime fleet. Moreover, even though their complicity was apparent, in the world of 16th century diplomacy they effectively denied responsibility for any of the maritime excesses engaged in by Norby and the Russian merchants.
In May of 1528, Norby departed Russia for Brandenburg. In the months preceding this departure, nothing is reported regarding his maritime activities.32/ It is likely that the Russians could not withstand the commercial pressure which was being brought to bear as a result of Norby’s activities (services?). To lend credibility to their denials that Norby was acting on their behalf, the Russians detained him for a few months prior to his departure for Brandenburg. This is consistent with the many reports that Norby was imprisoned by the Russians and that it was through the efforts of exiled King Christian II and his brother-in-law, Karl V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, that Sören Norby's freedom was secured in 1528. 33/ This freedom was the commencement of the final chapter in Sören Norby's life as he promptly loaned his considerable military skills to the Emperor and was killed in 1530 during the siege of Florence, Italy.34/
It is unlikely that Sören Norby’s escape to Livonia in 1526, or his activities while in the area, served to endure him to his under-armed and outnumbered Danish comrades (i.e., farmer/peasants). Shortly before and shortly after Norby was forced to flee to Livonia, thousands of mainland farmer/peasants revolting against King Frederik I were killed in carrying out Norby's seeming obsession to restore Christian II to the Danish throne. This was a cause which the shrewd Norby had interlaced with the grievances of the farmer/peasant class, which was in open revolt against Frederik I. Surely, those on Gotland and on the mainland who had sided with Norby were disappointed, if not angry, at his apparent abandonment of their cause. Unlike Sören Norby, they were unable to simply pickup and look for refuge elsewhere.
In the end, the farmer/peasants on Gotland and on the mainland had little reason to admire Christian II and Admiral Sören Norby. The propaganda machinery of the time was most assuredly busy demonizing Christian II and his loyal protector, Sören Norby. Indeed, Christian II was so hated and feared by Frederik I (his uncle) that in 1532, when Christian made the inexplicable mistake of returning to Denmark, he was promptly imprisoned for the next 17 years of his life.35/ Many historical accounts of this period refer to Sören Norby as a “pirate.” By 1526, the tide had clearly turned and no life was left in the aspirations of Christian II and his loyal Admiral. Norby’s activities during his 1526-28 stay in Livonia and Ivangorad only served to enhance the allegations of his enemies that he was a “pirate” or worse.
In light of the foregoing, it seems that being descended from Sören Norby during the time frame of 1524 to 1645 would have been more of an embarrassment than a matter of pride. It is difficult to understand why a prominent family, or anyone else on Danish Gotland not actually descended from Sören Norby, would have been motivated to claim him as an ancestor if such a claim were not true. Simply put, the Norby generations preceding Pehr Bengtsson Norby would have had little or no reason to want to create a fabricated descendancy from Sören Norby; and, equally as important, there is no evidence to suggest that such a false descendancy was in fact created.
If Sören Norby had been a folk hero that Gotlanders were motivated to falsely claim as an ancestor, one would think that this might be reflected in the names that the general population bestowed upon their babies. During 1500 to 1699, which spans both the Danish and Swedish eras on Gotland, the given name of "Soren," appears fewer than 25 times in Olle Överby's "Gotlänska släkter" database.36/ Standing alone, no inference can be drawn from the paucity of children given the name "Soren," however, when viewed in the totality of facts and circumstances, it does confirm that during this time frame Sören Norby's popularity was not such that people were naming their babies after him. This in turn suggests that whatever the level of his popularity, it was not such that he was in demand as a fabricated ancestor.
And finally, even if there were peasants on Gotland who took on the name “Norby,” it is unlikely that they or their offspring suddenly became educated and were named as priests on Gotland. Priests were a privileged class and usually came from a priest’s family, who came from priests a family, and so on. It strains credulity to suggest that a family of priests would falsely claim to be descended from Sören Norby.
Having presented the many reasons why Sören Norby was not held in particularly high esteem on Gotland after about 1524, it must be acknowledged that his bravery and leadership skills as a soldier were well recognized, even by his enemies. His moral code was exemplary. This is evidenced by his openly providing refuge on his ships to Swedish noblemen selected to be executed during the "Stockholm bloodbath." His moral code as a soldier directed him to disobey odious orders, even those issued by his king. King Gustav III of Sweden (1772-1792) wrote approvingly of Norby’s principled sense of duty as a soldier. When Norby was ordered by King Christian II to assassinate a Swedish lady of rank who had fallen into the King’s hands, according to Gustav III, Norby replied:
‘No, Christiern, this employment is not suited for me. I am a soldier, not an executioner. I have learnt to obey you, but without shame, and without crime. Command me, and, if it be necessary, I will brave a thousand deaths; spare neither my property nor my life, for they belong to my king – my honour alone belongs to myself.’ 37/
This passage eloquently “. . . draws the line of obedience, even to a military chieftain; and it asserts that a soldier, because he is under absolute command, is not bound to sacrifice his honour.” 38/
The most common characteristic of oral family histories covering several generations is that insignificant or undistinguished individuals will eventually be omitted from the oral re-telling of the family history or pedigree. The usual reason an ancestor might continue to be identified after two or three generations is because he or she, a) participated in significant historic events which are the subject of re-telling from generation to generation; or, b) reached a high level of fame, wealth or notoriety which is recounted from generation to generation.
Because of his participation in historical events and his fame and notoriety, Sören Norby is precisely the kind of ancestor who is remembered from one generation to the next. The generations omitted from the von Lingen pedigree submission simply exemplify how oral family history perpetuates the identities of the famous or notorious from generation to generation, while the identities of the undistinguished are allowed to fade away in the fog of time.
The omissions or gaps in the von Lingen pedigree submission do not affect the core proposition, i.e., Christina Norby and, by implication, her father, Pehr Bengtsson Norby, were descendants of Sören Norby. Oral family history does not gain credibility in direct proportion to its completeness; to the contrary, if oral family history is too complete in its reach back in time for undistinguished ancestors, it may be suspect.
While there is no empirical evidence on the subject, few people (not engaged in genealogical research of their ancestors) know the names of their undistinguished great-great grandparents. Common sense tells us that if a great-great grandparent or one of his/her ancestors was a significant historical figure, such as Sören Norby, this fact would be talked about (within the family) from generation to generation. It seems obvious; such a fact does not become less of a fact simply because the identities of some intervening generations have failed to survive the passage of time.
essential to the von Lingen submission's
Pehr Bengtsson Norby was descended from Sören Norby, there is "legend"
purports to provide the names for the two missing ancestors (discussed
According to the legend, Sören Norby was never married but had several children; one named "Bernt" (whose godfather was purported to be Bernt von Mehlen), who remained on Gotland and was the father of "Bengt" Norby who, in turn, was the father of Pehr Bengtsson Norby.40/ Tommy Sundberg finds no evidence supporting the existence of "Bernt" and "Bengt" and concludes that there are indications against the existence of "Bengt;"41/ whereas, Holger Rosman simply accepts "Bernt" and "Bengt" as reliable legend, but not subject to documentation.42/ While Pehr Bengtsson Norby, Christina Norby's father, is also missing from the von Lingen submission, the fact of his existence is understandably not questioned by either author.
Bengt Norby. During the 1500s and 1600s, it seems that the names Bent, Bendt, Bengdt and Bengt were used interchangeably on Danish/Swedish Gotland. As to the existence or non-existence of "Bengt," a 1664 epitaphium displayed in the Rone church represents near contemporaneous documentation of the facts stated therein, namely that Pehr Bengtsson Norby's most immediate paternal ancestor was in fact named "Bent" the Danish equivalent of "Bengt."43/ So, contrary to Sundberg's position that there is no evidence that "Bengt" ever existed, the epitaphium is clear and convincing evidence that "Bengt" not only existed, but that he was the father of Pehr Bengtsson (i.e., Bent's son) Norby. Of course, the epitaphium must be read in conjunction with the von Lingen pedigree submission in order to arrive at the conclusion that Pehr Bengtsson Norby's father, ("Bent," also called, "Bengt") was descended from Sören Norby.
Holger Rosman reports that Sören Norby's grandson, Bengt Norby, owned Takstens and several other farms on northern Gotland. This "Bengt," according to Rosman, was Pehr Bengtsson Norby's father. And, according to Rosman, Pehr Bengtsson Norby's descendants for several generations also owned Taksten and other farms on northern Gotland.44/
Tommy Sundberg, who apparently has had access to Holger Rosman's handwritten research notes, states that Rosman also reported that Sören Norby's son "Bengt" (should probably read "Bernt") was the owner of Fardume in Rute and that Sören Norby's grandson "Bengt" was a later owner of Fardume, as well as Takstens and Hundstäde in Lärbro.45/
It is Tommy Sundberg's position that there is no evidence that Sören Norby or any of his descendants ever owned Fardume in Rute or that a "Bengt" ever owned Takstens and Hundstäde in Lärbro. Sundberg adds to this that there is no documentation or confirmation that Sören Norby had a son named Bernt and a grandson named Bengt. In support of his position, Sundberg points to the fact that his research shows that in the 1570s, when "legend" has it that Bengt Norby would have owned Fardume, Taksten and Hundstäde, these places were owned by others. He reports that Fardume was owned by a Dominius; Takstens was owned by an Olluff and a Peder; and, Hundstäde (also referred to as Vikers Lilla grund) was owned by four farmers (none named Bengt).46/ Sundberg suggests that in the absence of documentary evidence that Bengt was an owner of one or more of these properties, it is fair to infer that Bengt never existed and that the "legend" is without basis.
As to the existence or non-existence of "Bengt" Norby, the 1664 epitaphium referred to earlier conclusively establishes that "Bengt" or "Bent" did in fact exist and therefore leaves open the possibility, as suggested by legend, that he owned properties such as Fardume, Taksten and/or Hundstäde. Before embarking on a discussion of the ownership of these properties, the reader is again reminded that the von Lingen pedigree stands on its own. The function of this discussion is to rebut any attempt to negate or disprove the Norby "legend" with what may be inadequate evidence.
First to Fardume - contrary to Sundberg's position, the fact that Fardume was owned at a particular point in time in the 1570s by a person designated "Dominius" does not negate the "legend" that Fardume had been owned earlier by Sören Norby and his Gotland descendants. Indeed, Sundberg cites nothing to suggest that "Dominius" himself was not a Norby. Priests are sometimes referred to as "Dominus" or "Dominicus." This leaves open the possibility that Sundberg's "Dominius," may have been a Norby priest.
It should be remembered that Sören Norby held Gotland in feoffor and had autocratic control over its affairs from 1517 to 1525. It is likely that Fardume Castle (and/or its ruins) and the surrounding farms and marsh areas were of strategic importance to Sören Norby. It would not be unexpected that such a property might be owned by Sören Norby and his descendants. This probably explains the historical references to Sören Norby's cellar or basement at Fardume. The foregoing does not prove or disprove that in the 1500s Fardume was owned by a Norby. Thus, the legend of such ownership stands unrebutted by the "Dominius" ownership discussed by Sundberg.
We turn now to Takstens and to Tommy Sundberg's point that during the 1570s Takstens was owned by a person named "Olluff" and a person named "Peder." Apparently this is all that was revealed by the Gotland records viewed by Sundberg.47/ However, such sparse data does not preclude "Bengt" or other Norbys from having owned Takstens both before and after "Olluff" and "Peder." In the absence of surnames pointing to another family, these two individuals could very well have been Norbys. Indeed, Sören Norby's only historically recorded son was in fact named "Oluf." Oluf was born about 1518. 48/
This means that Sören Norby's son Oluf could be the same "Oluff" who, according to Sundberg, is shown as owning Takstens sometime in the 1570s. The "Olluff" implication is discussed in more detail, infra. While this writer draws no inference from the name "Peder," it is nevertheless noted that the Danish rendition of Pehr Bengtsson Norby's name was "Peder Bentsön Norb˙." This is not to suggest that they are one and the same, but only that Pehr may have been named after a Norby relative who lived at Takstens.
It has not been disputed that Gotland's incomplete records of land ownership show that in the 1600s and 1700s Pehr Bengtsson Norby's descendants - Per Christensson Norby and Christian Norby - in fact owned Takstens. Gotland's records do not always permit the tracing of land ownership from owner to owner. However, as noted above, Sundberg's paper reveals that at some point in time in the 1570s, Taksten's was owned by the aforementioned "Olluff" and "Peder."
In the final analysis, the proponents of the view that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was descended from Sören Norby gain considerably from the Takstens ownership issue - the opponents of the view gain nothing. This conclusion is based on the inference that an "Olluff" Norby owned Takstens in the 1500s. (Discussed in more detail, infra.) The conclusion is strengthened by Norby ownership of Takstens in the 1600s and 1700s and by the fact that farms generally stayed in the family from generation to generation. Thus, the strength of the inference that Norbys owned Takstens in the 1500s is enhanced by Norby ownership in the 1600s and 1700s.
At a minimum the “legend,” as it applies to Bengt Norby, is very much alive and is consistent with the foregoing circumstantial evidence.
Bernt Norby. Continuing with the "legend" - the central proof that Sören Norby had a son named "Bernt" is evidenced by the fact that in 1524, Bernt von Mehlen stood as godfather to at least one of Sören Norby's children at Visborg Castle in Visby.49/ It is assumed that it was not unusual in the middle ages for a child to be named after his godfather. There are two near contemporaneous written reports, one authored by Peder Swart and the other by Clement Rensel, which record that in 1524 von Mehlen stood as godfather to at least one of Sören Norby's children. However, Sundberg discounts these reports on the ground that Swart was allegedly one of King Gustav's propagandists and that Rensel, who was present on von Mehlen's 1524 mission to Gotland, might have authored his account to accommodate the Swedish King's propaganda agenda.50/ It seems clear that von Mehlen in fact stood as godfather to at least one of Norby's children in 1524. The only uncertainty centers on the gender of the child.
If a person of Bernt von Mehlen's prominence in fact stood as godfather to one or more of Sören Norby's children in 1524, this would lend some support to the subsequent legend that Sören Norby had a son named "Bernt." But the point made by Sundberg is that we don't even know the gender of the child for whom von Mehlen purportedly stood as godfather. Sundberg notes that the child was probably Sören Norby's daughter, the daughter who was captured in 1525 by King Gustav.51/ But, just as important, we do not know the child's age. If the captured female child was born in 1523 or before, it would have been possible that Norby had a son born in 1524 or before, as legend suggests; and, that it was this son for which von Mehlen stood as sponsor in 1524.
Identity of the Norby Child for Whom von Mehlen Was Godfather. Sundberg supports his female child thesis with quotes from a letter that Sören Norby sent to King Gustav Vasa. According to Sundberg this letter, among other things, inquires about:
"om myne thiennere Söffuerin brwn, leonardus, mith barn, och the andher myne swena."52/
[Writer's Translation: "about my servant Söffuerin Brun, leonardus, my child, and the andher my swena." Writer is uncertain about proper translation of italicized text, see below.]
Sundberg goes on to explain that the Norby letter has been misconstrued by others to mean that "leonardus" was a Norby child, when in fact he was a servant, and that the reference to "my child" is to a Norby daughter. He concludes that this daughter is probably the child for whom von Mehlen stood as godfather in 1524.
Sundberg does not say what is meant by the last phrase, "och the andher myne swena." The words "the andher" and the word "swena" are not found in the Swedish dictionary. The word "andher" might be a misspelling or a word derived from the Swedish word "andet" which translates to the English word "other"; and, the word "swena" appears from the context in which it is used to be in reference to another class of person. Research reveals that the word "svena" in Old Swedish means, "youth, young person, or young man." Thus, the last clause might be translated, as follows: "and my other youth" or "and my other young person" or "and my other young man." If this is a correct translation, the person referenced in the last clause is a young male. The use of the word "my" in this clause suggests that the person is an adolescent son of Sören Norby; however, the reference could be to a youthful servant (other than Brun).
The above quoted text from the Sören Norby letter suggests that he was inquiring about his servant, Söffuerin Brun; about Leonardus; about his child; and, about his young son or servant. As to "leonardus, my child," while on first impression it appears that Sören Norby is referring to him as his "child," when the language of the letter is considered in its entirety, it follows that he is inquiring about at least 4 people. Additionally, Sundberg states that he has had access to other letters from Norby to King Gustav Vasa and that these letters clearly indicate that "leonardus" was a Norby servant. If "my child" is in reference to "leonardus," then the letter would be silent as to the daughter taken by King Gustav Vasa. This would not make sense. Sören Norby would surely make inquiry regarding his young daughter. Thus, Sundberg is undoubtedly correct in concluding that the reference to "my child" is to the Norby daughter. The Norby letter seems to be referring to a "Söffuerin brwn" as the servant. Sundberg does not address "Söffuerin brwn," and the matter will remain unaddressed except to note that some authors refer to a "Severin Brun," one of Sören Norby's most trusted men. He was captured by the Swedes sometime between June and November 1525, after a ship carrying him and Norby's young daughter from Gotland to the mainland ran aground in the vicinity of Kalmar. It was Brun's fate to be executed in Stockholm's market in February, 1527. 53/ It may be that Norby refers to Brun as his servant in order to conceal the fact that he was one of Norby's most trusted aids. Likewise, it is possible that Norby's other letters, referring to Leonardus as his servant, was for the purpose of misleading the Swedes as to Leonardus' true identity. The issue of Leonardus' relationship to Sören Norby is left unsettled, as is the identity and relationship of the person or persons referred to in the last clause.
Sundberg concludes, in part from the Norby letter and from the fact that a Norby daughter was taken captive when Kalmar Castle fell to King Gustav Vasa (the Norby daughter was captured later when the ship transporting her run aground), that the Bernt Norby of "legend" did not exist and that the "legend" is not supported by fact. However, as noted earlier, not knowing the gender and age of the child for whom Bernt von Mehlen purportedly stood as godfather also precludes a determination that the child was not the "Bernt" of legend. Since it probably cannot be determined whether von Mehlen stood as godfather to a Norby daughter, or to a Norby son, or possibly to a Norby daughter and son, the paucity of evidence on this point neither enhances nor diminishes the Bernt Norby element of the “legend.”
As can be seen from the foregoing discussion, Sundberg's point that the Bernt Norby of "legend" is not supported by fact depends on how one views the facts. It can also be said that the legend is not rebutted by the facts. Further, while there is no way of knowing the individual's age, the Lärbro Gotland parish account ledger for 1604 shows that there was in fact a "Bernt" (could be read as “Bengt”) associated with Takstens in 1604. 54/ It is not possible to say whether this might be the same "Bernt" for whom Bernt von Mehlen purportedly stood as godfather in 1524. Nevertheless, the fact that there appears to have been a "Bernt" at Takstens in 1604 is consistent with the legend that Sören Norby had a son named "Bernt," although by 1604 he would have been at least 80 years of age. While very difficult to sort out, it can be seen that the "Bernt" aspect of the legend may have a circumstantial underpinning. Much would depend on a correct reading of the name. It is more likely that this is Pehr Bengtsson Norby’s father “Bengt” as he appears again in the 1610 church account records as “Herr Bengt” (could be read as “Bernt” or “Bent”).
Tommy Sundberg may be correct in concluding that Sören Norby did not have a son named "Bernt." However, there is little question but that Sören Norby had a son named "Oluf." Thus, if one accepts the von Lingen pedigree as proof of Pehr Bengtsson Norby's descent from Sören Norby, it is then highly likely that Oluf was the father of Bengt (Bent) Norby and the grandfather of Pehr Bengtsson Norby.
In providing reasonable hypotheses regarding the identities of the generations separating Sören and Pehr Bengtsson Norby, further discussion of Oluf Norby is necessary. If Sören Norby was the progenitor of the Norby dynasty of priests on Gotland, as proposed by this writer, one should look for evidence that at least one of his progeny (prior to Pehr Bengtsson Norby) received an education, particularly an education or training in Lutheran theology. Moreover, there should also be some evidence of a presence of that individual on Gotland.
There is evidence that Oluff Norby, Sören Norby's descendant (son), did in fact receive religious training and education. Little is known about Oluf Norby except that, for an undetermined period of time, he was in the care of and was educated by King Christian II;55/ and, that as of 1529, he was in the household of Jens Mikkelsen Mønbo,56/ Christian II's Lutheran priest and [former] Magister at Kjøbenhavns University.57/ Oluf's presence in the Lutheran priest/educator's household was in furtherance of his education and training in Lutheran theology.
Did Oluf Norby have a presence on Gotland? There are probably no historical documents specifically making reference to a person named "Oluf Norby" on Gotland in the 1500s. This is not unexpected as Gotland's land and church records in the 1500 and 1600s usually only speak to the name of the farm or place and the owner's given or first name, e.g., "Oluff" at Takstens. It is beyond question, however, that Sören Norby had a son named "Oluf" and that Oluf was educated by a Lutheran priest/educator. It is also a fact that Tommy Sundberg's research not only revealed an "Oluff" on Gotland, but specifically placed him at Takstens in the 1570s. This is the same Takstens which legend has as having been owned by Sören Norby's grandson, Bent (Bengt) Norby, the father of Pehr Bengtsson Norby (this aspect of the legend is supported by what appears to be an entry for “Herr Bengt” (could be read as “Bernt”) at Takstens in the Lärbro church account records for 1610). Add to all of this the fact that this is the same Takstens which can be shown to have been owned by Pehr Bengtsson Norby's descendants in the 1600s and 1700s and the fact that traditionally farms stayed within the same family from generation to generation and you have a series of facts from which it can reasonably be concluded that Sören Norby’s son 0luff was not only on Gotland in the 1570’s, but he was at Takstens. There are too many circumstances pointing to Norby ownership of Takstens in the 1500’s for them to be explained away as irrelevant fortuitous happenings.
So, from the totality of the facts and circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that Oluf Norby did in fact return to Gotland and that with his training in Lutheran theology as a foundation either he or his descendants founded the dynasty of Norby priests on Gotland. This was a dynasty which was subsequently manifested in Pehr Bengtsson Norby and his priest descendants. Some of these priests and their churches are listed in a report entitled, “Pehr Bengtsson Norby, His Priest Descendants & Their Gotland Churches.”
While there is evidence that Oluf Norby was educated in part by a Lutheran priest/educator, there is no documentary evidence that he or his son, Bengt, were in fact priests on Gotland. Lotte Jensen's compilation of Gotland parishes and priests contains many gaps in the list of parish priests during the 1500s and early 1600s. 58/ Thus, based on this source and the original and secondary sources relied on in the compilation, it cannot be said that Oluf and/or his son Bengt were, or were not, priests. However, Oluf Norby's association with Lutheran priest and educator, Jens Mikkelsen Mønbo, suggests that he probably became a Lutheran priest.
Working backward from Pehr Bengtsson Norby, there is a circumstantial basis for concluding that Pehr Bengtsson Norby emanated from a priest's family. According to Tommy Sundberg, Nils Butendorff reported in his genealogical work that Pehr Bengtsson Norby became a priest as early as 1611. 59/ If this is correct, Pehr Bengtsson Norby would have been about 21 years of age when he became a priest. Whether he became a priest in 1611, as suggested by Butendorff, or in 1620 as is usually reported, he was a very young man for the important and solemn calling which was bestowed upon him. This suggests that he was well-educated at a very young age and that he likely came from an influential and well-educated family with a tradition of serving as priests. We know that the vicar of Rone and Eke handed such a tradition down to his sons and grandsons. Evidence of the tradition is found in the fact that no less than four of Pehr Bengtsson Norby's six sons were priests on Gotland and, according to Holger Rosman, no less than 12 of about 30 male descendants became priests.60/ A tradition of education and service as a Lutheran priest did not "just happen" in 16th and 17th century Denmark and Sweden. Because of his age, education and the priest tradition passed on to his sons and grandsons, it is inferred that Pehr Bengtsson Norby himself came from a priest's family or a family with a strong orientation toward Lutheranism. The circumstantial evidence suggests that the well educated and influential progenitors of Pehr Bengtsson Norby were Oluf and Bengt Norby, the son and grandson of Sören Norby.
If one does not accept Oluf and Bengt Norby as the connecting links between Pehr Bengtsson Norby and Sören Norby, what is the effect of a two generation gap in the oral family history recorded in the von Lingen submission? In the absence of writings, the only way family history or pedigree can be perpetuated from one generation to the next is by word of mouth. At some point the pedigree will be written down for the first time, as appears to have been the case with the von Lingen pedigree submission to The House of The Nobility in 1764. As discussed previously, this genre of family history will recount distinguished ancestry; and, the undistinguished will be forgotten and will not appear in the first recordation of ancestry. Does the absence of forgotten ancestors in the first recordation render the recordation less reliable? Or, put another way, does a person's forgotten ancestry effectively erase or taint the identities of those who are remembered at the first recordation? In the absence of evidence that the first recordation was in error or that it was fabricated, the answer to both questions must be in the negative.
Standing alone, the von Lingen pedigree is sufficient to prove that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was a descendant of Soren Norby. Furthermore, this evidence is enhanced by the proof that Oluf and Bengt Norby are the connecting generations.
Turning now from the oral family history to the overall "legend" connecting Sören and Pehr Bengtsson Norby - Tommy Sundberg takes the position that the "legend" descending Pehr Bengtsson Norby from Sören Norby is without any proof whatsoever, and that it was not considered true in early 1800s. While not using the terms "false" or "fabricated" to describe the "legend" and its origins, it is clear that this is what Sundberg is saying in a polite way.61/
Tommy Sundberg initially attributes fabrication to what he characterizes as the Sören Norby descendants "legend" and points to a mischievous farmer/surveyor named "Ludvig Fegraeus" (full name, Carl Ludvig August Victor Fegraeus). Sundberg writes that farmer/surveyor Fegraeus was born in 1820 and lived until 1909. His wife, Sofia Falk, was descended from Pehr Bengtsson Norby. According to Sundberg, Fegraeus' motive for creating the legend was essentially to entertain his audiences at parties and on joyous occasions. Of course, this is what "legend" is all about, story telling. However, Sundberg also states that Fegraeus had another motive, which was to make Sören Norby into his wife's ancestor by simply creating "Bernt" and "Bengt" to bridge the generational gap between Sören and Pehr Bengtsson Norby.62/ If this occurred, it would not constitute mere story telling, it would be a blatant fabrication.
Fegraeus' adding of "Bernt" and "Bengt" to the ancestral line may not be as unfounded as Sundberg suggests. Being married to a descendant of Pehr Bengtsson Norby, it is just as reasonable to believe that Fegraeus was aware of the Norby "oral family history" naming Sören Norby as an ancestor of Christina Norby. Filling the two generation gap between Sören and Pehr with "Bernt" and "Bengt" could have been a matter of simple reasoning on the part of Fegraeus. Fegraeus was not uneducated or illiterate and may have been aware of the historical reports of Bernt von Mehlen’s 1524 expedition to Gotland. It was during this expedition that von Mehlen stood as godfather to one or more of Sören Norby’s children.
Fegraeus likely assumed that von Mehlen stood as godfather to a Norby son who was named after his godfather, “Bernt” von Mehlen. Fegraeus would have known to use the name "Bengt Norby" as Pehr Bengtsson Norby's father (and Bernt Norby’s son) because Pehr Bengtsson Norby carried the name of his father forward in his own name. This is a more tenable scenario than the notion that Fegraeus decided to make his wife into a Sören Norby descendant by creating a “Bernt” and “Bengt” Norby in order to bridge the generation gap between Sören Norby and Pehr Bengtsson Norby.
Baron von Lingen's 1764 pedigree submission to The House of The Nobility pre-dates Ludvig Fegraeus' birth by over 55 years. Thus, Tommy Sundberg's initial thesis that Ludvig Fegraeus was the source and inspiration of the "legend" that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was descended from Sören Norby, cannot be correct. When he first wrote his article, Sundberg was unaware of the 1764 von Lingen pedigree submission. However, to his credit, when someone familiar with the von Lingen submission called it to his attention, he authored a postscript to his completed article in which he discussed the von Lingen pedigree submission.63/ He concluded, however, that the facts represented in the von Lingen submission were the product of an unproven "legend" running contrary to historical sources.
It must be
conceded that it is possible,
created a false pedigree descending Pehr Bengtsson Norby from Sören
is conceded only because in the converse, it is not
However, no evidence has been found to support the notion that the von
pedigree representation was false or fabricated, or that it was the
mere "legend". To the contrary, the evidence strongly supports the von
representation that Christina Norby was a descendant of Sören Norby.
The focus of this note has been on the writing of Tommy Sundberg. This is because, out of all the researchers addressing the issue, he has presented and documented the best case against Pehr Bengtsson Norby being a descendant of Sören Norby. Heavy reliance has been placed on Sundberg's diligent research, as it is reflected in his article.
Based on the evidence discussed in this note, it is reasonable to conclude that the ancestry of Pehr Bengtsson Norby, going back to Sören Norby, is as follows:
Sören Severin Andersen Norby (b. abt 1470, d. 1530).
Oluf Norby (b. abt 1518, d. aft 1570).
(also called, Bengt Norby)
(b. bef 1570, d. aft 1590).
Bengtsson Norby (also called,
Peder Bentsön Norb˙)(b. abt 1590,
In summary, there is substantial evidence that Pehr Bengtsson Norby was a descendant of Sören Norby. This conclusion is based, first and foremost, on the Baron von Lingen pedigree submission to The House of the Nobility (i.e., Riddarhuset) in 1764. The von Lingen submission is corroborated by the following circumstances: von Lingen was a family member and was in a unique position to receive written and/or oral family history from one or more prior generations; von Lingen was in a position to weigh the credibility of the oral family history and its sources; von Lingen was distinguished in his own right and had no motive to fabricate a descendancy from Sören Norby; and, the von Lingen submission, with its generation gaps and absence of story telling hyperbole, has the hallmarks of oral family history, as opposed to mere "legend." Moreover, the circumstantial evidence regarding Oluf Norby tends to corroborate the von Lingen submission to The House of the Nobility, as does the circumstantial evidence supporting almost all of the Norby “legend.”
The writer's comfort level regarding the place of Oluf Norby in Pehr Bengtsson Norby's ancestry chart is somewhat less than that felt for Bengt Norby. The Oluf Norby link is based primarily on circumstantial evidence. The Bengt Norby link is based on circumstantial evidence and on documentation in the form of the 1664 "Peder Bentsön Norb˙" epitaphium which, as late as 2006, was on display at the Rone church.
There are considerable differences of opinion among Norby researchers regarding the ancestry of Pehr Bengtsson Norby. However, it is not enough to simply assert that there is no evidence establishing a relationship between Sören and Pehr Bengtsson Norby. The burden is upon those who make such a broad assertion to come forward and explain why the oral family history recorded in the von Lingen pedigree submission is not evidence; and, why Baron von Lingen, a distinguished man in the middle years of his life, would have been motivated to recklessly adopt what some contend to be an unfounded or fabricated legend as part of his pedigree. On its face, von Lingen's pedigree constitutes an affirmative representation of fact on his part. Full and accurate truth finding is not advanced by simply characterizing his pedigree representation as false or mere "legend."
Hopefully, future researchers with access to original documents will be able to shed more light on the blood line issue here. In the interim, Tommy Sundberg's article, "Sören Norrby - Anfadern" and this note, "Ancestry of Pehr Bengtsson Norby," present sharply conflicting views of the evidence currently available. If additional persuasive evidence is to be found, it will most likely be found by researchers fluent in Scandinavian languages - laboriously combing through Swedish and Danish archives of ancient records.
Finally, genealogists who claim an ancestral connection as outlined above may wish to insert a caveat in their pedigree material to the effect that this relationship has not been documented in the traditional sense. The caveat might also note that the relationship is based primarily on oral family history, which appears to have been first recorded by Baron von Lingen in his pedigree submission to The House of The Nobility (i.e., Riddarhuset) in 1764, plus circumstantial and limited documentary evidence in support of the connecting links, i.e., Oluf and Bengt Norby.
Author's note: Researchers should be aware of the many spelling and name variation under which Sören Norby might be found, including the following: Sören Andersen Norby, Severin Norby, Sören Severin Andersen Norby, Severin Andersen Norby and Söffuerin Norby, with the name Norby sometimes spelled Norrby, Nordby and Nørby.
1/ See generally Tommy Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, Gotländska studier 2, pp. 47-58 (Visby: St. Knuts Gille, 1973); Holger Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, in Personhistorisk tidsskrift (1904), p. 82, published by Kungl. Boktryckeriet. (Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt & söner, 1905), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/pht/1904/0090.html>; C. J. Hallgren, Gotlänska Släkter (Visby, 1926), p. 380; see also Rötters Anbytarforum, Mats Carlin et. al discussion, at internet at <http://genealogi.aland.net/discus/messages/44/19657.html?1070690941>.
2/ Holger Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, p. 82.
3/ Henry Smith Williams, The Historians' History of the World (New York, The Outlook Company, 1904), vol. XVI, p. 246, republished by Google Books, electronic edition; C. M. Butler, The Reformation in Sweden, (Randolph & Company, New York, N. Y., 1883), p. 71. (By letter, exiled King Christian II wrote that all his powers were transferred to Norby until such time as he returned.)
4/ Holger Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, p. 82; see also Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 47-48.
5/ See Franklin D. Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois Press, 1988), pp. 103-04; see also, The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 2, The Scandinavian North, Ch. XVII (Cambridge University Press, 1903), at 604; and, Rev. W. E. Colons, B.D., The Scandinavian North, Ch. XVII, at 604, internet at <http://www.uni-Mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/cmh/cmh217.html>.
6/ Anders Fryxell, The History of Sweden, translation by Mary Howitt (London, R. Bentley, 1844), vol. II, p. 43; Hofberg, Heurlin, Millqvist & Rubenson, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, p. 189 (2d ed., 1906), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/sbh/b0189.html>.
7/ Nordisk familjebok. 1800-talsutgåvan. 11. Militärkonventioner - Nådaval, Norby, Sören, p. 1208 (Norby provided refuge on his ships to some Swedes) (Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag, 1887), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/nfak/0610.html>; Fryxell, The History of Sweden, p. 55. See also, Eric Gustave Geijer, The History of the Swedes, tr. J. H. Turner (Whittaker, London, 1845), p. 106 (upon receiving orders in the summer of 1521 to put to death all Swedes of distinction who came into his hands, Norby ignored the orders and permitted many noblemen to escape, declaring “so that they might rather guard their necks like warriors than be slaughtered like chickens”).
8/ Fryxell, The History of Sweden, p. 51; Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History, at 104.
9/ Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History, at 104; Nordisk familjebok / 1800-talsutgåvan. 6., Gyllenstierna, Kristina, pp. 331-332, (Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag, 1883), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/nfaf/0170.html>.
10/ Nordisk familjebok / 1800-talsutgåvan. 6., Gyllenstierna, Kristina, at 331-332.
11/ Hofberg, et. al, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, p. 189; see also Nordisk familjebok / 1800-talsutgåvan. 6., Gyllenstierna, Kristina, at 331-332. See also, The History of Gustavus Vasa, King of Sweden: With Extracts from His Correspondence (J. Murray, London, 1852), Ch. V, pp. 98-99 (After Kristina came within the power of Gustavus Vasa, she acknowleged that Norby had proposed to her and that she had spurned his proposal. The romantic nature of the relationship might be inferred from the fact that Kristina had sent Norby a gold ring and tablet. However, she later explained, to the apparent satisfaction of King Gustavus Vasa, that this was merely a gesture in appreciation for the courteous attention Norby had paid her while she was captive in Denmark.) Even today there exists in the collection of a foundation associated with the Gyllenstierna family an oil painting of a man believed to be Sören Norby. This painting is in the art collection of the Krapperup Foundation, administrator of the Gyllenstierna family estate known as Krapperups. See Norby painting.
12/ Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History, at 123.
13/ Anatole Noestl, Schweden Outback, Blekinge vor 400 Jahren: Nibelungentreue auf schwedisch ( 2005), internet at <http://www.schwedenoutback.com/nibelungen1.htm>.
14/ Mats hemsida, Svenska Uppror, internet at <http://www.geocities.com/matshemsida/uppror/index.html> from Lars-Olof Larsson, "Gustav Vasa," Prisma at <www.prismabok.se>.
15/ Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History, at 123.
16/ See, Niels H. Kragh-Nielsen, Personalhistorisk Tidsskrift 2000:2, Om Søren Norby og hans baggrund, at p. 197.17/ Watson, Paul B., The Swedish Revolution Under Gustavus Vasa (Sampson Low, et al., London ,1889), p. 189 (reports fall of Kalmer Castle, 20 Jul 1525); Hofberg, Heurlin, Millqvist & Rubenson, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Mehlen, Berent von, p. 132 (2d ed., 1906), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/sbh/b0132.html> (reports fall of Kalmer Castle, 21 Jul 1525).
20/ Mats hemsida, Svenska Uppror, internet at <http://www.geocities.com/matshemsida/uppror/index.html> from Lars-Olof Larsson, "Gustav Vasa," Prisma at <www.prismabok.se>.
21/ Hofberg, et. al, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, at 189; Nordisk familjebok. 1800-talsutgåvan. 11. Militärkonventioner - Nådaval, Norby, Sören, at 1208-1209.
22/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 47 et seq.
Gösta Hasselöf, Klintebladet,
Norra Kustvägen 16 (2001)
24/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 56; Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 84.
25/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 56.
26/ Nordisk familjebok / 1800-talsutgåvan. 9., Lingen, Reinhold Johan von, p. 1401 (Stockholm: Gernandts boktryckeri-aktiebolag, 1885), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/nfai/0707.html>.
27/ See, New Encyclopedia, etc., Vol XXII, pp. 29-30 (London 1807), electronic republication at <http://books.google.com>; see also, Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History (1988), at 117 (following the Stockholm Bloodbath, “. . . still more beheadings bloodied the homeward journey of Kristian as he traveled south through Jönköping and Nydala - - the victims even included monks and children.”); Thomas Hall, Planning and Urban Growth in the Nordic Countries (E. & F. N. Spon, London 1991), p. 4 (the long history of wars “buttress negative attitudes between Denmark and Sweden - attitudes which affected the historiography into modern times and which persisted in the school books of both countries for a very long time.”)
28/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 83.
29/ See e.g., Hofberg, et. al, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, p. 189; and, Fryxell, The History of Sweden, pp. 55, 94. (These sources discuss Norby's objections and his providing of refuge to Swedish noblemen on his ships.)
29.1/ Fryxell, The History of Sweden, p. 150-51.
30/ Hugo Yrwing, En spionrapport om försvarsförhållandena på Gotland 1524 (Gotländskt arkiv 1986), ss 117 et seq., electronic edition at <http://www.hgo.se/bibliotek/arkiv/view.php?id=757> .
30.1/ Williams, The Historians' History of the World, vol. XVI, p. 271-74.
30.2/ Fryxell, The History of Sweden, p. 152.
30.3/ Thomas Esper, Slavic Review, Russia and the Baltic 1492-1558, Vol.25, No. 3. (Sep., 1966), p. 458, at p. 472 (citing Kölner Inventar, ed. Konstantin Höhlbaum (Leipzig, 1896)).
31/ See, Thomas Esper, Slavic Review, Russia and the Baltic 1492-1558, Vol.25, No. 3. (Sep., 1966), p. 458, at p. 472 (discusses Norby’s activity in Livonia and the Baltic region between 1526-28).
32/ Thomas Esper, Slavic Review, Russia and the Baltic 1492-1558, Vol. 25, No. 3. (Sep., 1966), at 472.
33/ E. Melefors & T. Siltberg, Sören Norbys räkenskapsbok för Gotland 1523-24, p.15, utgiven med inledning och register av Evert Melefors med skattehistorisk översikt av Tryggve Siltberg (Visby 2003); Hofberg, et. al, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, at 189; Nordisk familjebok. 1800-talsutgåvan. 11, Norby, Sören, at 1208-1209.
34/ E. Melefors & T. Siltberg, Sören Norbys räkenskapsbok för Gotland 1523-24, p.15; Hofberg, et. al, Svenskt biografiskt handlexikon, Norby, Sören, at 189; Nordisk familjebok. 1800-talsutgåvan. 11, Norby, Sören, at 1208-09.
Cambridge Modern History, Vol. 2, at 608; Colons, The
North, at 608; see also Scott, Sweden, The Nation's History,
at 131; David Brewster, LL.D, Compiler, The Edinburg Encylopædia
(1830), Vol. 7, p. 628.
[These histories present a balanced account of the vices and virtues of King Christian II. The King's virtues might appear to be outside the purview of this genealogy research note, however, they are relevant not just because they reflect how the King was perceived, but they shed some light on how his most loyal proponent, i.e., Sören Norby, was viewed. In terms of public perception, guilt by association is not peculiar to modern times, it is as old as recorded civilization.
The evil deeds of a tyrannical ruler never go unnoticed and unreported in the history books, while the good deeds of such a ruler may only receive scant mentioned. Fortunately, there are some histories which strive to provide a full and fair account of Christian II's reign. Brewster's compilation notes that while Christian II was tyrannical and oppressive, at the same time he:
The extent to
which Christian II's good deeds or
virtues might have enhanced the reputation of Sören Norby, his most
proponent, is unknown. It is guessed, not at all. It is ironic that
Christian II's uncle and sucessor, King Frederic, the historically
proclaimed good king, repealed the laws against robbing of shipwrecks;
and, bestowed on the nobles the unprecedented power of life
death over poor farmers, as well as the right
to confiscate all of their goods when they were perceived by
nobles to have acted illegally.]
36/ Olle Överby, Gotlänska släkter, internet at <http://hem.passagen.se/ollove/>.
37/ The Monthly Review, Works of Gustavus III, King of Sweden (London, R. Griffiths, 1805) p. 539, electronic republication at: <http://books.google.com>; see also, Eric Gustave Geijer, The History of the Swedes, p. 106.
38/ The Monthly Review, Works of Gustavus III, King of Sweden, p.539. See also, C. M. Butler, The Reformation in Sweden, p. 60 (Butler writes, "Norby was a brilliant sailor and soldier of fortune, who combined the characteristics of the old Vikings, of the Italian condottieri of the middle ages, and of the contemporary knights in Germany, who, . . . . . . , were accomplished scholars").
39/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 82-84; Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 47-58.
40/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 82-84 (reports the Sören Norby descendants "legend").
41/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 53.
42/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 82; see also C. J. Hallgren, Gotlänska Släkter (Visby, 1926), p. 380.
43/ Lagerlöf and Stolt, Rone kyrka, Volym 150, Av Sveriges Kyrkor, Konsthistoriskt Inventarium, p. 432 (Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell, 1973).
44/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 83; see also Hallgren, Gotlänska Släkter at 380 et seq. (reports that Bengt Norby and Pehr Bengtsson Norby's descendants owned Takstens).
45/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 49.
46/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 52.
47/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 52.
48/ See, Niels H. Kragh-Nielsen, Personalhistorisk Tidsskrift 2000:2, Om Søren Norby og hans baggrund, at p. 197 (Kristian II wanted Oluf to be brought up and schooled with Prince Hans who was born in 1518. From this it is inferred that Oluf was about the same age.)
49/ The History of Gustavus Vasa, King of Sweden, Extracts from His Correspondence (J. Murray, London, 1852), p. 98 (citing Loccenii, Hist. Suec., lib. vi., pp. 232, 233, reports that von Mehlen ". . . went up as Norby's guest to the castle, and became sponsor to his illigitimate son." (emphasis added)); Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 82 (gender of child not mentioned); but see, Bricka, Dansk biografisk Lexikon / XII, Norby, Søren, at 315 (refers to young daughter), (Kjøbenhavn: F. Hegel & Søn, 1898), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/dbl/12/0312.html>.
50/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 51.
51/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 51-52.
52/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 52.
53/ Starbäck & Bäckström, Berättelser ur svenska historien / Tredje bandet, Gustaf Wasa och hans söner, Severin Norby, pp.108-109 (1885), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/sverhist/3/0112.html>; see also, E. Melefors & T. Siltberg, Sören Norbys räkenskapsbok för Gotland 1523-24, p. 21.
54/ Church Records, Lärbro, Gotland, Sweden, Church Accountings, 1595-1732, LIA:1; Genline AB, Sweden image 2676.41.19400.
55/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 82.
56/ See, Niels H. Kragh-Nielsen, Personalhistorisk Tidsskrift 2000:2, Om Søren Norby og hans baggrund, at p. 197; Per Engstrom, untitled pedigree material, Ancestry World Tree Project, <http://awt.ancestry.com>, search for "Severin Norby," contact Per Engstrom <email@example.com>.
57/ Holger Frederik Rørdam, Kjøbenhavns Kirker og Klostre i Middelalderen, p. 274 (1859), republished by eremit.dk, electronic edition at <http://www.eremit.dk/ebog/kkkm/index.html>; Carl Frederik Bricka, Dansk biografisk Lexikon / XII. Bind. Münch - Peirup /, p. 34 (1898), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/dbl/12/0036.html>; Carl Frederik Bricka, Dansk biografisk Lexikon / IV. Bind. Clemens - Eynden /, Elisabeth (Isabella), 1501-26, p. 494 at 495 (1887-1905), republished by Project Runeberg, electronic edition at <http://runeberg.org/dbl/4/0496.html>; E. Melefors & T. Siltberg, Sören Norbys räkenskapsbok för Gotland 1523-24, p.15 (in 1529, Oluf’s educator described him as wild and unruly).
58/ Lotte Jensen, Gotländska präster genom tiderna etc., online at <http://web.telia.com/~u49821923/>.
59/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 54; but see, Rötters Anbytarforum, Mats Carlin, et al (6 Dec 2003) (according to Mats Carlin, Per Bengtsson Norby is listed as a student at Köpenhams universitet in 1614) at <http://aforum.genealogi.se/discus/messages/44/28077.html?1070692968/>.
60/ Rosman, Sören Norbys ätlingar, at 83.
61/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 55-56.
62/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 53-55.
63/ Sundberg, Sören Norrby - Anfadern, at 56-57.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids