Scandinavia Names

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Patronymic Naming System[edit | edit source]

The patronymic naming system was used in all of Scandinavia. That means a Scandinavian's family name was formed by taking the first name of the natural father and adding sen, son, sson, søn, datter, dotter, or dottir to it. A person named Johannes Augustsen was literally "Johannes, the son of August." Maria Pedersdatter was literally, "Maria, the daughter of Peder." Because of this system, there could be many people living in the same place at the same time with the same surnames who were completely unrelated.

For most of us, the patromymic naming system is different from what we're used to. However, it was the best system for the time and the culture, since just a few names, among them Jens, Lars, Peder, Ole, Anders, and their derivations, were used 90 percent of the time. With the patronymic system, at least the first name of the previous generation was known. Historically, Danish and Norwegian patronymic surnames often ended with the suffix -sen for males and -datter for females, while Swedish patronymic surnames were more likely to end with -sson for males and -dotter for females.

Scandinavian females did not assume the surname (family name) of their husbands when they married. They carried their maiden surname throughout their life in the records. If you find an Ole Pedersen and a Synnova Pedersdatter having a child, she is not "Mrs. Ole Pedersen" in the traditional American sense. The record simply means that Ole was the son of a "Peder" somebody, and Synnova was the daughter of a "Peder" somebody.

Record keepers recorded what their ears heard, and spelled what they heard the way they thought it should be spelled. You have to think phonetically when doing any kind of search in any country's records.

Denmark[edit | edit source]

See Denmark Personal Names.

Finland[edit | edit source]

See Finland Personal Names.

Iceland[edit | edit source]

See Iceland Personal Names.

Norway[edit | edit source]

See Norway Personal Names.

Sweden[edit | edit source]

See Sweden Personal Names.

Given Names[edit | edit source]

For more information first names/given names, see the article Scandinavian Given Names.