My Ancestry

Inspired by Karin Bojs’s and Peter Sjölund’s recent book Svenskarna och deras fäder, I’ve looked into my ancestry by means both genetic and genealogical. Here’s a few highlights.

  • Like most Stockholmers, I’m of mixed rural Swedish stock. My great grandpa’s generation contains 16 people born mainly in the 1880s. Only one of them was born in Stockholm. His parents were born in Värmland and Södermanland provinces. The other 15 were born all over rural southern Sweden: Bohuslän (two people), Småland (two people), Södermanland, Skåne and Närke. They went to Stockholm to find work, met and got married.
  • My Y chromosome is type R1b-M269, which is the second-most common one in Sweden and the most common one in Western Europe. My closest modern matches form dense clusters in England and New England. There’s clearly an Englishman in my recent pedigree, most likely in the 15th or 16th centuries judging from a combination of genetic statistics and genealogy. In the mid-1600s my paternal line was already in Värmland with Swedish names.
  • My mitochondrial DNA is the very common type H with my closest modern matches clustering in Finland. This means that my maternal line points east to a very great grandma in West Asia about 25,000 years ago. Of Europe’s three original major population components, this would represent the Ancient North Eurasians.
  • I found the first Rundkvist! In the 1800s a lot of rural Swedes quit using the patronymic and took family names instead. My grandpa’s grandpa Johan Jansson (1853-1925) took the name Rundkvist and moved to Stockholm from Fryksdalen in Värmland. His brother Magnus Jansson instead chose Söderqvist for some reason.
  • Update 14 March: Aard regular Lassi pointed out something enlightening. Parts of modern Sweden saw state-sponsored immigration from Finland in the decades around 1600. This is the simplest explanation for why I have a Finnish maternal line. Its earliest member known to me, Helena Helgesdotter, was born near Gothenburg in 1775.
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They Moved To The City And Found Someone To Marry

My personal genealogy has never interested me much, knowing as I do that the number of ancestors multiplies by a factor of two with each generation. Thus in AD 1800 someone born in 1975 had about 2^8=256 ancestors of child-bearing age (or slightly fewer if someone has been productive in more than one slot on the diagram). Finding out that a historical figure contributed 1/256 to my genetics and social heritage would not make them all that much more interesting to me.

I draw the line at three generations back, with people that are still remembered. In my case they illustrate an interesting and well-known trend in people’s mobility in Sweden over the past century.

  • Generation 1. Eight people born c. 1890 in counties Kalmar (two people who do not join up), Bohus (two people who do not join up), Örebro, Malmöhus, Södermanland and Stockholm.
  • Generation 2. Four people born c. 1915 in counties Stockholm (3) and adjacent Södermanland.
  • Generation 3. Two people born in c. 1943 in Stockholm county.
  • Generation 4. Myself born 1972 in Stockholm county.

Look how they all move to Stockholm in 1910 and get married to someone from a county they’re unlikely to ever have visited before! This is why Stockholm people have no roots. The only genuine ethnic tradition that survives in my family is an infrequent goose feast on Saint Martin’s Day, passed down from the guy from Malmöhus in generation 1. He was a cabinet maker and we’ve got one of his pieces of work in the dining room.