Week 3 – ‘Unusual Name’

Lene Bolton, 25 January 2019
Name:Anne Øvlisdatter
Birth:1773 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage:23/10/1794 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse:Niels Jacobsen 
Death:28/7/1847 – Malling, Ning, Århus

Coming from a Danish farming background it is almost impossible to find an unusual name. 

Going back in time, it would be very unusual to have a family name not ending in -sen or -datter. The endings specified son of or daughter of and then the father’s first name. It wasn’t until the middle 1800s everyone started to have the same family name as the father. 

To confuse things even further, in the country it was custom to name the first boy after his mother’s father and the second boy after the father’s father. The girls were named accordingly after their grandmothers except in one situation. If the mother was a second wife, her first daughter was named after the deceased first wife. 

I have many situations of a person for instance Jens Hansen who is followed by Hans Jensen who again is followed by Jens Hansen and so on. In addition, there was not a lot of imagination used when naming subsequent children. It could be after an aunt or uncle and in this way the same names repeat over and over again. 

It was not unusual in the 17- and 1800s for children to die within the first year and often within the first month. If the child had to be named Maren after the above unwritten naming rules, and that baby died, the next female child would be named Maren and so on until a ‘Maren’ survived to adulthood.

Starting with my grandparents and going back 3 generations for each, that equals fifteen people per grandparent. Multiply that by four I have sixty ancestors to choose from. For fun I counted how often a first name appeared in those 60 and I came up with:

  • 9 – Ane/Ana/Anne/Anna
  • 7 – Maren
  • 5 – Karen
  • 6 – Niels
  • 4 – Hans

That is 31, over half of these sixty ancestors have one of these five names. Then add the second name of Hansen or Nielsen etc. and it becomes hard to track all these people and their siblings without getting anyone mixed up.

Crest of the Øvli Clan

It was therefore with great glee I spotted an ‘Øvlisen’ among my ancestors. This name is rare and most, if not all, who carries the name Øvli/Øvle can be traced back to a farmer who in 1510 was the first to become free of bonding to the district Lord. The family can be traced further still, but the previous two generations were contracted to the Lord.

“Veilgaard” 1421 -2012, Ancestry Farm of the Øvle Clan

“Veilgaard” no longer belongs to the family, however, the Øvli Clan got permission from the new owners to place this large boulder near the road to mark the birthplace of the Family. The village of Malling is situated midway up the east coast of Jutland near the large city of Århus.

One thought on “Week 3 – ‘Unusual Name’”

  1. While researching my Danish side of the family and being born Australian, I was overwhelmed that earlier on no one had a common surname, how would I know who I was related to? The Danish are fantastic the way they keep records, I was soon to find in Parish records the parents and the grandparents names. I was named after my great grandmother Ane Marie although my mother said it was after Princess Anne – Marie but she dropped the e on the Ann so that in Australia I would not be called Annie, which I was anyway. My sister took on my grandmothers name Jella and my brother took on my great grand fathers name Peder. I always wondered where the names came from.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s