Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gunhild, Gunnil & Gurina

The letter G provides three names that show up in my Norwegian branch of the family tree. Gunhild, Gunnil and Gurina are all variations on the Old Norse Gunnhildr - meaning "battle or war maiden." Variations in Sweden and Norway are Gunhilda, Gunnhild, and Gurine. The meaning and variations are found at Nordic Names. We have 3 women named Gunhild, 1 named Gunnil and 5 named Gurina in our family tree.

I like this name and it is actually quite fitting in the case of Gunnil Haagensdatter, my 4th great-grandmother. I remember when I found the entries in the bygdebok (Norwegian farm book), the church records and 1801 Norway census while researching at the Family History Library. I took the scans up to the Scandinavian desk and asked the consultant to translate the notes I found in both the church records and the census (since I don't speak Norwegian). It seems that Gunnil got pregnant by the cavalryman (Peder Pedersen) assigned to her town/village. Since it was his first transgression, he was not required to acknowledge or provide for the child (I am glad that times have changed!).

There is a paragraph about the witnesses who testified as to who they thought the father was and why. As a result, Peder was named as the father on the birth/baptism register (and everyone knew your business!). Peder later went on to later marry and raise a family, all of which is found in the bygdebok. Gunnil did not remain in her village but moved away and raised her son on her own (I still need to find out information about her family - add that to my to-do list). She must have had to be a strong woman or  "war maiden." It could not have been easy to have this information published in the church records and to have her son Peder listed as her illegitimate child on the census. I do appreciate the honesty of the records, knowing that Gunnil made a life for herself and her son, and that he went on to marry and have a family of his own - life happens!

See you back here tomorrow for the letter H!

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