Beginning in the 1800s people in Denmark began to use fixed surnames that were used from one generation to the next. Sweden ended the use of the patronymic naming system in 1901, Finland in 1921, and Norway in 1923. Iceland still uses patronymic names.
Patronymic surnames are based on the father's first name. The last name changed with each generation.
For example, John Andersson’s son Sven was named Sven Johnsson. John's daughter Ane was named Ane Johnsdatter. Different endings were used in different countries. Denmark and Norway usually used -sen and -datter, Sweden used -sson and -dotter, and Iceland uses -son and -dóttir. Surnames in Finland varied in the west and east. In the west patronymic surnames were commonly used, and were recorded with either Swedish or Finnish endings, -sson or -poika for boys and -dotter and -tytär for girls. People in eastern Finland used family surnames.
Scandinavian records may also include a person's place of residence (farm name) or occupation with the name, to help distinguish one person from another with the same name.
If a person lived during the time when patronymic naming was used, please follow these guidelines when entering the name into Family Tree.
Patronymic last names
- In the Last Names field, enter just the patronymic last name. Do not include farm names or occupations.
- If the last name was abbreviated on the record, spell it out. For example, enter Ane Andersdr. as Ane Andersdatter.
Enter farm names as part of the event place-name, not as part of the last name. Farms or villages should be entered as the first, or smallest locality.
Enter occupations in the Other Information section, not as part of the last name.
For more information
For more details about specific naming systems in each country, please visit the FamilySearch Wiki: