John Hjersman 2014-03-08

John’s ancestors came from Sweden. The surname Hjersman is extremely rare in Sweden. John wants to know the meaning of the name “Hjersman”.

Here is what he has heard so far:

“Our family comes from a parish in Sweden named Hjersås. Hjers is an old Swedish word for deer. Hjersås = A ridge of deers”. (Family lore).

“Hjersman has something to do with wood. Most likely the folks in Hjersås made things from wood. Name unchanged from Viking days”. (Linguists in Stockholm).

“Hjersman means fence builder. In Viking days fences were built by surveyors building wood fences to indicate property lines”. (A client from Norway).

“Hjersman is an old Viking name. Meaning unknown”. (Swedish Chief Steward on SS President Van Buren).

I will separate the questions:

  1. What is the meaning of the word Hjersman and
  2. Why does the family have the name Hjersman

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1 What is the meaning with the name Hjersman?

I do not know the meaning of the name. We might have to look for clues in Denmark to which the area of Hjersås and Vinslöv belonged until the Roskilde Peace Treaty in 1658. The name “Hjärsås” was spelled “Hiärzaas” in 1426. “aa” in Danish corresponds to “å” in Swedish. So the second part of the word is “ridge”. The first part may contain “hjort” i.e. “deer” but there are different opinions on this theory (Mats Wahlberg, editor. Svenskt ortnamnslexikon. Uppsala: Institutet för språk och folkminnen. Libris 8998039. ISBN 91-7229-020-X.

The linguists in Stockholm probably knew of the fact that this area belongs to the “Kingdom of wood”. There are large deciduous forests, protected by the Swedish crown in order to be used for building warships. Later they have been used for making furniture and there are hundreds of companies in this area doing woodwork.

I do not know if a Hjersman is a fence builder in Norway. It sounds as if the guy from Norway is mixing this word up with variants of the Swedish word “Gärsgård” which is a modern variant of “Gärdsgård” which in turn was “Gärdesgård” i.e. a fence around a field. We have found remains of “Gärdesgårdar” in Sweden from the 14th century and they probably have been used much longer since they can be built entirely without any special tools.

I do not think there were any surveyors during the Viking era and I am sure even if there were, they would not build fences. Gärdesgårdar have always been built by the land owners. A long time ago to prevent domestic animals from destroying crops, nowadays to show property lines or just to have something nice to look at (Encl 1).

2 Why does the family have the name Hjersman?

I found John´s family tree on and I could see that his grandfather, Carl Johan Hjersman, was born in Lindhult in Loshult parish 1873-11-09. I then went to Arkiv Digital to find the family in the Household Examination Records (HER). Carl Johan´s father, Per Hjersman, was born 1830-08-13 in Vinslöv, a parish not very far from Hjersås (Encl 2-3). Per was born in Wanneberga No 12 in Vinslöv. According to his Birth Record (BR) his father was Crofter Per Hjersman and his mother was Bolla Persdotter (Encl 4).

We find the family living at Wanneberga, Vinslöv 1826-1831. Here we can see that the father, Per Hjersman, was born 1768-09-19 in Hierseke (Encl 5). In the birth records for Vinslöv 1768 we find that: “On September 25th the son, Per, of Cavalryman Hans Hiersman in Hierseke and his wife Elna Larsdotter, was baptized. The son Per was born on the 19th of September” (Encl 6). We find the family 1772 in Hierseke. This is a small place where five families lived at the time. Cavalryman Hans Hiersman was born 1746 in January. His wife, Elna Larsdotter, was born 1734 (Encl 7).

Since Hans Hiersman was a cavalryman I then went to “Soldatregistret”, i.e. the “Soldier´s index” (Encl 8). I entered “Hiersman” and “born 1746” and I found him immediately. He was born 1746-01-00 (they use 00 when the exact day of birth is not known) (Encl 9). He started as Cavalryman 1767 and left 1807, i.e. he served for 40 years. He died 1828-05-29. He served in Sandby Company, Vinslöv parish in “Skånska Husarregementet” representing the Järseke 1 military district in Vinslöv. “Husar” is a “Cavalryman”. Hans Hiersman´s family name was “Persson” (Encl 10).

Clicking the button “Övriga soldater vid rote/rusthåll” returns a new list of Cavalrymen. There we find a Per Hiersman representing the same Soldier croft SH-08-0033 as Hans Hiersman (Encl 11). Clicking on him we find that he was born in Sept 1715 and that he died 1758-02-12. He was accepted as a Cavalryman 1737. He represented Järseke 1, Vinslöv and he was with the Sandby Company in Skånska Husarregementet and lived at the same place in Hierseke as later Hans Hiersman did (Encl 12).

We find the family in Hierseke 1750. Per Hiersman is the father of Hans Hiersman! Per is born in September 1715 in Herlöf (today Härlöv) which is another parish in Kronobergs län, Småland. His wife is Bengta Olsdotter b. 1721 in April in Hålabäck, Vinslöv. Hans has two siblings, Ola b. 1741 in May in Hierseke, Vinslöv, and Hanna b. 1749 in Sept in Hierseke, Vinslöv (Encl 13).

So, Hjersås was not the parish the family lived in when they first started to use the surname Hjersman. They lived in Vinslöv when Per Hiersman was accepted as Cavalryman 1737. His surname before he was accepted 1737 is not known in the Soldier´s Index. He was born in Härlöv but he lived at a place called Hierseke in Vinslöv. It was the norm those days that a soldier´s name reflected the name of the place (normally a croft, financed by 10-20 farms nearby) where he lived.

Hiersman and Hjersman is the same name. It is just a matter of spelling changes over time. The conclusion is that Hjersman is a military name being used in the family from at least 1737.

If there is a separate meaning with “Hjers” or “Hiers” I do not know. But it could be a variant of “Horse” since he obviously was a “Horseman”. (Just speculating).

1 Gärdesgård. Picture
2 HER Loshult AI:13 (1872-1881) Image 234 / page 255
3 HER Loshult AI:12 (1866-1871) Image 220 / page 231
4 BR Vinslöv CI:6 (1823-1848) Image 67 / page 127
5 HER Vinslöv AI:7 (1826-1831) Image 83 / page 78
6 BR Vinslöv CI:4 (1768-1803) Image 10 / page 5
7 HER Vinslöv AI:1 (1750-1802) Image 1220 / page 223
8 Centrala Soldatregistret. Home page
9 Centrala Soldatregistret. Search for Hans Hjersman
10 Centrala Soldatregistret. Hans Hjersman´s act
11 Centrala Soldatregistret. Other soldiers within the parish
12 Centrala Soldatregistret. Per Hiersman´s act
13 HER Vinslöv AI:1 Ver:a (1750-1802) Image 200 / page 19

Kjell S Andersson 2014-02-24