Hylbom Surname Origins

A question I wish I knew the answer to:  Where did the name “Hylbom” come from?

HYLBOM is a Swedish name, and it is exceptionally rare.  As far as I know, anyone in the world with this surname is related to me, and I have always wondered where the name came from.  My conclusions are by no means definite and future research could prove otherwise, but the best explanation I’ve been able to find through my research is that the name originates at a Swedish estate called Hylinge in the late 17th century.

Hylinge NorrkopingHylinge is  located in Söderköpings municipality, between Söderköping and Linkoping, in Western Husby church.  This places it approximately 20 kilometers south of Norrköping.  The place has been known since the 1300s, and the mansion that presently occupies the site dates from about 1788.  The main building was probably designed by Olof Tempelman, possibly in collaboration with Erik Palmstedt.  The builder was Anders Sundström of Nyköping.  A stone house from 1600-century remains as a wing to the existing main building.  At the estate there is a small lake, parts of 3 larger lakes and marshland.  About 50% of the area contains meadows and fields, and the rest is mostly coniferous forest.    Today, the estate is used as a hunting club, with a target shooting range and also a golf course operated by “Söderköpings Golfklubb”.

In the late 17th century, Swedish names were typically patronymic (refer to the article on Swedish Naming Customs), and family surnames were relatively uncommon.  However, one group that is known to have taken surnames that passed from generation to generation in some cases were members of the Swedish military services.  I got a clue to the origin of the Hylbom name from an article I found in Swedish published in Norrköpings Tidningar in 2009.  The article concerned three different museums for agricultural tools and textiles that have been established at Hylinge by Tore and Ann-Marie Folkesson, the current residents.   Members of this family have lived at Hylinge for generations.  Tore’s father, Folke Johansson, was responsible for building the Häradshammars bygdegård (district community center), where he was chairman for several years before he died in 1954, at just 49 years of age.  Tore Folkesson has also served as chairman of the community center and is now responsible for the “Vikbolandsarkivet” (Vikboland archives) in Kuddby.  These archives preserve the history of Hylinge Oppgårds, Häradshammars and Vikboland.  He has extensive material about the different generations of people on the farm at Hylinge, as well as the Häradshammar history from the 1250s onwards.  Over the centuries kings have come and gone, and Hylinge has been a peaceful place.  However, Hylinge was touched by world events through the system known as Rusthållare, which was a phenomenon within the Swedish Allotment System (Indelningsverket), i.e., the system of organizing and financing the Swedish armed forces in earlier times.  The system replaced earlier systems and was introduced in about 1680 King Charles XI, reformed again in 1812 and finally replaced with a national compulsory draft in 1901-1904.  Before the reforms, soldiers of the same company generally stemmed from the same village and region.  The Allotment System enabled Sweden to build up a sizable military force to defend Sweden’s many borders, while also cutting the costs for maintaining the large number of military units.

Charles XI at the Battle of Lund in 1676. Charles XI introduced the new Allotment System. (Painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, 1682).

Charles XI at the Battle of Lund in 1676. Charles XI introduced the new Allotment System. (Painting by David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, 1682).

The system worked something like this:  The enlisted Cavalry soldier, called a hussar, had to make a voluntary contract for his salary between the State and a person called the Rusthållare, who was a land-owner and farmer.  The salary was regulated through this contract by the Rotemåstaren, local landowners who acted as the overseer, representing both the rote (unit) and the troops. The rotemåstaren signed the contract and sent it to the Army for confirmation by the Captain of the Company.  The cavalry company was formed from the local area Rotes. Each rote consisted of about ten men, and these were added together to form squadons and companies.  The rusthållare was required to pay the soldier’s wages and outfit him with a good horse and all his equipage, plus provide him with a croft or ryttartorp (a small farm).  When the soldier was not mobilized for active duty, he had to work for the rusthållare, his sponsor, on his farm, and the rusthållare would pay the hussar some kind of daily wage.  The rusthållare were generally those of the noble class or wealthy farmers.  As part of the agreement that they provide for at least one hussar (cavalry soldier) and pay his wages, the Crown rewarded the rusthållaren farmers by having their taxes reduced or exempted.  Under this system, the cavalryman was known as a ryttare.

When a man entered into military service in Sweden, it was often the case that he would take on a new surname. This was necessary to avoid the confusion of having multiple men serving together by the exact same name.  For example, how would a man named Olof Olofsson know when his name was called when there are 5 others by the same name?  Some names were passed on for generations, although many children of soldiers chose to use their patronymic surname, based upon their father’s given name instead.  This was the case well into the 19th century.

Apparently, through this system, two men by the name of Hylman and Hylbom were recruited from the Hylinge estate in Charles XII’s wars against Russia in the late 17th century.  I have no way of knowing if these men were related, or why they would choose to adopt a surname at this time, but that seems to be what happened, and it was not uncommon for soldiers to do so.  Perhaps further research into the local history archives would provide more facts regarding the elusive men known as Hylman and Hylbom.

The Battle of Poltava in 1709, drawing by Denis Martens (1726)

The Battle of Poltava in 1709, drawing by Denis Martens (1726)

The Allotment System was put to the test for the first time in 1700, when Sweden, under the reign of King Charles XII, was attacked by a coalition of its neighbors, Russia, Denmark-Norway and Saxony-Poland, in the “Great Northern War”, which effectively ended with the Swedish defeat in the Battle of Poltava on 8 Jul 1709, though Charles continued to pose a military threat to Russia for several years while under the protection of the Ottoman Turks.  Since the earliest Hylbom ancestor I have been able to identify, Nils Andersson Hylbom, wasn’t born until 1716, it is probable that the first Hylbom was his father, whose name may have been Anders Håkansson (1678-1744).

I cannot prove my hypothesis, which has a basis in family tradition, but perhaps these speculations can serve as a starting point for research in the primary sources, presumably located in this area of Sweden, which would provide documentary evidence one way or the other.  If there was a man who took the name Hylbom upon recruitment into Charles’ cavalry, surely some record of the fact would exist.  Others may have already discovered the evidence I seek, but I have yet to learn of it.



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