#52ancestors: I’d like to meet

This weeks contribution to the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks Challenge: I’d like to meet. I would actually like to meet all my ancestors. Choosing one for this challenge I decided on my 8th Great Grandfather Jens Nielsen Nedrebø. He was the Great Grandson of Crispinus Johannesen that I wrote about in my last article.

Jens Nielsen Nedrebø was born April 19th, 1627 in Jølster, Sogn og Fjordane county. He was the son of Nils Andersen Nedrebø and Brite Jacobsdatter. He was a farmer at the Nedrebø farm. In addition, he was the sheriff (lensmann) of Jølster.

What makes Jens special is that he kept a diary and it turns out that he did not only write about day-to-day things he experienced. He had access to a book collection that he obviously studied and used his diary to comment on. His probate records show that his estate owned at least 50 books.  I can very well relate to his curiosity about the world around him. Having been an avid reader all my life, I often find special topics that fascinate me.

Boat on the lake Jølster Axel Lindahl [Public domain, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Snippets of Jens’ diary are presented in the bygdebok “Soga om Jølst” (1967) by Albert Joleik. Also, Norwegian historian Yngve Nedrebø has made a transcription of the diary and made it available on the internet. Both my citing from the diary and the comments about it is taken from Nedrebø’s work.

Among the things Jens wrote about was the Muslim world. He calls this segment “About the Turk” and he covers central points of the Muslim religion.

From what seems to be the same book as he had read about the Muslim world, Jens goes on to relay a Jewish fable about a quarrel between Adam and “his first wife” Lilith. Lillith claims to be Adams equal. This is a story that is known from Jewish mythology (Wikipedia).

Still, from the same source, Jens Nielsen writes about the Jewish faith.

The source where Jens found this information, may have been the book “Compendium Cosmographie” (About Cosmos). This book is mentioned in the records when his estate was probated.

From an “East-Indian Travel guide” Jens writes down a long list of Malayan words. Jens seems to have been fascinated with foreign languages as he also writes about the Finnish and Greek languages.

Jens also wrote about the things he experienced himself. This was a major event like when the Norwegian chancellor Ove Bjelke rode through Jølster on the 27th of June 1662. Jens was then a lay judge and thus a prominent person in the area, so he might have been among those who presumably greeted the chancellor. We know that Jens was a lay judge and was installed March 30th, 1653, because this is one of the things he mentions in his diary. He also writes that he April 28 1677 was installed as sheriff (lensmann) in Jølster. He had this position until he died.

From February 23rd, 1702 Jens noted in his diary that a wolf killed his dog. Jens tells about river floodings taking place both in 1662 and in 1686. Also, avalanches taking place in the early 1680s.

The Great Comet of 1680 over Rotterdam by Lieve Verschuier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most fascinating events Jens Nielsen Nedrebø began December 18th, 1680. he writes (my translation) “(On this day) a large star became visible in the sky to the southwest. It had a long beam of light that stretched all the way across the horizon. The star was visible until Kyndelsmesse (Candlemass February 2nd) 1681”

This light must have frightened the people of Jølster, maybe thinking it was a sign of the end times. Jens ends his recording of this event with “Jesus Christ, the son of God, have mercy on us poor sinners. Amen in the name of Jesus, Amen Amen”

The light he saw was probably the C/1680 V1, also called the Great Comet of 1680, Kirch’s Comet, and Newton’s Comet The comet was discovered by Gottfried Kirch on 14 November 1680, New Style, and became one of the brightest comets of the 17th century – reputedly visible even in daytime – and was noted for its spectacularly long tail (Wikipedia).

Jens also writes about his wife “1649, the 23rd of September, my wedding was celebrated on Nedrebø (farm) with my beloved woman Briete Larsisdatter Løsetter. God give happiness and blessings”

Man in an old costume from Jølster. Colored photo by Marcus Selmer 1862 – 1866 Digitalt museum Public domain (CC PDM)

Jens writes about several of his family members, giving us far more vital information than we normally find in this timeframe.

Jens also writes about other families and records events like births, weddings, and deaths of many people from Jølster. Those of his records that have been possible to compare with other sources, seems to be accurate.

Brite and Jens had, as far as I know, 6 children. My 7th Great Grandfather was their son Nils born ca 1670. 

Jens was 77 years old when he died in 1704. This is also recorded in the diary, obviously written by one of his children. August 26th, 1706 Brite Larsdatter died. She was also 77 years old when she passed away.




Yngve Nedrebø Lensmannsdagboka Digitalarkivet http://digitalarkivet.uib.no/sab/bergensposten/lensmann.htm

3 thoughts on “#52ancestors: I’d like to meet

  • January 27, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Fascinating! So interesting to learn about someone fascinated and aware of languages far from Norway plus family members, reading, experiences, the comet. His writing skill and world interests are great sources og information. Thanks for sharing Jens.

  • January 27, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    Yes! So fascinating. He must have been quite a scholar to even be able to read and write. But the details are amazing and give such a picture of his emotions and lifestyle during his time. Lucky you to have such a wonderful resource from your family.


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