Polman, Påhlman, von Pohlmann family
It is said that the family came from the parish of Hille, in the county of Ravensberg, Westphalia, where there was a noble family Polman, who in the coat of arms carried an arm, holding a ring. According to legend, 12 brothers are said to have settled in different countries. Jürgen Polman the Elder, who performed in Livonia at the end of the 16th century, was of this family. His son, Jöran Polman the Younger, eventually settled in Sweden and whose sons were knighted by Queen Christina with the name Påhlman under No. 501. In addition to Jöran the Younger, Jürgen had the sons Claus, Henrik Johan and Fredrik. From one of these descends the family branch von Pohlmann, which was registered at the Knights’ House in Reval, Estonia under No. 112.
This story quite possibly begins in the 16th century on a farm, owned by the Pohlmans1Gustaf Elgenstierna, The Genealogies of the Introduced Swedish Nobility, Vol. 29 (1995-1997): 53, https://sok.riksarkivet.se/sbl/Presentation.aspx?id=7430, accessed: 21 March 2022 in a parish called Hille in Westphalia, Germany.2Palmskiöld, Adelsvapen Wiki https://www.adelsvapen.com/genealogi/ Påhlman_nr_501, accessed: 17 March 2022 and https://www.riddarhuset.se/blog/att/ pahlman/, accessed: 17 Mar 2022 Herman Pohlman and his family, likely of noble ancestry, were buried in the church cemetery. Captain Jürgen Polman the Elder was a descendant of the Pohlmans, and his ancestors were to be found in what is present-day Estonia in the late 16th and 17th centuries.
At the time, the country was ruled, occupied and fought over by several powers, including Germany, Russia, Denmark and Sweden, with native Estonians pushing back against foreign rule upon occasion. German was the main administrative language in certain places such as Reval, known today as Tallinn;3The name Reval was used for seven centuries after the Danish conquest of the city in 1219, until 1918. The region was historically called Livonia, home to the Livonians, comprising parts of present-day Latvia and Estonia. but eventually, it was Sweden that gained the strongest control of—and united—the region.
“Pärnu, Tartu and Narva fell at various stages to the Russians during the [Livonian] war, but as the Swedes had seized Tallinn in 1561, they were able to hold on to it, and by the end of the war they controlled not only Estonia but the whole Baltic Sea […] From a twenty-first century perspective, it is easy to forget that Sweden was once a large empire controlling much of Northern Europe. […] King Gustavus Adolphus remarked that ‘the Russians will find it difficult to skip over that little brook.’”4Neil Taylor, Estonia: A Modern History (London: Hurst and Company, 2018)
Sweden retained its power through the 17th century, often referred to as the “golden era” or “the good old Swedish times (vana hea Rootsi aeg),”5Emma Long, “The History of Swedish Influence in Estonia, The Baltic Times, March 4, 2021 https://www.baltictimes.com/the_history_of_swedish_influence_in_ estonia/ though Russian accounts disagreed. These phrases were probably used nostalgically after Russia’s rise to power in the region.
Hans Polman was a county clerk in Padise, a historically significant parish known for the ruins of a 14th century monastery,6Padise monastery was partially destroyed during the St. George’s Night rebellion on 23 April 1343—a peasant uprising against Danish rulers—and served as a fortress during the Livonian War in 1558. It was eventually seized by Sweden, turned into a manor, hit by several fires, and restored only in the 20th century. located in the vicinity of Tallinn. His son Jürgen7Otto Magnus von Stackelberg, Genealogical Handbook of the Estonian Knighthood, Vol. 1 (Görlitz, 1931) (German: Genealogisches Handbuch der estländischen Ritterschaft); Jürgen was also referred to as Goran Polman the Elder. was born in the mid- to late 16th century. The name “Pohlman” was not uncommon in the region, though spellings may have differed; for instance, “Poll- man” was of German origin and meant “bald man”, and “Pohlman” in German or Dutch sometimes referred to those living in grassy or swampy regions. The coat of arms associated with this line of the family depicted an arm on a yellow-gold background, armoured in grey and holding a cannonball;8The arm is holding a bullet or ball but the Swedish description is two words for the same thing—a cannonball. above this, a helmet, and an oak twig with three acorns rising upward, nestled between a pair of wings9Rosell, Johan, Magnus Bäckmark, Claes G. Ellehag, Kaj Janzon, and Gabriel Hildebrand. 2019. Riddarhusets vapensköldar Band 1 Band 1.—perhaps symbolic of potential and prosperity.
Jürgen’s first wife was Anna Wesell, and he later married Gertrud von Bremen. His son Jöran10Also called Jürgen/Goran the Younger was born in 1597. A year later, Jürgen bought the manor Pigant (Piigandi), but he couldn’t hold on to it for long, and it was confiscated. Located in the Kannapäh parish of Estonia, which comprised a total of 20 manors, 11“Estonian Manors,” http://www.mois.ee/english/parish/kanepi.shtml / http:// www.mois.ee/english/laane/tuudi.shtml Piigandi was a “knight manor” established in the 16th century and is today a residential building. Manors chiefly produced grain that was exported, and the region was sometimes referred to as “Sweden’s breadbasket”.12“1558-1710, Estonia under Swedish rule: Agrarian conditions,” Estonica. org, http://www.estonica.org/en/History/1558-1710_Estonia_under_Swedish_rule/ Agrarian_conditions/
At the turn of the 17th century, Jürgen Polman went into the service of the Duke of Södermanland13November 20, 1600., who was proclaimed as King Karl IX of Sweden in 1600. Jürgen became the captain of Anzen (Anstla) in 1601. In 1604, Karl IX granted Jürgen parts of Sääksmäki parish in Finland—known for its manors and medieval stone church—as a reward for his loyal service, which he held till 1619. In 1613, Jürgen was the commander of Padise, his hometown.
He was briefly pledged the Estonian knight manor Tuttomäggi (Tuudi) in the parish of Karusen in 1615 by its heirs, but this too slipped away. However, in 1624, he received as a grant, and in 1631 as a donation, the estate and manor of Oethel (Öötla) in St. Petri parish that he was more successful in retaining—when he died in or before 1641, his widow Gertrud was allowed to keep Oethel.14Gustaf Elgenstierna, The Genealogies of the Introduced Swedish Nobility (1925-36)
Like his father, Jöran Polman the Younger joined the military and rose through the ranks in the Kronoberg regiment. In 1623, he became captain of the Kronoberg regiment, and married Christina Lilliesparre15Daughter of Olof Jöransson Lilliesparre (af Fylleskog, no. 44) and Christina Gunnarsdotter Galle (in Sweden, no. 162) of Sweden. In 1629, he was promoted to chief quartermaster, and eventually held the rank of major.
Jöran received some farms in the hamlet of Sunnerbo district from King Gustaf II Adolf in 1626, and made an unsuccessful request for Tuttomäggi—the manor coveted by his father—in 1628. However, through marriage, he was fortunate enough to become the owner of the Swedish manor Ugglansryd, located in Ryssby in Kronoberg, Småland, which was until then owned by the Lilliesparre family. Though he died abroad before 1648, Jöran was buried in the sacristy of the Ryssby church.
Ugglansryd was a scenic location by all accounts, situated by a lake and surrounded by islets that were alleged remnants of a grand endeavour:
An old legend tells that the peninsula and the islets are remnants of an ancient colossal bridge building, which was started by an owner of Ugglansryd to connect this with the neighbouring farm Stensnäs. According to the saga, he must have made a bet with another nobleman living in the area, who was thinking of building a church for the parish, that he would complete the bridge in as short a time as the neighbour built his church. […] Soon, however, the bridge-builder noticed that he was falling short, for the depths of the lake devoured all the rock masses he threw out of it. With resentment, he was therefore forced to cease the giant company, and a long headland and a few small islets are the still visible witnesses in the company’s range.16Erik Åkerhielm, Smälandska Fideikommis (1904)
To understand the history of Ugglansryd and the family’s nearly two centuries there, it’s best to start at the beginning.
Originally a farm that was owned by the church during the Middle Ages, Ugglansryd passed to the Crown, and in the 1550s was in the possession of King Gustav Vasa— founder of Sweden as an independent kingdom after it seceded from the Kalmar Union that had joined it with Denmark and Norway as a single monarchy. Ugglansryd was then leased to the Galle and Lilliesparre families, and converted into a manor, coming into the ownership of Major Jöran Polman in 1623. Perhaps Ugglansryd brought good fortune to the family, for a couple of decades later, Jöran’s sons would be knighted, marking the family’s entrance into Swedish nobility.
Johan and Gustaf, along with their sister Anna Christina, were likely born in Sweden, and possibly spent their childhood at Ugglansryd. Continuing the family tradition, the brothers served in the military. Johan fought in the Danish War17Johan was a driver in the noble veneer regiment in 1644., rising to the position of cavalry master at Småland’s cavalry regiment in 1659. Gustaf served in the German War and the Polish War18In the German war, Gustaf was a rider in Count Douglas’ regiment in 1647, and he was a cornet in the Queen’s livery regiment on horseback in 1660 during the Polish War., and was captured at the battle of Fyen in 1659. He eventually became cavalry master in 1677.
In 1632, upon the death of King Gustav II Adolfo, the Crown passed to his daughter Kristina, then only five years old. She began to rule when she came of age in 1644, facing challenges and bringing Sweden on the verge of bankruptcy. But she advocated to end the Thirty Years’ War19A highly destructive religious war in Europe between 1618-1648 that led to millions of deaths. It started within Germany’s Holy Roman Empire, but involved more countries in the 1630s, with Sweden supporting France. in 1648 through the Treaty of Westphalia, receiving indemnity and greatly enhancing the prestige of Sweden20Taylor, Estonia. Known for her wisdom and intellect, and sometimes referred to as the “Minerva of the North,” she played an instrumental role in positioning Sweden as an international, cultural country. She chose not to marry and eventually abdicated in favour of her personal goals— namely converting to Catholicism and moving to Rome.
Four years before her abdication, on 16 September 1650, Queen Kristina knighted the Polman brothers— with their name transitioning henceforth to the more Swedish “Påhlman”—at Stockholm Castle. She also permitted their sister to be included in their nobility. The Påhlmans were introduced the same year in the third (journeyman) class under the current No. 501. Later, in 1778, the family would be promoted to the second (knight) class, which had been re-established. The original shield letter has been deposited in Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility in Stockholm, since 1918.
Ugglansryd remained in the family for over 175 years, a place where generations lived and thrived, the backdrop and almost a character in their family history.