Polman, Påhlman, von Pohlmann family
Her many impassioned letters to both the church and the state indicate that Margareta Silfversparre refused to put up with unjust 17th century Swedish norms.
Margareta Silfversparre was the daughter of major Per Silfversparre (No. 99) and Magdalena von Scheiding. Around 1661, she married Johan Påhlman, cavalry master of Småland’s Cavalry Regiment.1“Silfversparre nr 99”, Adelsvapen-Wiki, https://www.adelsvapen.com/genealogi/Silfversparre_nr_99, accessed: 29 May 2023; “Silfversparre”, Roskildes Historie, https://www.roskildehistorie.dk/stamtavler/adel/svenske/Silfversparre/Silfversparre.htm, accessed: 29 May 2023 Between 1662 and 1682, the couple had several children – Fredrik (b. 1662), Christina Beata (c. 1666-1736), Magdalena (1668-1739), Göran (b. 1670), Catharina, Hedvig (1673-1749), Claes (1678-1704), an unnamed child (d. 1679), Carl Gustaf (1679-1757), Henrik (b. 1681), and Maria. They lived at the manor Ugglansryd in Ryssby, Sweden. In 1671, Margareta attended a hearing with three residents of Sunnerå village which was seemingly resolved amicably.2Josef Henrik Theophil Rosengren, Ny Smålands Beskrifning [New Småland Description], Volumes 2-3 (Vexiö: Vexiö-bladets boktryckeri, 1914), 10. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=bKz3h4fVLksC.
In 1672, a year after their eldest son had enrolled in school,3Fredrik enrolled at Växjö school on 16 June 1671. Johan and Margareta wrote letters to their Bishop due to marital discord. On 24 February, Johan sought action against his wife for running away with the children, maids and their common possessions.4Växjö Domkapitel, Sunnerboarkivet Archive: Rättsoch Tingshusväsende, series F1, vol. 6, filing 1672 no. 83, https://webtjanst.ljungby.se/klara/public/volume/VolumeView.jsp?VolumeID=37964 On 26 March, Margareta countered the allegations in a much longer letter of her own, accusing her husband of being a “tyrant” and a bad Christian who,5Växjö Domkapitel, of Kullebo, March 26, 1672; translated by Lars Jenner, PhD
“…during a very long period keeps himself away from the church and the annual large gathering for the Lord’s Holy Communion, rather lies at home in daily murmuring and leading an undisciplined life of cursing and rage. Then he casts accusations upon me publicly to the point that I no longer with clean conscience can bear it; considers me not his wife but much worse than his slave and servant, that I must myself alone endure all the duties inside and outside.”
She was worried about the influence of their domestic circumstances on the children, and also mentioned instances of physical violence, declaring that it would be “quite difficult and almost impossible” for them to reconcile. In the same letter, Margareta pointed to similar events in the past and requested permission to leave her husband:
“I for that reason can no longer have confidence about staying in his company, as he so little regarded the reconciliation that occurred several years ago, which those documents, having been notarized, show. And after five trips to the church pastor, meant to unify us, so little of his mind subsequently has turned toward improvement. […] Also I have a little son in Växjö to care for […] And I will gratefully pay his way, only if he does not go to his father, learn and mirror his despicable and aggravating ways of life.”
Nonetheless, it seems that her entreaties were futile, for the couple publicly reconciled in April 1672.6Växjö Domkapitel, 1667: 384-85
In 1685 and 1686, Margareta’s two eldest sons, Fredrik and Göran, volunteered with the Swedish infantry regiment and went on to have careers in the military; their brothers would follow later.7Carl Gustaf and Henrik volunteered at Kronoberg’s regiment in 1694 and 1699. In 1687, Margareta wrote further letters of distress to the Bishop, signalling the continued problems in her marriage. In light of further accusations of misconduct by her husband, she entreated the district pastor to visit them and exonerate her.8Växjö Domkapitel, filing 1687 no. 329 / “Växjö Domkapitel”, filing 1687 no. 327
“Church Pastor Laurentius (Lars) Siggonius affirms, of Agunnaryd 11/3/1687, that he about the Noble Mrs. Margareta Silfversparre at Ugglansryd never has heard or known other than that she is lawful, honest and good, to the best of my knowledge confirm her being completely innocent of that which her husband accuses, “that she once in my house has had illegal intercourse with another man, who is now dead, which I under oath will affirm.””
In 1691, Margareta was in an altercation with a man named Sven Sonesson outside the cemetery in Ryssby, who “lifted a cane against her and was contemptuous”. Margareta – who seems to have had a strength and sense of justice that allowed her to stand up for herself – allegedly asked him if he wanted to hit her, to which he replied, “Hit you eighteen times, as you have nothing other than fornicators and thieves in your house and no honest person comes from you.” Sonesson was fined, sentenced to sit in the specified row for two consecutive Sundays, and to stand bareheaded at the church door; the latter two were punishments meant to shame the guilty person.9Sunnerbo Domkapitel, filing 1691 no. 104005; Göta Hovrätt – Advokatfiskalen Kronobergs län (G) EVIIAAAD:39 (1691-1693) Bild 550 / sid 103 (AID: v206227.b550.s103, NAD: SE/VALA/0382503)
Johan died in 1693, upon which Margareta inherited Ugglansryd, as well as the estate farm Väraboda which he had bought in 1677.10Johan bought the manor – which had once belonged to his aunt and his sister – from its owner, Elin Stråle of Ekna. But her challenges were far from over. In the same way that she had once defended herself, Margareta stood by her youngest daughter Maria, who had given birth to an illegitimate child with a man who refused to marry her. In 1697, Margareta filed a complaint against Isak Nederwood, a nobleman, who had “dishonoured” her daughter “in the promise of marriage”.11Växjö Domkapitel, filing 1697 no. 284 In 1700, she requested that Maria be allowed readmission into the congregation, from which she had been presumably barred since the incident.12Växjö Domkapitel, filing 1700 no. 38 Margareta brought her daughter to live with her at Gällaryd, where Maria eventually became engaged to Field Surgeon Clas Vilken in 1704.13Sunnerbo Domkapitel, 1704, p. 130
Three years later, on 26 March 1707, Margareta was compelled to pick up her pen once again and write to the commission responsible for planned reductions during the reign of Karl XI, wherein Ugglansryd was likely to be included. Her pleas as a “poor” and “very sad” widow to be allowed to retain the family manor, the income from which she claimed was maintaining her, were successful.14Rosengren, Ny Smålands Beskrifning, 10 She was allowed to keep it, and Ugglansryd would remain in the Påhlman family until 1798.
In 1709, Margareta’s sons Göran and Carl Gustaf were captured in Perevolochna during the Battle of Poltava between Russia and Sweden.15Sweden lost the battle, and with it much of its power in Europe. They were banished to Tobolsk in Siberia, and would not return during Margareta’s lifetime. She died in 1716.16Johan Axel Almquist, Frälsegodsen I Sverige Under Storhetstiden: Med Särskild Hänsyn Till Proveniens Och Säteribildning [Salvage estates in Sweden during the Age of Greatness: With Special Consideration to Provenance and Settlement Formation], Issue 1, Volume 3 (Stockholm: Norstedt, 1976), 1239, 1656