Erik Olof Johansson trial in 1841


District-court of Nordmaling,

Västerbotten’s län, Sweden.

Spring district-court sessions in 1841,

§ 66, 209 and 216, Encls. 51-54, 183-188.

Rewritten by Roland Tidström, Vilhelmina/Umeå, 2005.



Nov 8th 1840 a burglary was committed at the (wealthy/Roland’s add) farmer Eric Eriksson Nyberg in Hummelholm, Nordmaling. Various things were stolen.

  Information about the burglary had been announced in the churches of Nordmaling and Umeå. Among the stolen things were earrings and fingerings of gold, silverspoons, a snuffbox of silver, silk textiles, textiles of cotton, cloth, a featherbed, a down pillow, a skin rug of sheep’s, sheets and cash.

  When the young man Johan Jonsson from Västerhiske in Umeå set up some of the things for sale the police suspected him for having something to do with the burglary in Hummelholm last November. He was suspected for good reason. Also his brother-in-law, Erik Olof Johansson, dependent tenant in Högbränna, become suspected for knowing about the burglary, and both were taken in custody.

  Johan Jonsson become revealed when he sold a snuffbox of silver to the jeweller Eric Lindweoth younger in Umeå. When Erik Eriksson saw the snuffbox he recognized it as his. The police therefore looked Johan Jonsson up in his home at the widow of Jon Pehrsson in Västerhiske.

  Johan Jonsson flatly denied having anything with the burglary to do. The police then did a raid in his home and found several of the stolen things. When the police started to be interested in Johan Jonsson several other people tiped the police that they also had bought things from him. Johan Jonsson was arrested and put in prison. Also Erik Olof Johansson was arrested. (This should have happened some day in January, I would believe/Roland).


  On March 18th 1841 the trial begun at the district-court of Nordmaling against the 18 year old Johan Jonsson and his brother-in-law Erik Olof Johansson. (Both had been arrested for about two months I would believe/Roland). To begin with Erik Olof Johansson was asked to leave the court room when Johan Jonsson was inquired. The prosecutor opened a package of things and he started the hearing of Johan Jonsson.

  Johan Jonsson told the court that he had bought things from his brother-in-law, Erik Olof Johansson, last Christmas at his home in Högbränna. Johan Jonsson then pawned the cloth at the merchant Fahlstedt in Umeå for other articles. The earrings and the fingerings were sold to the jeweller Linderoth. And other things to different people.

  After having told the court about this Johan Jonsson said that he sailed as a seaman in 1839. In the fall in 1839 he signed in at the mercantile marine office in Sundsvall. From the beginning of 1840 he spent his time in his parent’s home in Västerhiske as he had no job.


  Erik Olof Johansson now entered the courtroom again. He told the court about his llife, that he was born in 1806 in Torsböle, Nordmaling, where his late father owned a homestead. Erik Olof Johansson told that he previous owned a homestead in Högbränna but now lived only at a crofter. Eight years ago he married his wife and has with her two living children and two children that had died. In 1839 he was punished with 40 (par spö) and (uppenbar kyrkoplikt).

  Erik Olof Johansson admitted he had been in possession of the stuff that Johan Jonsson said he had bought from Johansson, and that he gave the things to Johan Jonsson to be sold. When the prosecutor asked him how he had received the things he firstly said that about Christmas he met Anders Jonsson in the forest. About Epiphany Anders Jonsson assigned Erik Olof Johansson that a goblet stolen from Erik Eriksson was kept in Anders Jonsson’s barn in Hummelholm. Erik Olof Johansson got the goblet in the purpose of restoring it to Erik Eriksson. But then Erik Olof Johansson changed his mind and said that Anders Jonsson asked him to sell the things.

  Erik Eriksson now told the court that he had found some of the stuff assigned by the brother of Erik Olof Johansson, Johan Johansson in Orrböle. Erik Olof Johansson now confessed that he in November 1840, in company with Anders Jonsson in Hummelholm, went to Erik Eriksson’s home. There they broke both the shutter and the window and gone into the home of Erik Eriksson.

  Erik Olof Johansson and Anders Jonsson was supposed to share the stolen money. But Anders Jonsson took all the money when they carried the stolen things away and Erik Olof Johansson got nothing of the money. Anders Jonsson took one of the earrings of gold, the silverspoons, the silk textile, cotton cloth and the feather bed.

  Erik Olof Johansson then left the Erik Eriksson place, but Anders Jonsson went back to the house. Erik Olof Johansson then told his brother Johan Johansson where the bag with the stolen things was kept. His idea, he said, was that Erik Eriksson was supposed to get the things back.

  Erik Eriksson had called several people as witnesses – the farmer Erik Nilsson and the farmhand Johan Pehrsson in Hummelholm, the farmer Jon Jonsson younger in Hörnsjö, wife Anna Helena Ersdotter in Högbränna, the settler Lars Hörnquist in Stenvattnet (?) and the farmhand Mats Andersson in Torrböle. But as Erik Olof Johansson had said that also Anders Jonsson was implicated in the burglary the district-court wanted to interrogate him as well and therefore the trial was postponed a couple of weeks. Meantime Johan Jonsson and Erik Olof Johansson were kept under arrest.

   On April 7th when the trial was resumed Johan Jonsson was heard about how he uttered the gold stuff and the silk cloth. The jeweller in Umeå, Linderoth, witnessed.

  Then Anders Jonsson in Hummelholm was heard about his participation with the crime. But he denied everything and said he had nothing at all to do with Erik Olof Johansson last November. And in lack of proof Anders Jonsson was acquitted. The judge P A Norgren and one of the jury members, Olof Hörnström, did not participate in this decision as they were challengeable, they were next of kin’s of Anders Jonsson.

  In the extract of the parish register of Johan Jonsson he was born on Sep 24th 1821 in Umeå rural parish. On May 5th 1839 he got a moving out permit for travelling at sea and after this he hasn’t been registered in Umeå.

  In the extract of the parish register of Erik Olof Johansson he was born in 1806, he has fairly knowledge in Christianity and was one and a half year ago punished by whipping for the first committed theft.

   The next day, April 8th, they were sentenced. The court found Erik Olof Johansson guilty of theft and sentenced him to be whipped once again – “40 par spö, 3 slag av paret”. Also one Sunday he had to “undergå uppenbar kyrkoplikt”. Erik Olof Johansson also was imposed a fine of 84 “riksdaler 4 skillingar Banco”. The court state that it is publicly known that Erik Olof Johansson, as have been sentenced for theft once before, is living in extreme poverty and can’t possibly be legitimate owner of those things that had been found in the custody of his and Johan Jonsson.

  Johan Jonsson was imposed a fine for having sold the stolen things. The fine was set three times the value of the things he was considered to have sold and got paid for. He was fined 174 “riksdaler 24 skillingar Banco”. If he cannot pay the fine he has to be kept in prison 28 days water and bread only. To the disadvantage of Johan Jonsson the court wasn’t pleased that he didn’t give hundred percent statements what he did with the stolen goods.

  Erik Olof Johansson said he was satisfied (as satisfied he could be/Roland) with the judgement. But Johan Jonsson complained. The judge informed Johan Jonsson how he could appeal against the judgement.

  Some time after the trial, maybe directly after, the punishment of Erik Olof Johansson was executed. A few days later in April he did his “uppenbar kyrkoplikt” in the church of Nordmaling.

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   On Apr 22nd 1851 the wife of Erik Olof Johansson,, Maria Helena Jonsdotter, died. At the time the family lived at Holmfors bruk, according to the estate inventory. Erik Olof Johansson was titled as “bruksarbetare”, ironworker.

  In the estate there is one animal only, a sex year old red and white cow. All Erik Olof Johansson own was valued to 60 “riksdaler banco”. But Erik Olof Johansson owed the Olofsfors Bruk 20 “riksdaler”, that is to say a third of the belongings of him and his family.

  After the rest of the debts were deducted only 35 “riksdaler 20 skillingar banco” remained, just quite half of his estate. To compare with other estates it was only a tenth of what the crofter Eskil Olofsson in Lögdeå was in possession of when his wife died, or a twentieth of the estate of Pehr Jonathansson in Nygård.

  The statement of the court that it was publicly known Erik Olof Johansson and his family were living in extreme poverty seem to be true.