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Gunvor Tollefsdatter (abt. 1470 - abt. 1535)

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Gunvor Tollefsdatter
Born about in Norgemap
Daughter of and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Wife of — married about [location unknown]
[children unknown]
Died about in Norgemap
Profile last modified | Created 7 May 2011
This page has been accessed 690 times.
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Gunvor Tollefsdatter is Norwegian.
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Gunvor may have been born about 1470. She was the daughter of Tollef Bjørgulfsson[1].

She married Lars Østensen say about 1510[1]. This marriage must have been childless.

She died before 23 May 1535[1].

Research Notes

The family of Gunvor Tollefsdatter is known from one single source, a letter in Diplomatarium Norvegicum dated 23 May 1535, at the farm Flom (identified as the modern farm Flåm in Flåbygd, which is part of the current municipality of Nome, Telemark, Norway). Here it is told that

Lafrans Östenssön on the one side, with Thore Björgulfsön and Roar Thorgrimssön on the other, after Gunnor Thorleifsdatter's death, divided as inheritance what she had received in fines for the accidental killing of her father Thorleif Björgulssön. The inheritance consisted of parts in three farms in "Hitterdal" (modern Heddal), namely nordre (Northern) Strand, søndre (Southern) Strand, and Ylen (modern Yli). Lafrans gets about half the estate, while the others get the rest[1].

In the following, the names will be referred with modern spellings; Lafrans Östenssön as Lars Østensen, and Gunnor Thorleifsdatter as Gunvor Tollefsdatter.

There are at least two rather wide-spread misconceptions about this family found on the Web. One is that they are somehow connected to a family in Grangärde, Dalarna, Sweden[2].

The idea that Gunvor, with or without spouse, may have migrated from central Telemark in Norway to Dalarna in Sweden, about 500 miles away, with a massive mountain ridge in between, must be rejected as a rather preposterous case of wishful thinking. The fact that her inheritance is divided between her relatives in Central Telemark after her death is proof that she never really left her home grounds. The idea must have originated with someone lacking an elementary knowledge of Scandinavian geography, probably working with a compiled index of Scandinavian names and dates.

The second misconception originates in an assumption, bluntly stated as a fact by O. H. Holta in his bygdebok Hitterdalsboken from 1927[3], that Lars Østensen is the son of Gunvor and, by implication, an unmentioned Østen. The coupling of this person with a roughly contemporary Østen in Dalarna appears wholly fictional and very much at odds with actual circumstances. And just to be perfectly clear about it: It has absolutely not been suggested by Holta.

On the other hand, he mentions Norwegian descendants of this family[4], but the line seems dubious. There's lack of hard evidence as well as chronological issues, but the main reason for doubt is because a closer inspection of the 1535 letter all but proves that Lars Østensen was Gunvor's widower, not her son. There are two reasons for this inference:

  1. He inherited, or rather kept, roughly half the estate, which was (and still is) the customary share of the surviving part in a marriage. The other inheritors must be Gunvor's relatives, either a) Gunvor's own children of previous marriages, or b) children of her siblings.
  2. The wording of the letter is typical for divisions of inheritance, where the surviving spouse of a marriage is mentioned on the one side, while on the opposite side are mentioned the other inheritors. This is an effect of the basic asymmetry in a division of inheritance, where the surviving spouse actually defends what is his or her property by marriage, against the blood relatives of the deceased.

Holta's assumption that Lars Østensen is the son of Gunvor Tollefsdatter is therefore untenable.

It is evident from the text that the marriage of Lars and Gunvor must have been childless. If there had been any surviving children of this marriage, they would certainly have been mentioned as inheritors, either in case a) along with the other inheritors who would then have been their half-siblings, or in case b) they would have taken precedence and been mentioned instead of the other inheritors, together with their father.

Gunvor's presumed spouse Østen "Tollefsen" Flom must be considered fictional. He does not appear to have been mentioned in any original sources (which are extremely sparse for this period), and not even Holta mentions him by name.

Of course Lars Østensen must have had a father named Østen. But that same basic fact goes for every person with a known patronym, and can hardly be used by itself as a proof of existence. Leif Biberg Kristensen 20:30, 29 March 2019 (UTC)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Diplomatarium Norvegicum (online version), Vol. VIII, page 775. Letter 729
  2. See for instance this Web page.
  3. O. H. Holta: Hitterdalsboken - Gaarde og Slegter (Author's personal publication, 1927) page 275-276.
  4. Holta assumes that Lars Østensen ("son of Gunvor Tollefsdatter") had a son Tollef Larsen, mentioned in 1593 and 1625. Tollef again, still according to Holta, had a son Ole Tollefsen, who died in 1649. The evidence for these relations may at best be described as circumstantial. LBK.

This person was created through the import of Williams_AndersForWikiTree.ged on 07 May 2011.

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On 29 Mar 2019 at 10:09 GMT Eva Ekeblad wrote:

There are three different Lars Östensson that have been conflated in the mills of Internet genealogy because they had the same name and lived at roughly the same time.
  • One of them was the son (no: widower) of Gunvor Tollefsdatter, as per Hitterdalsboken.
  • One of them lived in Grangärde - Britt-Marie Sohlström is on his track, but since she still has not fond a credible source for descendants we are not creating a profile.
  • One of them was the husband of Rådgierd Karlsdotter (Bure) in Skellefteå. Since we can probably scratch together some credible sources for him I think it is best to let the currently existing profile represent the guy in Skellefteå.

On 7 Mar 2019 at 09:39 GMT Leif Biberg Kristensen wrote:

Tollefsdotter-2 and Tollefsdatter-1 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicate

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