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The Family Name Åfeldt/Åhfeldt

The family name / last name/ surname Åfeldt (independent of spelling variations ÅFELDT, ÅHFELDT, ÅHFELT, ÅFELT) is in its form a type of Swedish soldier's name. Read more about Swedish soldier's names here.

When our ancestor Nils/Niclas Åfeldt was assigned to the cavalry regiment (Lifregementet till Häst) as a trumpeter, most probably the chief or the regiment chief or the chief of his company gave him the new name to use.
Why I use the Å f e l d t version is because of most people in my family branch has been using this spelling version for several generation, and my grandfather always told me that this is the "correct" version" to spell the surname. This was at least his view.

The Swedish surnname / last name Åfeldt can be devided into two parts - Å and Feldt.


First part, "Å" is one of the letters of the Swedish alphabet meaning "smaller water stream or river".

Second part "Feldt" is an old version of the Swedish word for "field" and a very common word to create Swedish surname with.


This word "Feldt" could also be a stand-alone last name OR it could also be combined with other words to create other surnames; for instance EKFELDT, LANDFELDT or ARMFELT.
Back in the days, there were many different varities of the spelling of this word like FELT, FÄLT, FELDT, FÄLDT, FÄLLT, FÄLDTH.


Taking a new name with -FÄLT kind-of- ending became very popular among the nobility during the Swedish Empire 1611-1718. The inspiration came from German noble names, which later also started a trand by Swedes and Finns that were knighted and granted a noble title.

Of all noble -FÄLT kind-of-names, 38% of these was taken in the end of - or after - The Thirty Years' War (1611-1648).



To take a new surname which "sounded fancy and noble-alike" was of course very common among many of the soldiers and low-rank officers that served/made career in the Swedish Army. Of course the "real" nobles felt intimidated  by this "class trespassing", which resulted in that the Swedish king Adolf Fredrik in 1752 proclaimed that "riders, dragoons and soldiers were not allowed to use noble family names".

There are plenty of examples of these "noble alike" family names both from the Swedish/Finnish military records.



The spelling of the surname Åfeldt


In general, there is no correct and incorrect spelling of the family name.
What I can see in my family branch is that spelling the name "Åfeldt" has been used for many generations, and it is considered as the correct spelling of several close relatives of mine - like my grandfather; this even if he used to spell the name "Åhfeldt" during some years-


Other family lines/branches have been using spelling "Åhfeldt", and there are also some examples where "Åhfelt" been used as well.

So I have made the following conclusion regarding the spelling of our family name Åfeldt:

1) During the 18th century (1700) we can see that there isn't any consistent spelling of the name. We can see all kind of varieties (Åhfeldt, Åfeldt, Åhfelt, Åfelt).
I don't think the exact spelling of a name was that important, which can be seen in the church archives / military records. Example of the different spelling of the name can be found here.

2) During 19th century to modern times we can see that two of the varieties of spelled names are used - Åfeldt and Åhfeldt, and we can see that there are different family branches that uses different name types in a most consistent way than earlier. For instance in my own family branch, I can see that the name is spelled Åfeldt for many generations, which is also why I keep on use this version myself.


Source: Leden FÄLT i svenska släktnamn i Finland av Marianne Blomqvist
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From Viksta parish wedding book from 1745:
"January 13th, Trumpeter Niclas Åfelt with maiden Gunilla Margareta Salgren." This is one of the oldest recorded document where the family name Åfeldt is written out.



Household reconds from end of the 19th Century and Boo parish, outside Stockholm showing the gardener Karl Emanuel Åfeldt with family.
Here we can see that the type of spelling of the family name is Åfeldt.


Another household reconds from end of 19th Century showing the family including painter Fredrik August Åhfeldt with familj.
Here we can see that this different family branch is using the spelling version Åhfeldt.


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