Norwegian Naming Practices and Genealogical Resources

So as I find more and more DNA matches with Norwegian-American relatives who tell me “Oh we have an Andressen or a Larsen too,” how do I explain what little use that is? I try saying, “Well in Norway before the late 1800s most people used their father’s name (so Jonsen means the son of Jon) and perhaps their farm name for a surname. So please tell me what locality your family was from and the farm name if you know it.”  Plus Per might be Peder in a different document and other names have other variations. Still one can’t complain, there are an enormous number of  Norwegian records online and the records go back to at least the 1500s in most localities.

I have found two resources which explain the naming practices quite well:

John Føllesdal also has an excellent website hosted by explaining how to research your ancestors in Norway.

John talks about using the census and churchbook information, much of which is now available online at  the Norwegian archives –

Lucky for me I have three cousins who have done most of the Norwegian research so I have only recently started to look through this information. Thank you Dick, Lee, and Michael.

7 thoughts on “Norwegian Naming Practices and Genealogical Resources

Click here to add your thoughts at the end of the comments
  1. One other useful piece of Norwegian naming information is about first names. It was customary to name the first son for the paternal grandfather, the first daughter for the maternal grandmother, the second son for the maternal grandfather, and the second daughter for the paternal grandmother. Sometimes a similar but slightly different first name could be used or even a name that just started with the same letter. Also when a child died in the first year or so their name was usually used for the next child of that sex.

  2. I have been trying to find what “u/” means in farming names. It looks like it means “of”. For instance…. Pedergarden u/ Hoggen in Volda. Just curious the word is in Norwegian.

  3. My expert cousin Dick does not have the answer yet, he is looking.

    Norwegian farms tended to get divided and sub-divided so you see names like itre Hoggen (outer) and indr (inner) and upper and lower … so this sounds like Pdergarden (Peter’s garden) is a subdivision of Hoggen. Do you have more examples?

    I can post the to the rootsweb norway list for you or better yet join that list and pose your question to the helpful folk on that list

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.