Svein Ivar Langhelle:
Tysvær 9. Slik levde dei. ("Such as They Lived") FRÅ 1820 TIL1920,*
[Tysvær local history book volume 9]
Tysvær kommune, 1997
Chapter: Frå opprør til hegemoni (From revolt to hegemony)
Chapter subtitle on page 178: Kvekarane fram til 1843 (Quakers forward to 1843)
[Translation to English by Rotraud Slogvik with assistance from Peggy & Keith Wheeler.]
In the Napoleonic war (1807 - 1814) many Norwegian seamen were captured and brought to prison. The people from Rogaland were onboard the prison ships "Bahama" and "Fyen." The English Quakers came there with food and the word of God. The English Quakers hoped that the Norwegian Haugeans (followers of the religious revivalist leader Hans Nielsen Hauge) would spread the Quaker belief to Norway. The English Quakers had in mind that the Haugean belief and the Quaker belief were very alike in that they were in opposition to the formal Christianity and believed that it was important to have a personal relationship with God. Sixteen Norwegians converted and Torbjørn was one of them. He was a prisoner onboard of "Belliquer."
Torbjørn Knudsen Svinali was a Haugean and had Haugean books with him. In the spring of 1814 the Quakers, who were onboard of the prison ship "Fyen," were given two Haugean books from Torbjørn as a present. The books were: Betraktning over verdens Daarlighet and Gunnsætninger i Christendomens Lære.
In autumn, 1814, most of the Quakers returned home, but nothing happened of any consequence. When the Quakers Stephen Grellet and William Allen came to Stavanger in 1818, there was organized a Quaker society [there]. Elias Tastad married in the Quaker way without any reaction from the authorities. But he was sued and convicted when, in 1821, he had buried his twins in Quaker ground - without ceremony and in unconsecrated soil. From that time on there would be much quarrelling about the Quakers in Rogaland.
In 1821 there lived a single Quaker in Nedstrand, but the year after he had moved away. Later on there were no Quakers in Nedstrand but nobody knows who that single man could have been.
The priest Morton Magnus in Skjold and Tysvær parishes had been sick a long time and had not executed his tasks as a priest for a long time before he died in 1822. The Priest Magnus had obtained a promise from Torbjørn that he would keep quiet and not spread his opinions to the public. Torbjørn kept his promise until the formation of a Quaker society in Stavanger.
Torbjørn probably let [the] other Haugeans read the books he obtained from the English Quakers. Elias Nilsen Slogvik, Lars Osmundsen Brekke, Samuel Jacobsen Hatlehola, Tormod Olsen Sletten and Knut Pedersen Falkeid were all Quakers, who formerly had been Haugeans. When in 1824 Elias Nilsen Slogvik got into trouble because he refused to baptize his child, he wrote a letter to the authorities. This letter was quite obviously inspired by William Dells' "Lære om Daabe" ("Doctrine on Baptism"). His arguments for not baptizing his child were without doubt obtained from this little tract, "Lære om Daabe," which was one of the tracts the prisoners had brought home from England.
The influence from the Quaker belief became significant. This could have been one of the reasons that led Lars Larsen Hertervik, the painter's father, into a religious melancholy. Among the emigrants to America, are found many who sympathized with the Quakers. Jacob Slogvik was one of them, as were Daniel Rossadal and Kornelius Nilsen Hersdal. Later on in this book it will be shown that religious suppression was the most important reason for emigrating. It is unlikely that the problems arose only a short time before the emigration was planned. But it seems obvious that these problems were related to the change of priests for Tysvær and Skjold parishes.
The new priest, Thomas Swensen, was appointed on December 8, 1821, and took over from Magnus by 1822. He (Swensen) was brusque, stubborn and conservative. Bishop Sørensen said that such a priest (Thomas Swensen) will "surely become a real blessing" for the parish in Skjold. It is not improbable that he had the fight against the Quakers in his mind when he recommended Swensen as priest.
On June 24, 1823, Swensen came into a big conflict with the public in "Søre (south) Skjold" and one of the reasons for that was over what time the service should start. He sued Torger E. Lindanger and Samuel Munkhus by law because they had caused disorder in the church. They had furiously asked him to wait until everybody had arrived at the service. The priest was feeling very insulted, but lost the lawsuit, which took place from November 1823 until March in 1825.
This lawsuit probably left a deep and long lasting impression upon both the priest and the public.
We don't know how much understanding and sympathy for the Quaker belief Swensen provoked by his behavior, but there is reason to believe that he did . Elias Nilsen Slogvik baptized his daughter Karen in 1822, but did not baptize the daughter born in 1824.
When Elias Nilsen refused to baptize his child, he had 2 choices: either to pay with money and jail, or apply for getting registered as a Quaker. He chose the latter, but this was not done without causing problems. In 1823 Elias Tastad (the previously mentioned Norwegian sailor who had converted to the Quaker belief while a prisoner in England) had solved his conscience problems by applying to be officially recorded as a Quaker. Since he had attained his belief in England, he had the opportunity to do so. It got worse when Elias Nilsen refused baptizing his child. Elias Nilsen had not been in English prison and therefore he must have become a Quaker in Norway. But if that was what had happened, the Quakers had broken their promise not to spread their belief!
The Quakers never closed their door for people who wanted to visit their meetings and Elias Nilsen often was at meetings in Stavanger. On April 22, 1825, some people applied to be taken into the Quaker society. Elias Nilsen Slogvik and Lars Osmundsen Brekke were among them. By royal resolution May 11, 1826, they were allowed to do so, but had to promise to move to either Stavanger or Hetland or Randaberg. They also had to promise that they would not work to win more people to the Quaker belief.
In spite of that promise, 18-year-old Ingebret Larsen Narrvik become a Quaker in 1826. Ingebret is said to have studied the catechism and other Lutheran books, but "his heart was not with the State Church religion ... through all his life he stayed faithful to the Quaker belief." He died in America in 1892.
When Bishop Munch in 1826 learned that the Quaker religion was still spreading in Skjold and Tysvær, he wanted an explanation. Priest Swensen had to investigate, and September 3, 1827, Swensen wrote to Dean Knudsen and told him about the Quakers in Tysvær and Skjold:
There were two who were allowed to live as Quakers, but in or near Stavanger: cotters (or husmann, a tenant farmer with life tenure) Elias Nilsen in Vågen belonging to Slogvik and Lars Osmundsen Lindehola belonging to Hersdal. Lars was also called Brekke. In addition to that came the 7 unlawful Quakers:
Torbjørn Knutsen Svinali was absent this summer, working in Stavanger. Otherwise Swensen did not have any reason to complain about Torbjørn.
Søren Eriksen Stakland had stayed away from the church the last two years. Søren obtained books from Torbjørn Svinali and these books had convinced him that the Quaker belief corresponded to the New Testament. He had twice followed Torbjørn to a Quaker meeting in Stavanger. Søren had confidentially told that to the priest. The priest asked Søren if he would testify to this in case of a lawsuit, and Søren had answered, "YES!" But the priest still doubted that Søren would admit his new faith in this case. Swensen had nothing negative to say about Søren.
Osmund Guttormsen Erland had been a farmer in Skjold but had moved to Tastad near Stavanger. Osmund had refused to baptize his son, Guttorm, who was born to him and his wife, Berta, in 1826. After pressure from the priest helper, Guttorm was baptized when he was 9 months old. It was said, that was Berta's will, probably to avoid punishment intended by Swensen. The priest did not know who had convinced Osmund to become a Quaker.
Swensen had some complaints about Osmund Guttormsen. Over a period of time there were several instances where he had lived apart from Berta. They neither shared house nor bed. The priest did not know if the son was born during the 5 years declared as the divorce period. But the priest knew that Osmund in 1825 had a son, Erik, by his maidservant, Synnøve Simonsdatter from Straumen belonging to Straum.
Knut Andersen Slogvik had not been in church since 1824. Knut said himself that he had understood that the Quaker belief was the only right one. Swensen talked about that in a mocking way and asked if it was the "inner light (det indvortes Lys)" that had come to him? The priest was sure that Elias Nilsen Slogvik had influenced Knut, but he hadn't any other complaints about Knut.
The cotters (husmennene) Samuel Jakobsen Hatlehåla belonging to Sætra and Tormod Olsen Sletten had both moved to Stavanger. Both had been very eager Haugeans. Swensen suspected that Elias had influenced them too, but he could not prove it.
Knut Pedersen Falkeid also had been an eager Haugean earlier, but had become a Quaker not later than 1825. Knut was a cotter, but worked with handcraft at different places. Swensen did not know how Knut had become a Quaker, but he assumed it must have been the usual way by talking with Quakers and reading their books. When Knut, in 1826, became a widower, Swensen reported that Knut had traveled to Hjelmeland with a "tøite" (or "hussy") whom he had taken with him from Tysvær. Swensen had asked him to get rid of her, but Knut had asked the priest in Hjelmeland to marry them. That priest found out that she belonged to Hjartdal in Telemark and sent them both away. Knut went back to Swensen and asked him to marry them, but Swensen said in a peremptory tone that the bride wasn't his problem, and that Knut irritated him with his Quaker fancies, and that he was afraid of trouble in the church because of Knut's behavior. He thought that Knut wanted to be married with his hat on his head. Swensen asked Knut to go to the priest in Hjartdal or the Quaker society in Stavanger. He ended his report thus: "For the time being, he has gone away with his Dulicinea, but he surely will come back to worry me."
The name of Knut's lover was Gunhild Olsdotter and in 1828 they finally got married on Finnøy by the priest Gabriel Kjelland. Their neighbors did not agree with Swensen's bad opinion about them. It was true that they were Quakers, but they did behave properly, people said.
Ingebret Larsen Narrevik is not seen on Swensen's list. Ingebret had been sailor for a short time, but he said that his shipmates were brutal and unholy, so he quit after only one tour. Maybe this tour took place during Swensen's investigation and this was the reason for not having Ingebret on his list.
Swensen did not know about all "Quakers."
The Quaker belief and Quaker sympathy lived on after 9 of these 10 men had left the parishes. There were, among others, Quakers in the family of Torbjørn Svinali and Knut Slogvik. Swensen must have thought that all Quakers had left Tysvær, because the dean in 1830 recorded that no Quakers were living in the parish at that time. In 1831 Dean Knudsen believed that there weren't any more Quakers left in Skjold and Tysvær parishes. But he knew some young people who refused confirmation. Two years later "a few" Quakers had arrived. Halvorsen was a priest in Skjold and Tysvær at that time. There are two ways to interpret Swensen's defective information: either didn't he want to confess that he was not able to clean out all Quakers - or the people were able to hide their Quaker sympathy from the inquisitorial priest.
Back in 1827, Swensen was very shocked that new members were taken in the Quaker society, and that people from Tysvær were taken in as members in Stavanger, even if they lived far away from there. The priest was shocked too that they did not take seriously the prohibition of a non-member attending the meetings. This prohibition should have struck both Torbjørn Svinali and Søren Stakland, but the priest was sure that there were even more of them. Swensen's concern was to prevent the "converting thing spreading like a poison in the dark." He tried to find a way to prohibit it so that no more would be influenced by talks and reading books and thus being recruited as Quakers "as flies get caught in the cobweb."
Swensen's plan was to get all Quakers to move to Stavanger or not further than one old Norwegian mile (11.3 km) from there. He wanted the two Quakers living in Tysvær to move too. He wanted the Quakers to always wear their special clothes and wanted the police to control that only registered Quakers went to the meetings.
"It is very intolerant," wrote Swensen - but "Lord, if that is so? ... Where we find different religious parties, the leading heads always join in one or another party and use religion as a mask to do criminal actions against the government." Swensen referred to the problems with extra taxes and opposition to road and bridge money (turnpike money) and looked at these problems as a proof of many "troubling heads" living in the area. He asked how it would be, if the Quaker belief that it was a sin to fight in a war, would spread. Who would not like to become a Quaker if he could get a good reason to contradict the authorities? How could the authorities then get back the control? "Maybe punish, force, execute ... to prohibit spite and disobedience? ... Now has the time come to strangle that embryo in it's cradle. Now the little dog can be crushed before his claws grow and he learns about his strength!" The approved Quakers had to be watched carefully and nobody should be allowed to become a new member, believed Swensen. "So I hope, that with Gods help, that evil will be eradicated totally, without bloody fights happening in the future."
We don't know how Swensen practiced his politics, but there is good reason to believe that he reminded the Quakers often about how illegal they acted by staying in Skjold and Tysvær. Nils Stakland tells that "it was hard to be a Quaker in the last century. They were called heretics and the priests attacked them most and liked them least." Swensen could not drive them away with his own hands, but he could punish them hard if they did not practice the ordered rituals like baptizing their children. If he caught them, he gave them such big fines that he ruined them financially.
In addition to the group of official Quakers, there must have existed a group who sympathized with the Quaker belief. But there are also signs that many people felt repugnance toward the Quakers and let them feel that. Such a negative attitude was found in 1840 in the municipality council of Skjold parish. Nils Stakland believed that the Quaker reluctance against drinking and war was the reason that people did not like them. But Søren Stakland's great-grandchild doesn't know about further problems with the neighbors.
The hostility from the priests and some of the neighbors made many of the Quakers leave Skjold and Tysvær. They tried to find places where they could practice their belief in peace and get support from others. The government's attitude was clear: the Quaker belief should be dispatched! Many wished that they would get exiled from the country, but this was too drastic to go through. The petition Elias Nilsen and Lars Brekke sent to the king showed that both parties wanted a fight. It looks like the two Tysvær men felt that only the officials pursued them, and they hoped that the king would look at the matter in another way.
Several Tysvær Quakers emigrated to America in 1825. In 1827, Torbjørn Knutsen worked in Stavanger, Samuel Jakobsen and Tormod Olsen had moved to Stavanger, Knut Pedersen lived on Finnøy, Osmund Guttormsen lived in Tastad where Elias Nilsen also settled in 1828. Lars Osmundsen Brekke did likewise. In 1828 he still lived at Lindehola, where his daughter Berta Gurine was born. But he must have left in 1830. In 1838 and 1839 the two Quakers, Erik Knutsen Svinali and his sister, Siri, emigrated.
On March 15, 1828, Torbjørn Knutsen Svinali, Knut Andersen Slogvik and Søren Eriksen Stakland sought to live as Quakers at their homes at Skjold and Tysvær. They stated that they were not members of the Quaker society, but did not have the "conscience to follow the Lutheran rituals." They stated that they never had been enticed or pressured to become Quakers. The authorities set aside their petitions, and therefore they broke the law by living at their homes. Knut Slogvik soon emigrated to America, Torbjørn Knutsen moved away from Skjold, while Søren Stakland bore all disadvantages he had by staying at home. It was not until 1833 that Søren applied for membership in the Quaker society in Stavanger.
Many Quakers followed the rituals ordered by the church in spite of their Quaker belief. The explanation is only that they wanted to avoid problems with the authority, lawsuits and fines. It was also very difficult to give up the rituals that played such a big role in the society at that time.
Osmund Guttormsen Erland was still living at Tastad near Stavanger in March 1828, but moved later to Meling on Talgje where he took over Knut Olsen's farm. This Knut was Knut Eide, who went to America in 1821 together with Cleng Peerson. Osmund moved to Meling between 1827 and 1830, maybe as early as 1828. It seemed that he had taken with him the servant boy Eilif Olsen from Berg belonging to Gaupås. In 1837 Osmund emigrated to America and a short time later, he left his Quaker belief.
Torbjørn Knutsen Svinali lived out his life on the same farm on Meling. Torbjørn lived at Bringedal in 1830, is said to have lived in Sandnes and came to Meling not later than 1841. When Osmund Guttormsen left for America in 1837 relatives of Torbjørn took over the farm. Torbjørn died at Meling in 1842.
On Finnøy, Gabriel Kielland was a priest from 1824 until 1837. He was joining the "brødrevennene" (also called Moravians, a German pietistic movement) and was himself a kind of dissenter. There already were some Quakers in his parish before he welcomed Knut Pedersen. It is said that Kielland was as pleased about the Quakers as about all other revival movements. It looked like Finnøy was a place of refuge for Quakers in Kielland's era.
The cotter, Lars Osmundsen Lindehålå belonging to Hersdal, was born in Sauda in 1774 and was also called Lars Brekke. He was probably the same Lars Brekke, who was together with Hans Nielsen Hauge in Sand in 1802 and there joined the Haugeans. He was also to become a member of the Quaker society in Stavanger, but Swensen did not receive a certificate from him, only a written confession.
Elias Nilsen Slogvik was the most active of the Quakers. He came from the cotter's place Teigen belonging to Nes in Sauda and was born about 1788. Several family members were wayfarers ("omstreifer"). In 1808 Elias worked in Marvik, and in 1815 he married Liva Jørgensdotter in Suldal, but he had left no trace there. In 1822, Liva and Elias had their daughter, Karen, while they lived at Vågen belonging to Slogvik in Tysvær. This place was, together with Hettervik, the most important meeting place for wayfarers in Tysvær.
In 1824, Elias Nilsen Slogvik had problems with the law because he refused to baptize his daughter, Ingeborg. Elias refused to "pay the tenth" (tithing) to the priest. Dean Knudsen asked the department for advice and then wrote to Swensen in July that Elias had to baptize his child within 9 month after its birth. If he refused, he would have to pay 1 "daler" a week for as long the noncompliance took place. The poor would get that money. In the following year, the Stavanger Quakers wrote to the king and prayed for Elias. He had a big family and they were very poor.
The case came to a good end when Elias Nilsen, in 1826, was allowed to live as a Quaker. In 1825 he sought that, and the Quakers in Stavanger supported him in a letter. In this letter they stated that Elias was familiar with the Quaker religious principles and that he lived according to them. Elias could have been a member, but this had been delayed. Elias hadn't asked for it, and the Quakers did not actively try to recruit new members.
On March 18, 1828, three days after Søren Stakland, Knut Slogvik and Torbjørn Svinali had applied for living as Quakers in Skjold, Elias Slogvik and Lars Brekke wrote a letter to the king and asked for the same. They had been previously allowed to live as Quakers in Stavanger, and the letter was written in Stavanger. They stated that they still were living at Vågen and Lindehola. There they wanted to continue to stay, even if they - "Strandsitter" (non-landowning seaside residents) as they were - often were robbed for the priest's tenth. Elias refused to pay 18 skilling each year to the priest, and had therefore been fined for about 5 "daler." He complained that a Christian man, who was even a teacher of others in Christian matters, should not treat him like that. Elias related that Anders Knutsen Slogvik, who owned Vågen, had waived 5 years expenses for him and thus showed much more Christian empathy than the priest.
This application did not have any positive result, and in the same year Elias Nilsen moved to Høye near Stavanger. In 1833 or later, Elias applied to join the Quaker's society as a member, even though he must have thought himself a Quaker for at least 10 years. Liva Jørgensdatter got her membership immediately, but her husband's was postponed because of "certain circumstances." A month later he became a member after all, and 10 years later his children Ingeborg and Jørgen became members, as did Jørgen's wife, Sissel Olsdotter. Elias died in 1842, but Liva lived until 1867. In Stavanger, Elias was one of the most truthful Quakers and he was blamed for the teacher Matias Pedersen Grønnestad from Bokn becoming a Quaker.
In 1835 there were still some young Quakers who refused confirmation. One of them was Anders Andersen Slogvik, the brother of the emigrated Quakers, Knut and Jacob. Anders refused confirmation until they could prove that God himself had instituted the confirmation. Sheriff Petersen called Anders a good and believing man, but Swensen ordered him to jail and confirmation by constraint, otherwise he had to leave Tysvær. He was sued in court twice and condemned to confirmation. He would have to be educated by Priest Jens Braage Halvorsen in spite of the fact that Anders had much knowledge about the Bible. Anders would have to pay a great deal in fines too, but when authority came to get the money, there was nothing to take.
In 1835 Dean Løberg noticed many Quakers in Tysvær parish. He counted on getting rid of them within a few years with help of the authorities' efforts. But he was wrong. The Søren Eriksen Stakland's family, among others, never gave up. Others emigrated and moved, but they stayed behind. In 1837 and 1838 Søren had to pay fines because he refused to have his grown sons confirmed. He got bigger fines two years later, when he refused to baptize his two youngest children. Søren's cause went all the way through to supreme court. Under the court ruling in 1839, they took from him one horse, seven cows, two rams and two lambs. He was left with only a calf. At that time Søren was thinking about emigrating to America, but people in Stavanger helped him get on to his feet again, according to Nils Stakland, who is Søren's great grandchild. He also said that in his opinion, it was all the pursuits and sufferings that made the Quakers emigrate to America. They couldn't make a living here; the authorities were too hard on them, according to Nils.
In 1839 priest Halvorsen was of the opinion that there was a Quaker sect with 2 families and 12 individuals in Tysvær parish, while there was one family with 6 members in Skjold. He probably only counted the "official" members, but not the sympathizers. Halvorsen believed that the harsh treatment of the Quakers held their number down. "As soon as this sect gets liberty of action, it will spread, " he wrote in 1840.
When Anders Slogvik and his wife Berta Sørensdotter from Stakland became members of the Quaker society in Stavanger in 1840, they actually were the first in Tysvær.
In Hinderå parish in 1839, there were a few Quakers or "such who called themselves that" as the dean expressed it. He pointed out, that he knew about four persons. Two of them were family fathers and one was a housewife. The other members in the families were not Quakers. The dean held the view that one of the family fathers was not respectable at all. He had been sued because of adultery and the priest was sure about him being guilty. He had seduced a girl from the Quaker troop and "she had an illicit relationship with him." The dean had no comments about the other family father and his wife.
In Avaldsnes parish there were in 1839, only a few Haugeans - no other sects.
In 1840 Professor Hjelm proposed a new religion law. This would make things even worse for the Quakers. Believers other than the Evangelic-Lutheran would only be tolerated if they worshiped in privacy at home. Public meetings would be prohibited. "If they don't accept these limits, the best thing they can do then is to emigrate," said Hjelm. If this law would be agreed to, hard labor, prison and exiling could be used on those who did not yield.
The proposal was sent out for voting, but in our district the municipality councils had a different view on it. Nedstrand did vote against it. They said it was against the "spirit of the times." They asked to never let such a proposal be a law. They also wanted to cancel the "konventikkelplakaten" (ordinance governing religious assembly) from 1741. Avaldsnes voted against the proposal as well, but Tysvær and Skjold voted in favor of it with 6 - 1 votes. In Tysvær and Skjold the priest Braage Halvorsen was strongly against religious freedom.
It was also religious freedom that caused the biggest problem for the dissenters. The voting in Tysvær and Skjold shows clearly that the religious opposition had been big and that important men were tired of the Quakers. The Quaker dogma and way of living had for a long time in these parish communities been an "offence to the parishes," wrote dean Løberg in 1835. Both Avaldsnes and Skudenes (including Bokn) councils were negative in the same way. In Bokn a Quaker lawsuit ended in the supreme court. Vats and Hjelmeland councils voted in favor of Hjelm's proposal, but all other councils in Rogaland voted against it.
When in 1845 the Parlament (Stortinget) accepted a new dissenter law, religious freedom was granted. The Quakers and other Christian dissenters were allowed to worship their God, as they wanted to. They could meet and preach as they wanted to, and they did not need to baptize their children or marry in church. They were allowed to bury their dead where and how they wanted. The Quakers did not have to swear an allegiance, but had to do military service and pay taxes to school and church. Most of the differences were resolved, but there were still a few left.
*Permission to publish this translation given in 2002 by the author, Svein Ivar Langhelle, and the publisher, Tysvær kommune, Rogaland, Norway. Copies of this book, Volume 9, and the others in the series may be obtained from the Tysvær kommune by writing to:
Rådhuset, 5570 Aksdal, Norway;
or telephone: 52 77 05 00; fax: 52 77 05 50.
E-mail address: email@example.com
Information in Norwegian on this whole series of local history books (bygdebøker) can be obtained by going to their "Bygdebøker" web site.
Tysvær tourist information in English can be found by CLICKING HERE.
For more information on some of the individuals mentioned in this writing from the genealogy database of Keith Wheeler, click on the names below:
Torbjørn Knudson SVINALI (Keith's 4th great granduncle)
Jacob Andersen SLOGVIK (SLOGVIG) (Keith's great great grandfather)
Knut Andersen SLOGVIK (SLOGVIG) (Keith's great great granduncle)
Anders Andersen SLOGVIK (SLOGVIG) (Keith's great great granduncle)
Anders Knutsen SLOGVIK (SLOGVIG) (Keith's 3rd great grandfather)
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