Re: Understanding Familianten Records #austria-czech

Celia Male <celiamale@...>

I have just returned >from an extended trip to Vienna and was rather surprised this
morning to read Dave Bernard's summary of the replies he had received to his
original query on Familianten records posted on 28 March whilst I was away. I
reiterate Dave's questions:

1. If the Familianten Record was written in 1811, or any time before 1824, why
would the parents of the Familiant not be known?

2. Since all of the record appears to be written by the same person, is this
really a reconstruction or transcription compiled >from several sources and not a
primary record?

I searched my in-box and found not one reply posting on the subject - so I must
assume that all the replies were private. May I make a plea, namely that this is
a discussion forum and I would have loved to see some of the replies on the SIG
and an interesting discussion develop >from his original query?

I would like to add my comments, at this late stage of the open forum. Like some
of our members who have visited the Prague state archives, I have looked at these
impressive books. I have only visited twice and am a mere beginner; sadly much too
late, to make a useful contribution. Our SIG member, Julius Muller, is the expert
on the Familianten records.

My comments are as follows:

A. As far as I understand, these book are not the original Jewish records but the
control books kept by the Catholic church or possibly by the civic authorities.
Their main interest was to keep check of the legality of marriages by Jews after
the Familianten law was enacted in 1726 by Charles VI, whereby only the first born
[erstgeborener] sons were allowed to marry.

B. Their interest in the female line was negligible hence there is no list of
female children of the Familiant. This is most disappointing as the books are
of minimal value in researching the female line.

C. As the first Familiants were presumably registered in 1726, if their parents
had already died, there was little interest in listing them. Dave asks about a
man marrying in 1811. He was presumably born between 1780 and 1790 at the latest.
His parents may already be dead. The Toleranz patent, whereby Jews were required
to have family names, was enacted on 13 October 1781. The Familiant's father may
have died before he took a family name and even if still alive was of no interest
to the recorders in 1811.

D. The brothers of the Familiant will be recorded in great detail. Further details
are added through the generations up to 1848, when the act was repealed.

E. If one of the brothers received a Familiant licence to marry, that will also be
recorded. The death of the Familiant is also recorded meticulously as that leaves
a position free to be inherited by another brother or to to be sold to a man
desperate to get married but unable to do so as his Familiant position [Stelle]
is already taken by an older brother. Emigration of some brothers is also noted.
That is also a valuable resource, as it might give a clue as to the origin of a
family far away >from the original village or town in Bohemia.

F. I have never seen a Jewish record book of Familiants. I assume that some must
exist. That would interest me greatly - i.e. a side-by-side comparison. As the
existing Jewish records are probably kept at the Jewish Museum and the main books
are at the Prague State Archives, I have no idea if anyone has ever made such a
comparison. If not, it is long overdue.

G. Accurate Jewish birth, marriage and name records in those early years are hard
to come by. When I searched for my KOHN family in Grossbock, Koniggratzer Kreis,
I was told that the detailed records of the KOHNs in the BMD records of Grossbock
for the early 1700s was

H. In 1726, when the records started, many families did not have the names we
recognise today. In some cases, I have seen a reference to a name change which is
interesting. So these Familiant books are an unresearched source of original
family names, if the reference is in fact there.

I. It is a life's work to study these books and extract the useful facts >from them
apart >from the Familianten side of things. This work cannot be done by one person
but by an organised group of people. It would now require a large army of
volunteers or subsidised helpers to extract the first-listed names, the names of
any female lines and the emigration destinations plus any other salient facts >from
the hundreds of Familianten books which exist. Then we would have a much more
valuable genealogical resource.

J. If many Jewish Familianten books still exist, then we would love to hear about
them on this SIG >from anyone who has studied them at the Jewish Museum in Prague.

K. And finally, what about Moravia? We need a complete listing of books available
and where they are located. That is one of the biggest problems for Moravian SIG
members today.

Celia Male {UK]

Join { to automatically receive all group messages.