JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Marriage restrictions in the Austro-Hungarian Empire #general

Stan Goodman <SPAM_FOILER@...>

On Sat, 8 Jan 2005 16:08:29 UTC, lachaus@... (Lachaus) opined:

Ernst Pawel writes in "The nightmare of reason, a life of Franz Kafka",
Collins Harvill, p. 4, that "a 1789 degree promulgated to curb the growth
of the Jewish population barred any but the oldest son of Jewish parents
obtaining a marriage license". The constitution that followed the 1848
revolution brought an end to this discrimination. The decree was very
restrictive - Kafka's father married late because he had a stepbrother older
by a year. Could someone explain whether the decree applied to the whole of
the Habsburg empire; if it was strictly enforced; if there were ways for
getting round (maybe by settling in another area; marrying without a
license; registering children under someone else's name - hence implications
for genealogical research).
I didn't know about this restriction, but it may explain another stumbling
block that is very troublesome.

I find many entries in the FRI-PL indices in which the principal, whether
newborn, marriage partner, or deceased, does not carry the same surname as
the father. The rule, as I understand it, was that the child of a couple
which was not officially registered as married was considered illegitimate,
and not entitled to bear his father's name. Civil marriage had, and in
principal has, little significance for Jews, since they certainly had a
H.uppah, Ktubba, and ring, and were properly married by a Rav. Perhaps there
were other civil disabilities to not being a registered couple, but that is
not what we are discussing at the moment.

The children of such couples appear in the indices and registrations with
the surname of their mother, or sometimes with no surname at all, being
bastards according to the Christian defnition of legitimacy applied by
Austrian authority (for the information of anyone confused by the foregoing
sentence, the Hebrew term "mamzer" is not at all the same as "bastard").

One can imagine the genealogic havoc wrought by this rule. I have often
wondered why there were so many state-unrecognized couples in western
Ukraine (administered by Austria), while Jews of Russian Poland were
marrying with apparent State blessing, and recorded as such officially,
right down to citation of the three dates on which the Banns were read
before the actual marriage (definitely a State-imposed condition). The
Austrian first-son limitation goes a long way toward explanation. And the
sheer number of Jews with the wrong surname must say something about both
its futility and the narrow-mindedness of Austrian officialdom.

Stan Goodman, Qiryat Tiv'on, Israel

ISMACH: >from Lomza Gubernia, Galicia, and Ukraina
HERTANU, ABRAMOVICI, LAUER: >from Dorohoi District, Romania
GRISARU, VATARU: >from Iasi, Dorohoi, and Mileanca, Romania

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