Understanding Familianten Records #austria-czech


Hello Austria-Czech SIG:

I have my GGGGF's Familianten Record which was supposedly written in 1811.
There are, however, entries as late as 1825 and all appear to be written by the
same hand. The record says that GGGGF received permission to marry
26 January 1794 and that he died 7 February 1824. It also says that his
parents names were unknown.

My 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?

Am I missing or misreading something?

Many thanks for any help.

Dave Bernard, Sherborn, Massachusetts


Hello Austria-Czech SIG:

My thanks to those who replied to my query. The consensus is that the
Familianten books were not dated and were constructed or copied over a
number of years. As such, they probably cannot be considered primary
genealogical records. And, the recording of a living parent's name as
"unknown" has baffled others. One could surmise that it was simply
"unknown" to the transcriber who (lacking a telephone and email) did
not make further inquiry.

Dave Bernard, Sherborn, MA

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]

Celia Male <celiamale@...>

John Freund of Toronto wrote to me [I have his permission to quote]:
"Hello Celia, my understanding is that although the Familianten law was enacted
in the 1700s, the enforcement and the bureacracy delayed the recordings by
generations. The actual records were most likely copied >from more primitive

John, you are partially correct - but there were early Jewish records and perhaps
Church records which were fragile. I am sure they were enforced and I doubt that
they were primitive though; things were very sophisticated and detailed in those
early days especially when it related to controlling, counting and taxing the
Jews! Few bureacracies can compete with the Habsburgs for data gathering and
records. There were many censuses of Jews in Bohemia and presumably Moravia. Just
enter "census" into the search box on our Austria-Czech home page and you will
find them: 1719, 1722, 1724, 1783, 1793 etc ...

You can also read "In 1724, the first census of all Jews in the Czech lands was
carried out. Approximately 30,000 Jews inhabited 168 towns and 672 villages in
Bohemia and approximately 20,000 lived in Moravia, while 2,335 Jewish families
(approximately 10,500 Jews) were registered in Prague."

So this 1724 census must have been an excellent foundation for the Familianten
laws which were enacted two years later. The fact that in the 1793 census, the
sons are all listed as: erstgeborener, zweitgeborener etc, shows that this
listing was already very well-established in the 1700s.

My gt-gt-gt grandfather Samuel KOHN born in 1762 in Grossbock [Velka Bukovina,
Konigsgratzer Kreis] is listed as a Familiant; so there must have been books
going far, far back. His father born in 1722, Markus KOHN, House No 46,
Grossbock, Bohemia is designated as a Schutzjude of Count Sporck.

I should also have referred everyone to our excellent Austria-Czech site where
you can read the following:


"One other result of the Familianten laws was that the government kept very
good records of which families lived in which towns. The list of Familianten
were collected in the Book of Jewish Familianten [also called "Mannschaftsbuecher"
in Moravia]. Records were collected in 1799 and in 1811 and updated until about
1830. Each record comprised the name of county, registration number of the family
in the whole land (based on "copulatio consensus"), the registration number of
family in the county (set up in 1725), name of the father, his wife, his sons
and a few other family details.... "

Hopefully, Julius and/or Daniel of the Jewish Museum, will let us know if some of
the much earlier records on which these 1799 and 1811 books were based still
exist and what form they took? Were the censuses used directly or were they
transcribed into special books, most of which may have got lost or destroyed when
the big Familianten books [1799 and 1811] were written and bound?

Celia Male [UK]

Julius Muller <library@...>

Dear Genners,
Celia is absolutely right. Censuses 1724 very clearly show the strategy and that
the preparation for strict restriction are very on.
It can be called primitive only in terms of technology used but no in terms of
the consistency. Familiant Books are just a kind of top of the iceberg. You can
surely find incomplete records like missing one or two sons but it only refers
to the person who actually wrote the records - for example looking few pages
further you can find the names of parents that are missing as unbekannt in the
same volume (?!).

Very large agenda on the Jewish familiants was led by Jewish Committee
(Commissio in rebus Judeorum). There si quite large collection on applicitions,
complaints, decrees, re-application, inquiries and other documents related to
restriction policy of the Committee. Just part of it is stored in 85 dusty boxes
in Central archive.

To my knowledge Moravia Familiant books are mostly scattered in Prague Jewish
Museum, Prague Central archive and in Brno regional archive (separately in
different so called Manor repertories).

Julius Muller
Jewish Family History Centre, Prague