You may have found in a Communion Book that one of your ancestors has a marking indicating they committed a crime or misdemeanor. These markings stay in subsequent Communion Books and even follow a person if they move. The Moving Certificate brings the information to the new parish. More detailed information about the offense can be found from the Church’s Criminal Record Books (Misdemeanor Records, this is how FFHA referes to these records although the records include more serious crimes) if when they are available. Due to the sensitivity of these records, some parishes do not allow genealogists to access them. In other parishes the records are not yet digitized.

Stocks in the Old Church of Sipoo (photograph Anneli Salo).

You can find digitized Criminal Records in both the Uusi Astia service of the National Archives of Finland and the records of FFHA. Some of these records of FFHA are available to everyone, some are only available to members. The following table provides the availability of the Criminal Records of the Fall of 2020. Records, that are less than 100 years old are not yet available.

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The notation used to mark a misdemeanor in Communion Book varies depending on the parish. Some parishes marked them with a Swedish abbreviation Br. B. or Br. Bok (Brotmåls Bok) or Crim. or Krim. (Chriminal Bok). In the Communion Books written in Finnish the abbreviation was usually RK or R.K. (Rikoskirja) or M. K. (Musta Kirja, Black Book). Other books used the symbol § followed by the record number in the Criminal Records Book.

Knife fighter Antti Rannanjärvi (Anders Thomasson Rannanjärvi) has following marking in the Ylihärmä Communion Book of years 1858 to 1864:

Misdemeanor record of knife gighter Rannanjärvi.
Misdemeanor record of knife gighter Rannanjärvi.
The misdemeanor marking of knife fighter Antti Rannanjärvi in the Ylihärmä Communion Book of years 1858 to 1864.

Br. Bok. No 30. Gn Dkapts utsl. 20/4 59 skild fr. sin f. hu Mar. Johdr Orrenmaa.
Criminal Record no. 30. According to the decision of the Chapter (Church Court), the marriage with his first wife Maria Johansdotter Orrenmaa was legally dissolved.

For more information of the crime or misdemeanor on the decision you can check the Criminal Records; however the records of Ylihärmä parish are not available. The only way to get more information on the decision is to go to the Court Records. I would be happy to help you in searching them.

Another example of a criminal marking is seen in the Communion Book of Loppi parish (years 1859 to 1865), Isac Johan Isaksson has a marking Krim. 60:

Farmhand Isak Johan Isaksson b. 23rd February 1803.

The Criminal Records Books of Loppi are available. They are found in the FFHA index Muita luetteloita (Other directories) by name Rikosluettelo. The Book contains Criminal Records of years 1832 to 1883. FFHA has two versions two versions of that book. One version has records that were photographed from the original book (AP). The other has poorer quality photographs taken from the microfilm (TK290):

Loppi. Muita luetteloita
The Church Books of Loppi parish. Other directories.

The records in the Criminal Record Books are numbered consecutively from 1832 to 1883. The record of Isak Johan Isaaksson is on page 5 (figure 13):

fylleri vid gudstjänst.
No 60. Isaak Johan Isaaksson, pliktat vid W. T. [Winter Ting] 1830 för fylleri vid Gudstjenst,
och undergått kyrkoplikt.

No 60. Isakki Juho Iisakinpoika, punished in the winter Thing (Court) of year 1830 for drunkennes during worship and has suffered the Church punishment.

Drunkenness was a common fault in Finland. In addition to the punishment given by the Civil Court, the Church also punished the offender. The punishment could be a warning, a fine, required work for the Church, public humiliation (stocks, cutty stool), public confession, exclusion from the Holy Communion, or separation from the Parish.

Criminal Record Books contain extracts from the Court Records and the Fine Directories which include information about the punishments given. The following extract is From the Criminal Records of Kuorevesi:

Criminal record from Kuorevesi åarish
Förteckning för de personer, hvilka vid innevarande 1854 års Vinter Ting i Längelmäki Sockens samt Kuorehvesi och Eräjärvi kapellens Tingslag blifvit för brott och förbrytelsen till ansvar fällde.
List of the people, who during the past year 1853 have been sentenced in the Winter Thing (Court) of Längelmäki Parish, Kuorevesi and Eräjärvi Capel for crimes and minor offences.

According to this record, Crofter Gustaf Eriksson Palomäki was fined 14 rubles and 40 kopeks for selling illicit spirits. Crofter Johan Fredrik Mattsson Sorsanoja was fined 21 rubles and 60 kopeks for spirit making. Farmhand Gustaf Gustafsson was fined 21 rubles and sentenced to a Church penalty for theft without break in.

If the criminal records is not numbered, in the Communion Book, the record usually gives the year and the reason for the sentence. With this information you can find the event in the Criminal Records. The aforementioned Johan Fredrik Sorsanoja has a following Communion Book marking:

Johan Fredrik Mattsson Sorsanoja. Illicit sprit making
1854 winter ting.
1854. W. T. [Winter Ting] bötfäld för olofl. brånvinstillverkning.
In Winter Thing (Court) 1854, fined for illicit spirit making.

Misdemeanors associated with marriage were also common. Sexual intercourse between the people who were not married (in Swedish lönskaläge or lägersmål, in Finnish salavuoteus) was illegal. The record below is an example: Maid Ulrika Joonaantytär was fined in the Winter Thing (Court) of Isokyrö (the Orisberg Works Parish).

Första resa lönskaläge.
Maid Ulrika Jonasdotter Alanen was sentenced in the statutory Winter Thing of Isokyrö District Court on 1855 for first time fornication.

Also conflicts within a family might be processed in court. For example crofter’s wife Justiina Joelintytär was fined for controversy and discord in marriage (Alastaro Parish):

Riitaisuus ja eripuraisuus aviosäädyssä
No 104.
Tammiaisten Torpparin vaimo Justiina Joelintytär Alajoki. Sakotettu riidasta ja eripuraisuudesta aviosäädyssä.
Tammiainen crofter’s wife Justiina Joel’s daugter Alajoki. Fined for controversy and discord in marriage.

A conviction for theft could result in corporal punishment. Crofter Salomoni Matinpoika received a flogging and a public Church penalty due to his conviction (Alastaro Parish):

15 paria raippoja ja kirkonrangaistus
No 22.
Kankare Torp. Salomoni Matinpoika Rajala
1846 varkaudesta saanut 15 paria raippoja ja käynyt julkisen kirkon rangaistuksen.
Kankare Crofter Salomoni Matti’s son Rajala. 1846 got 15 lashes with a pair of whips and got a public Church penalty.

The amount of detail in the Criminal Records varies by parish. In some cases, you get almost all the information recorded in the Court records. Sometimes the criminal record is incomplete and does not even give the punishment. In that case you need to learn the details from the Court Records. The information given in the Criminal Records help you locate the Court Records.

Information about smaller misdemeanors and Church penalties such as warnings can be found in the Absolution Records. I will describe them in the next post. The information in the absolution records is similar to the information in the Criminal Records. Some parishes used them instead of Criminal Records for lesser crimes.

English text edited by Barbara Wilson