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A noble line goes extinct (Ch. 3.9)

Gabriel never had a son, though not for want of trying. He married twice, but the three sons born to his wives all died young. Consequently, the noble Gyllenståhl line went extinct after the very first generation.


From beyond the seas – A history of the Alfort family

 Chapter 3, section 9 


Torpa Church was very much dominated by the Gyllenståhl and Fahnehielm families, and later also the Alfort family. At the time, it would have been undecorated. Photo: Esben Alfort 2017.

A noble line goes extinct

Less than eight months after their wedding, Maria Margareta bore Gabriel a son, whom they called Peder Gabriel. It is unclear whether this early birth was in any way shocking, since he had after all committed to the marriage long before by writing to the royal office. The boy died after 15 months, on the same day as Maria bore him another son, which was consequently given the same name. This second Peder Gabriel survived for five years.

Note: In Torpa church there is a plaque in memory of Peder Gabriel Gyllenståhl, bearing the years 1673-1677. This makes no sense in view of the information in the church registers, so there must be some error. Perhaps a restoration effort has resulted in the wrong year being read and painted.

The coat of arms in honour of Per Gabriel Gyllenståhl. Photo: Esben Alfort 2017.

The couple eventually had six children, but they were never to have any surviving sons. The third child, Brita Maria, only grew to 14 years of age, but after that things started looking up. By now, Gabriel had been ennobled and really needed a son if his title and privileges were to be handed down to the next generation. This was not to be, but at least the next three daughters all survived and married well. Hedevig Margareta married lieutenant Gustaf Adolf Macklier, and Maria Sophia married captain Erik Alfort. The youngest daughter, Märta Christina, married the vice district judge (vice häradshövding) Johan Svanhals.

  • 1. icon-male Peder “Peer” Gabriel (2/3 1673 – 14/6 1674)  icon-times
  • 2. icon-male Peder “Peer” Gabriel (14/6 1674 – 26/1 1679)  
  • 3. icon-female Brita Maria (17/4 1676 – 18/2 1690)  icon-times
  • 4. icon-female Hedevig Margareta Gyllenståhl (10/1 1681 – 7/10 1737)
    •  icon-user 1. Gustaf Adolf Macklier icon-play
    •  icon-user 2. Anders Wetterström icon-play ( icon-forward Östgötasläkten)
  • 5. icon-female Maria Sophia Gyllenståhl (1683 – 22/11 1753)
  • 6.  Märta Christina Gyllenståhl (13/1 1688 – 9/12 1741)
    •   Johan Svanhals icon-play

Maria Margareta died on 5th May 1691, having apparently lived a happy life with her rough-diamond husband, if we are to believe the words of the priest in Torpa:

Maria Margaretha Fahnehielms död 1691: Ao 1691, d. 5. Maji afsomnade i Horaholm(?), den ädle och wällborne fru Maria Margaretha Fahnehielm till Linnekulla, Aspanäs, Sommenäs och Wällb:ne Hr Majorens Gabriels Gyllenståhls fordom kiärälskeliga hustru. Torpa församling.

Maria Fahnehielm’s death 1691. Torpa parish.

A:o 1691, d. 5. Maji afsomnade i Herranom, den ädle och wällborne fru Maria Margaretha Fahnehielm till Linnekulla, Aspanäs, Sommenäs etc., Wälb:ne H:r Majorens Gabriels Gyllenståhls fordom kiärälskelige hustru.

Anno 1691, 5th May, the noble and right honourable lady Maria Margaretha Fahnehielm to Linnekulla, Aspanäs, Sommenäs etc, the right honourable Sir Major Gabriel Gyllenståhl’s dearly beloved wife, passed away in the Lord.

Maria Fahnehielm’s parade coffin in Torpa church. Photo: Esben Alfort 2017.

Catharina Cronhielm.

Catharina Cronhielm.

Gabriel still had no son, so his line would go extinct after its very first generation unless he married a younger woman now. He was not a man to give up when once he had plan, so a year later he was wed to the 18 years old nobleman’s daughter Catharina Cronhielm (2/4 1674 – 2/11 1731). Gabriel had by then reached the respectable age of 48. He had chosen the daughter of district judge (landshövding) in Västerås Polycarpus Krumbygel, ennobled as Polycarpus Cronhielm, and Hebbla Standorph. Her father was actually employed with the reduction committee, whose job it was to confiscate land from the nobility, so they must have had a lot to talk about!

Once again, Gabriel had married wealth, this time in the form of approximately 5000 riksdaler specie. Catharina eventually bore him another three children, but to Gabriel’s regrets, still no son survived.

  • 7. icon-female Ulrica Christina “Stina” Gyllenståhl (23/2 1694 – 19/10 1742)
    •  icon-user Carl du Rietz icon-play
  • 8. icon-female Hebbla Catharina (23/4 1696 – 22/4 1700)  icon-times
  • 9. icon-male Carl Magnus (3/11 1698 – 22/4 1700)  icon-times

Gabriel was now forced to accept that he was not going to have a son, and so he must turn his attention to “conserving” his daughters, i.e. providing them with sufficient means to ensure that they would marry well. He therefore started to sell off some of his many properties. After all, he only needed one for himself and one for each of his daughters – the rest of the fortune might be better for them to inherit in cash. Their share of their mother’s inheritance they had in the main settled at her death, though they would only receive it on marrying.

He had already transferred “several farms and apartments in Östergötland” (åtskilliga Hemman och Lägenheeter i Östergiöthelandh) to district judge Eric Lovisin in 1689, something which would lead to many years of legal dispute with Lovisin’s children after his death, because no payment had in fact been made. Now he sold off several of his other acquisitions. He also mortgaged some of his estates, so it is possible that his money had actually started to run out towards the end of his life. The upkeep of his many properties must after all have been enormous. Nevertheless, his entire fortune was valued at 56,442:21.15 after his death, which was a very substantial sum.

Erik Alfort and his wife inherited the beautiful Liljeholmen manor, the neighbouring farm Hårdaholmen and the cottages Fiskarp, Häggarp and Arnäs in Torpa parish (nowadays in Blåvik parish), as well as Braskebo in Asby parish and the Börgöl Ironworks in Risinge parish for himself and his descendants. Liljeholmen was to be the stronghold of the family for many generations, until it was finally sold to the company Boxholmsbolaget in the latter half of the 19th century. As late as the early 20th century there were still descendants living at Liljeholmen as farm hands.

Liljeholmen i 1905. Foto: Carl Stille.

Liljeholmen in 1905, when there were still a few descendants working there. Photo: Carl Stille.

Gabriel died in 1705, 61 years old and worn out after a very eventful and active life. He was buried in the Fahnehielm family grave in Torpa cemetery. The grave was removed in the 19th century, and the remains of the dead were relocated. Nobody knows exactly where the great Gabriel Gyllenståhl lies now.


 icon-arrow-right The next chapter “The price of willfulness” tells the dramatic story of Gabriel’s daughters and their love lives.


Selected sources for chapter 3

This text is a synthesis of several years of work and is derived from countless sources. Among them are the following.

icon-check   07-08-2018

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