Monday, September 17, 2012

That family should be there...

...but it isn't!

Michael wrote me an e-mail asking about quite strange situation. He had some records from the seigniorial registers which indicated Mach family lived in Borkovice village between 1750 and 1790. But - there were no parish records for the family. No marriages, no baptisms, no deaths - nothing at all. How could this happen? One source shows the family, other not? Well, it can happen and I'd like to explain why.

Every house (or family) was a subject to some secular domain. But it was also subject to a clerical domain - usually the parish where whole village belonged. But there were exceptions - it happened that a house belonged to other parish than the rest of the village because the owner of the village (or part of the village) entailed this house to that other parish. 

The house then paid a tithe (tax, 1/10 from the income or harvest) to this parish and people living in this house were visiting masses in this parish, they were married or baptised there and so on. They would then appear in the parish books of this parish and not the parish where the rest of the village belonged.

This was changed in the church reforms made by Emperor Josef II. around 1784 - he ordered that whole village has to belong to one parish. The families appeared from nowhere in the village in 1780's.

How to solve this situation? How to know where to search? The best source are usually cadastral books - it would be mentioned there to which parish (church) is the family paying the tithe. But the cadastral books are not (yet) online.

Another way of solution is to to take a map of the parishes (which is for Southern Bohemia area available in Trebon archives) and check surrounding parishes to see if the family appears somewhere. It's often the right way to find out where the family belonged.

Michael was successful in his search and I'm really happy about that fact. And I hope that if you ever have such situation, you'll also be able to solve it.


  1. Interesting. I didn't know that individual houses could belong elsewhere!

    Usually when I find a strange situation like that, I try to figure out what other parishes cover the same estate. The Belcice parish (Trebon) and the Kasejovice parish (Plzen), for instance, cover the Lnare estate. When you've done a lot of research in one place and are familiar with the towns around it, it's easier to do that. I have other family who come from okres Rokycany area, though, and I don't know what the estates were there. I wish there was some kind of list that told which villages were part of which estates. It would make searching a lot easier!

    1. Hello Rose, yes, even a single house could belong to some other domain.

      The list of domains and belonging villages is available in Frantisek Palacky's Popis kralowstwi ceskeho (Description of the Czech Kingdom). Thanks for the inspiration for next blog post!

    2. This is online at Is there a similar book for Moravia?

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