Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #8


The theme of today's tip is: In-Depth Analysis of Hungarian Marriage Records

Today, I'm going to teach you how to decipher every part of a Hungarian marriage record, and share with you what each piece of information can tell you. I am going to put each piece of the marriage record we're analyzing, into red boxes for ease of use for you, the reader. We will work through this marriage record, step-by-step. For easier viewing, you can click on each image for larger views. Let's begin!

For reference, this is an 1830's marriage record from the Reformed parish of Taktaszada, Zemplén county, Hungary.

The beginning of the record (after the entry number [#6] and the date of marriage [December 17]), states the place of residence of the groom. It states "Dadáról helységünkbe". This states that the groom was a resident of the town of Dada (shortened form of Tiszadada). This tells you that his baptism record may be found in the Reformed parish records of Tiszadada, and that there may actually be another reference to this marriage in the parish records of Tiszadada. It's worth checking both parishes of the groom and bride, to check for two marriage records (one would be a reference to the original marriage), in hopes of the additional marriage record providing additional information not stated on the previous record.

This second box states the name of the groom's parents. Not every marriage record will provide the names of the groom and bride, so you've gotten lucky when it provides their names! This entry states the father and mother are "Hajdú András" (s. f. = és feleség; and wife) "Fónzó Erzsébet". You now have the groom's parents, and information to use to find the groom's baptismal record. You must also take note that since the groom was NOT from the parish in which the marriage is occurring, a name may mistakenly be listed incorrectly. (An example would be: the mother's name was actually Juliánna, but was written as Johanna.) Because the groom was not from the parish in which the marriage was occurring, the parish priest performing (and recording) the marriage didn't have the baptismal records to refer to, to find the groom's baptism and parent's names. The information had to be provided by word-of-mouth, and although rare as it may be, it was occasionally misheard and incorrectly written. Much more reason to check for the additional marriage record in the groom's parish!

This box is easy enough to decipher. It's the groom's name: "Ferencz". This given name is in Hungarian, although it's very common for given names in Hungarian records to be in Latin, and sometimes also in German. Depending on the area your family is from, it could be written in Slovak and Ruthenian, also. I created an excellent guide to Hungarian given names, which includes their English and Latin variations. You can find that here

The next box describes the place of residence of the bride and her family. It states" Baái lakos", which means they were a resident of Baái (correctly written as Báj). As I stated above with the groom's place of residence, it would absolutely be worth your time to check the Reformed parish record of Báj, in hopes of finding another additional marriage record. This marriage record is a unique one, as the bride isn't being wed in her home parish; the bride was almost always married in her home parish. Knowing the place of residence of the bride and her family, you now have a good guess as to where she may have been baptized!

Following the place of residence of the bride's family, is listed the names of the bride's parents. They're names are as follows: "Szentpéteri Mihály" and "Szalai Juliánna". With the place of residence (Báj) and now the name of the bride's parents, you have an even better shot at finding the bride's baptismal record. As I stated above, when the individual "was not from the parish in which the marriage was occurring, the parish priest performing (and recording) the marriage didn't have the baptismal records to refer to, to find the bride's baptism and parent's names. The information had to be provided by word-of-mouth, and although rare as it may be, it was occasionally misheard and incorrectly written. Much more reason to check for the additional marriage record in the bride's parish!" Now all we need is the bride's name.

And finally, we have the bride's name: Rebeka! With her given name, the name of her parent's and her place of origin/residence, you should be able to accurately find her baptismal record! As I stated above, it can sometimes depend on the geographical area in which your family was from, for what language the given name was written in. The obvious choices are Hungarian, German and Latin; but if your family was from northern Hungary, it could very well appear in Ruthenian (a cyrillic script and completely different alphabet than we English speakers use) or Slovak. If your family was from western Hungary, parts of the Banat or other large Germanic settlement areas, the names could appear in German. Moving farther south, you begin to come across Croatian and Serbian names. Far to the north-east you run into Ukrainian and Ruthenian (again), and finally east and south-east you come across Romanian. As I mentioned above, I created a Hungarian given names list with variations in English and Latin; you can find that list here.

This marriage record didn't appear to list any witnesses to the marriage, which leads me to believe that this is actually the testimonial recorded entry of the real marriage record. I suspect that the real FULL marriage record will be found in either Tiszadada or Báj, but likely Báj as it's the bride's parish.


Within this marriage record, it appears that both parents of the groom and bride were living. Occasionally, you will come across a marriage where some of the parents are deceased. I'm going to give you an example of this with an additional marriage record, from the same page as the above marriage. In this record's highlighted boxes, you will find the names of the groom's parents: "néhai Szadai Mihály" and "néhai Nyakas Judit". The word "néhai" is Hungarian for "late" or "deceased". This means that each of the parents are deceased. You will sometimes see "néhai" written shortened as "néh." There's also the Latin variations: condam and quondam. You can find genealogical word lists for the following languages here: Hungarian and Latin.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hungarian Genealogy: Research Tip #7



The theme of today's tip is: Identifying Nobility & Using Their Resources

Discovering a branch of noble ancestors in your Hungarian ancestry can be pretty exciting! When I began my research around 12 years ago, I was delighted to find that my 2nd-great-grandmother, Eszter Tóth, was a noblewoman; this helped to partially prove some family stories that had been passed around for a few decades.

The most important word concerning Hungarian nobility, is "nemes". Nemes literally means 'noble', in Hungarian. It was very common for nobles to be cited as such in church parish registers, with the notation of either "Nemes" or its abbreviation of Ns. You can see an example of "Nemes", in the image to the right; the father is stated as "Tóth László Nemes". The child being baptized in this record, Károly, is my 3rd-great-grandfather.


For most people, to be able to go anywhere or find anything of interest pertaining to your family's nobility, you MUST research as far back and as much as you possibly can into your family, within the church parish registers. For those lucky few who descend from the more elite nobility, you will likely be able to research a few generations, and then easily find your family's pedigree charts and tables in numbers Hungarian nobility publications.

Luckily enough for myself, my noble Tóth family seemed to stay around the Tiszadob area in Szabolcs county. Combined with the Reformed church parish registers and various census and taxation documents, I was able to research my specific Tóth line back to a Mihály Tóth living in Tiszadob in 1725. With all of this information, I began to "hit the books".. the Hungarian nobility books!

Unfortunately for me, Tóth is an extremely common surname; one of the most common surnames in Hungary. That being said, I knew it was going to be a large haul to tackle the substancial amount of nobility information pertaining to the Tóth surname. I would have to weed through all the families to find my one correct family. And I will show you how I did that! The first book I referred to, was Magyarország Családai (Hungarian Families) by Iván Nagy. There are at least 27 different Tóth families in this publication. There was one family that could be a potential match, but they resided in Dombrád; so I eliminated that possibility.



The next publication to check is Magyar Nemes Családok (Hungarian Noble Families), by Béla Kempelen. There are over 120 Tóth families in this publication. That number is extremely daunting, so without knowing more details it would be impossible to find MY family. The next fantastic resource I looked into, was Magyarország Vármegyéi Es Városai (Hungarian Counties and Cities), by Sámuel Borovszky. Within this publication, you can browse noble families within specific counties. I immediately paged to the noble families of Szabolcs county, and low-and-behold, there was a fantastic piece of information! The publication stated that my Tóth family had received their nobility from King Rudolf, and it was recorded in Külső-Szolnok county (modern-day Heves county area), and that Miháy Tóth was a residing in Tiszadob in 1725.

Conducting research within the microfilmed records via the LDS, I found nobility records pertaining to Szabolcs county and I reviewed the data to find anything pertaining to my Tóth family. Within these records, I found the 1725 entry mentioned for Mihály Tóth.


With this key piece of information I was able to find information in Turul, the publication issued by the Hungarian Heraldry & Genealogy society. It was found in 1895's volume 3, in an article that highlighted the noble families whose armalis (patent of nobility) was preserved and recorded in the Lelesz convent in the former Zemplén county. It stated that four Tóth brothers (Imre, Benedek, Jakab & Ambrus) were granted their nobility by King Rudolf in 1580, and that it was recorded/preserved in the Lelesz convent. The Tóth's that were living in 1750, were István son of Mihály and Mihály son of István.

Now knowing all this information, I contacted the proper archive in Slovakia that covers the convent of Lelesz in the former Zemplén county, Hungary. They were able to supply an AMAZING fully digital version of the patent of nobility that was preserved in the Lelesz convent. This document was created in 1580 and was preserved in the convent in 1583, and has been preserved beautifully to the point that you can actually see the shine of the gold leaf in the lettering and the coat of arms on the armalis. Stunning.. absolutely stunning.


So when you discover nobility in your family tree, take all the proper steps to thoroughly document every piece of information you find and to thoroughly check all possible resources. You won't regret it!