Possible Swedish ancestors after all

There is a long held and often cherished belief that the Wynekens originally came from Sweden. My cousin Nick, for example, was very disappointed when he found out from me many years ago that we probably are not descended from vikings. He has always been extremely proud of that, and from what I gather is still somewhat obsessed by the vikings despite my claim that they have nothing to do with us.

I have some tentatively good news for Nick, though. My database shows that Peter Christoph Wyneken (lived from 1644 to 1683/1684), my 7G grandfather (that’s seven “greats” in front of “grandfather”), was married to Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff. Anna is the daughter of Lorenz von Werdenhoff, one of three brothers who were born in Bremen, Germany but were recruited by the Swedish crown to gain possession of and administer three estates in Ingermanland, English Ingria. The only stipulation they was that they were to take along enough German workers and peasants to take care of the property and make it profitable.

Werdenhoff crest

The Werdenhoff crest

The three brothers were knighted by the Swedish crown in 1652 and in 1675 their names were added to the official rolls of the Swedish nobility in the riddarhus in Stockholm.

Now, when I first heard this story I assumed that Ingria was part of Sweden. When I looked it up, was surprised to discover that even though it once belonged to the Swedish crown, it is not even located on the Scandinavian peninsula. As a matter of fact, it is located in an area that is now part of Russia, more familiar to us as the region around St. Petersburg.

Now, the von Werdenhoffs were German, so where does actual Swedish blood enter our veins? The answer is that Lorenz von Werdenhoff’s wife was Catharina Åkerfelt, daughter of a true Swedish family with an actual Swedish name. The above mentioned rolls of the Swedish nobility list a tidy bit of her family starting around 1600 and including descendants up through the 1800s.

So, if Peter Christoph Wyneken’s wife truly was Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff, she introduced Scandinavian blood into the Wyneken family by way of her mother. My cousin Nick could realistically go back to believing that some of Anna’s ancestors took turns rowing oars in viking ships. And as Peter and Anna are ancestors of all currently living Wynekens, this could be said for all of us.

Unfortunately … It is not completely certain that the Anna who was married to Peter Christoph really was Anna Elisabeth von Werdenhoff. Maybe it was a completely different Anna. I still need to look closer at my sources for this information to see how plausible the connection is.

Stay tuned …

1 thought on “Possible Swedish ancestors after all

  1. Kristin Dobrowolski

    I have been searching for information on these three Werdenhoff brothers and your website came up. Jost is the brother that my family line comes from to CW Werdenhoff in the 1800’s. Where did you find the story about the brothers moving from Bremen to Ingermanland? That was new information to me. Could you site a few sources? or was it a family story you were told? I would greatly appreciate your help as I’m hoping to write a book about the brothers. Thank you!


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