Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Some new findings (20 June 2018)

Origins of the Winger family

The first discovery I will share with you concerns the ancestors of my great-great-grandmother Maria Birgitte Winger (1877-1942). The Winger line goes back to the mining town of Kongsberg in the early 1700s. The earliest definitely documented ancestor is one Ole Christophersen Aarstad or Winger who was born around 1723 and got married in Kongsberg in 1754. I haven't found his confirmation in Kongsberg, so he may have been from somewhere else. However, there is an Ole Christophersen who was baptized in Kongsberg in 1723; he was the son of one Christopher Kirsch (the surname is spelled in a variety of ways, but I believe Kirsch is the most correct spelling), who married Anna Svendsdatter in 1706. The couple had children in Kongsberg at least between 1708 and 1725.

Christopher Kirsch is listed in the Kongsberg Silverworks census of 1724, where his age is given as 42 (i.e. born about 1682) and his birthplace is listed as Kongsberg. His surname indicates a German ancestral origin. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out any more about Christopher Kirsch's background as of yet. The Kongsberg silver mine was originally dominated by Germans recruited from Saxon mines; our original immigrant Kirsch ancestor is very likely to have been one of them.

I find it very interesting that our Winger family might originally have been called Kirsch. If I have found the right connection, then I wonder why they decided to change the name. The name Winger does seem to pop up out of nowhere; perhaps it comes in through Ole Christophersen's mother or wife. This did happen with the Knoff name, much more recently in my family history.

A great honour for Thomas Knoff

The second discovery I will share with you this week is that I found a notice in the London Gazette in 1908 announcing that my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Hans Knoff (60 years old at the time) was to be made Honorary Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. He seems to have taken part when King Edward VII visited Norway. Thomas is said to have been "Attached to His Majesty King Edward VII", which would imply some sort of personal connection. This is an extremely interesting fact about Thomas' life, which I did not know about before.

At this time, Thomas was married to an Englishwoman (his second wife, Eva Capel Haviland), which explains his close ties to England.

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