Family Timeline

Go back in time from the early 16th century to today in this visual timeline.



The earliest occurrence

The earliest occurrence of the name Pohlman known to date found in Brunswick, Germany in 1254

The surname “Pohlmann” has been present in areas where Low German1 is prevalent, probably since at least the early Middle Ages. The earliest known instance of a variation of the name dates back to 1254 – Johann Polemann was a preacher at St. Martin in Braunschweig. The surname Pohlmann was also present in many other cities prior to the Thirty Years’ War, such as Einbeck, Oebisfelde, Stadthagen, Stralsund, Uelzen, and Verden.


Early 1500s

Family established in Germany

Earliest known direct ancestors found in Westphalia, Germany who were ennobled there

The earliest known direct Pohlman or Polman ancestors found in the Holy Roman Empire in present-day Germany. It is said that the family came from the parish of Hille, Westphalia, where there was a noble family Polman, whose coat of arms depicted an arm holding a ring.

Mid 1500s

The Patriarch

Jürgen Polman the Elder born in Livonia in the mid to late 16th-century

Jürgen Polman (The Elder) was born in the mid- to late 16th century and considered the progenitor of the Swedish family Påhlman. At least one account pronounces him the son of Hans Polman, a county clerk in Padise in present-day Estonia.



Jürgen Polman serves the Swedish Crown

In 1601, Jürgen Polman enters the service of Duke Karl of Södermanland

In 1600, Jürgen entered the service of Duke Karl of Södermanland, future sovereign of Sweden. Around this time, in exchange for a sum of money that Jürgen had formerly advanced to the Duke, Jürgen was given the manor Piigandi (Pigant). 

Jürgen became a captain or hauptman at Anzen (Antsla) in Estonia in 1601. Duke Karl wrote to him expressing his delight that Jürgen had succeeded in enlisting more than a hundred farmers during the Polish-Swedish War (1600-1611).

In 1613, Jürgen was granted the power of attorney to be the steward and commander of Padise.


Pohlmannsche Hof

A Hermann Pohlmann can be found in Hille, who owned the Pohlmannsche Hof or Meyerhof, part of a family branch who resided in Westphalia

The family is said to originate from Westphalia, where in the county of Ravensberg and in the parish of Hille there was a family of Pohlman, who bore an arm holding a ring in the coat of arms.

The family owned a farm in Hille, the so-called Meyerhof or Pohlmannsche Hof, and a Herman Pohlman is buried in Hille church, along with his wife and their son, Johan, born 1619-06-13, died 1622, as well as several members of the family.


Siege of Riga

In 1621, Jöran was among the officers under Wrangel who captured the fortress of Riga during the Thirty Years’ War, ensuring Swedish control over the coasts of the Baltic

After the Swedes gained control of Pärnu in northern Livonia, Gustavus Adolphus turned his attention to Riga. It was here that Herman Wrangel’s officers would wield their might. The king’s troops arrived in the summer of 1621 and, after a siege of just over a month, Riga finally surrendered. Jöran Polman the Younger was among the officers under Wrangel who captured the fortress of Riga during the Thirty Years’ War, ensuring Swedish control over the coasts of the Baltic.


Jöran Polman the Younger

Like his father, Jöran Polman the Younger joined the military and rose through the ranks

Jöran started out as a noble bursch in the bodyguard in 1619, then became a hovjunkare – duties for this rank typically involved overseeing the king’s guest room, serving food to royals, and commanding the horsemen. In 1623, he worked his way up to become captain of the Kronoberg regiment.

That same year, Jöran married Christina Lilliesparre af Fylleskog. Through his marriage, he was fortunate enough to become the owner of the manor Ugglansryd in Ryssby.


Manors gifted for service

King Gustavus Adolphus grants Jürgen the estate of Oethel

In 1631, Jürgen Polman the Elder received the estate and manor of Öötla (Oethel) in Estonia’s St. Petri parish as a donation from King Gustavus Adolphus, which he had previously received as a grant in 1624. When Jürgen died in or before 1641, his widow Gertrud was allowed to retain Öötla. It remained in the family for several generations, passing to Jürgen’s son Claus Polman (von Pohlmann), and later coming into the ownership of Reinhold Wilhelm II von Pohlmann.


Swedish nobility

Johan and his brother, Gustaff, are knighted at Stockholm Castle by Queen Kristina with the name Påhlman

On 16 September 1650, four years before she abdicated the throne, Queen Kristina knighted the Polman brothers at Stockholm Castle, despite their evidential documents not being considered fully satisfactory. Later, she also permitted their sister to be included in their nobility.

The family name thus transitioned to the more Swedish “Påhlman”, and they were introduced on 3 October 1650 in the third (journeyman) class under the current No. 501.



Battle of Poltava and a prisoner of war

Carl Gustaf Påhlman taken prisoner in Perevolochna during the fateful Battle of Poltava; banished to Siberia for 14 years

In 1709, Carl Gustaf was taken prisoner in Perevolochna during the fateful Battle of Poltava, a decisive battle with Russia which Sweden lost, and with it much of its power in Europe. Only a few, including Karl XII, managed to escape. Carl Gustaf, along with the majority of the Swedish army – including his elder brother, Göran – was banished to Tobolsk in Siberia.

Carl Gustaf returned to Stockholm only in 1723, two years after the end of the Great Northern War. In 1730, at the age of 51, he married his young bride Christina Elisabet Renner.


Estonian nobility

Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann and his brothers were included in the Estonian nobility

In 1754, Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann successfully presented evidence of the family’s noble origin to the Matrikul Commission of Estonia. Along with his brothers Otto, a cornet, and Gustav, a lieutenant colonel in Russian service, Reinhold Wilhelm was included in the Estonian nobility.


The Class of Knights

In 1778, the family promoted to the second (knight) class which had been re-established at Riddarhuset

According to a decree of The House of Nobility, in 1626 the noble dignity was divided into three classes: the Class of Lords (counts, barons); the Class of Knights (untitled descendants of Swedish Privy Councillors); and the Class of Esquires (other untitled nobles). 

In 1778, Gustav III restored the classes and class voting and at the same time he reformed the Class of Knights. Originally this class only contained family descendants of Privy Councillors and was the smallest class of the three classes. But Gustav III also introduced in this class the 300 oldest families in the Class of Esquire and also the “commander families”, who are of the descendants of commanders of the Order of the Northern Star and the Order of the Sword.

The Påhlman family were thus promoted to the Class of Knights. 


Order of St. Anna

During the reign of Emperor Peter III, Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann awarded the Order of St. Anna 1st degree

On 9 June 1762, during the short reign of Peter III (who would be overthrown exactly a month later in a coup d’état by his wife Catherine), Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann was awarded the Order of St. Anna, first class, an order of chivalry typically bestowed by the sovereign. It was not a common honour, commending individuals for achievements in civil or military service. Recipients of the first class received hereditary nobility.


Catherine the Great’s request

Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann was called, by a personal Imperial decree, from his villages to St. Petersburg: the Empress Catherine the Great entrusted his care to her Princess Augusta of Württemberg (born in 1764, died in 1788), who lived at the court

In 1786, Reinhold Wilhelm von Pohlmann was summoned to St. Petersburg by a personal imperial decree. Catherine the Great asked him to become the guardian of Princess Auguste of Brunswick, who was unhappily married to the abusive Prince Frederick of Württemberg.

Lohde was then transferred to Reinhold Wilhelm, who would manage the income and expenses of the estate. The princess would reside at Lohde, and Reinhold Wilhelm was asked to accompany and remain with her, alongside her maid Miss Sander, a Mrs. Wilde, and Reinhold Wilhelm’s two daughters.

However, on 16 September 1788, Auguste died suddenly of incessant vaginal bleeding, the exact cause of which is unknown. Reinhold Wilhelm, disturbed by Auguste’s death, wrote to Catherine three days later, followed by a medical report.



Upholding social justice

Otto Fredrik Påhlman became a powerful defender of the Jews in the attacks against them during the Riksdag

In the early 1800s, the small Jewish community in Sweden was being blamed for the prevalent economic crisis due to alleged extravagance and import trade. The bourgeoisie called for immigration bans, with some even favouring expulsion. Otto Fredrik Påhlman, in line with his liberalism, strongly defended the rights of the Jews. He advocated for their civil rights and for the abolishment of restrictions against the community. 

The bourgeoisie – and the Crown Prince, who was caught off-guard – attempted to punish Otto Fredrik but were unsuccessful, and his views “gave rise to a long and heated feud in newspapers and pamphlets.” He was even accused of being paid by the Jewish community for publishing texts in their favour.

Otto Fredrik published his views in the press, and faced calls for abdication which the Crown Prince managed to temporarily abate. These led to debates about the freedom of expression, and Otto stood his ground with support from his estate. Eventually, a Special Committee submitted a report acknowledging that the allegations against the Jews were biased and misconceived.


Påhlman writing method

Thanks to his beautiful handwriting, Otto Magnus Påhlman develops a writing method which he began to teach

In 1841, Otto Magnus Påhlman entered Russian service and for several years was active as a teacher at the Imperial Cadet School in Saint Petersburg. During this time, Påhlman developed a new writing method, according to which he began to teach in 1846. Since he returned to Sweden, Påhlman devoted himself entirely to teaching writing according to his method. Typical of the teaching were two simple basic shapes – a straight line and a semi-oval, from which all the letters of the alphabet could be put together. The Påhlman writing method, which was later further developed by his two sons Otto and John Påhlman.


Broderna Påhlmans established

Otto Magnus Påhlman’s sons — Otto Ottosson and John Magnus Ottosson — founded the Broderna Påhlmans based on their father’s writing method, which later became Påhlmans Handelsinstitut

Påhlmans Handelsinstitut had its origins as a writing institute established by Otto Magnus Påhlman (1811-1873) in Stockholm in 1846. The activities of the institute expanded gradually as it went from teaching students not only how to write, but what to write, until in 1881 the sons of Otto Magnus Påhlman, Otto Påhlman (1853-1915) and John Magnus Påhlman (1860-1945), decided to convert the writing institute into a business school, which was known as Broderna Påhlmans (Påhlman Brothers). In 1887 Otto Påhlman left to set up a similar school in Copenhagen which eventually became completely independent of the parent school in Stockholm.



Shield letter deposited in Riddarhuset

The original shield letter has been deposited in Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility in Stockholm, since 1918

The shield letter (Swedish: sköldebrev) is the certificate of nobility itself. They were issued by the reigning monarch, and determine the coat of arms, the apperance of the coat of arms, and usually the noble name.  It also contained an image of the weapon and a detailed description of the blazoning. This information was then the basis for the painting of the copper plate. In 1918, the original shield letter for the Påhlman family was donated to Riddarhuset, the House of Nobility in Stockholm, where it has been deposited since.