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Inhabitants of Glaumbær

Snorri Þorfinnsson, son of Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir and Þorfinnur Karlsefni, was a farmer at Glaumbær in 11th century. In the Sagas Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir was without doubt one of the most widely-traveled women of her time. Click here form more information about the far-traveller and the first farmers at Glaumbær farm. 

Glaumbær was a privately owned estate up until the Reformation in the middle of the 16th century. The landowners at Glaumbær were either in holy orders themselves, or else employed private chaplains who served the church. In the spring of 1550, Jón Arason, Iceland’s last Catholic bishop, endowed the estate as a church property and a pastor’s residence. Many leaders of the Skagafjördur region, both in the ecclesiastical and temporal spheres, were incumbents at Glaumbær. Experience shows that the clergymen of Glaumbær were content with their lot: between 1590 and 1849, no incumbent of the parish moved away to serve another parish. Many of the clergymen also ran large and prosperous estates.

Glaumbær in 1898. Photo/Joh. KleinAccording to the 1703 census, the Glaumbær household was comprised of 11 people: the pastor, his wife, their three young children, three laborers, two women servants, and two older women. In 1801, the household numbered 12 people: the pastor, his wife, two foster children and a grown-up daughter, a woman lodger and her teenage son, two laborers, and two woman servants. Half a century later, in 1845, the household had grown considerably to number 24 people: the pastor, his wife and daughter, the pastor’s mother-in-law and her three children (young siblings of the pastor’s wife), one laborer who was also a saddler and his two apprentices, three other laborers, six women servants, and a four-year-old pauper. The farm also functioned as a school and old people’s home: boys would spend part of the year at the pastor’s home, where they were given a groundwork in reading, writing, mathematics, natural science, geography, history, Danish, and Latin. Pastors also took in elderly people who were unable to look after themselves. They handed over their property to the pastor and in return received bed and board for whatever work they could contribute.