Forest Wood Rosemaling Art & Craft

Amanda's Rosemaling and Traditional Crafts (Husfliden)

Peder A. Birk a.k.a. Peder Junker

The following information on one of my (4x great) uncle's son was most kindly given to me by B. Schmidt, Esbjerg, Danmark, who obviously spent considerable time reserching our ancestors. Please be aware that this information is his and not to be used for other purposes. The article is written in Danish and kindly translated by L Lanng, Randers Danmark. I am most grateful to both of these people for this amazing insight into this cheeky fellow. Had he not run foul of the law it is highly doubtful we would be able to have such a clear description of him.
Amanda McLaughlin

Peder Andersen Birk (1763)

Peder Andersen Birk was born in 1763 in the parish of S. Felding, Hammerum county. His father was a farmer and his uncle was the clergyman of S. Felding and Assing parish.Sonder Felding pictured on left and Assing Kirke pictured on the right.

As a very young man he came to serve as a chicken-shepherd at Moeltrup estate in Timring parish, and was later hired as servant to the owner of the estate; Master Rudolf Linde. Here he served for 3½ years and was since known as Peder Junker (Master= Junker).

At the age of 18 he was hired as a school-teacher, and served as such several places; Vinding, Assing, Snebjerg, Fjelstervang and other places in the middle of Jutland.

On 3/1 1787 he was engaged to the servant-girl Anne Cathrine Christensdatter (Pedersdatter), who served in Lustrup in Skarrild parish. Lights were lit in the church for the engaged couple, but the apparently somewhat unreliable fiance disappeared and the wedding had to be postponed. Skarrild kirke pictured here.

Birk (or as he was commonly called; Peder Junker) had taken a job as a school-teacher in Anst parish. In the spring he went to Copenhagen where he was hired as a farm-aid at a well known brewer. For about a year his fiance was unaware of his whereabouts. Yet another obstacle stopped the wedding: two men appeared at the reverend in Skarrild with a ban against the marriage of a woman from their parish. The reverend told them that they would have to issue a subpoena against Mr. Birk. This was not done however. All this was probably the reason why Peder Andersen Birk left Skarrild

Early in 1788 Birk came back to Skarrild  and asked the reverend Hegelahr to wed him to Anne Cathrine Christensdatter (Pedersdatter), who had given birth to a child shortly after their engagement. As the reason for his departure he stated poverty. The reverend took pity at the obvious poverty and performed the service without a fee. The couple stayed in Lustrup for 13 years, and bought a small property there. In the winter the man was usually the school-teacher at the nearby parishes.

In about 1800 they moved from Lustrup to Bolkvig in Borris parish, and in 1811 Peder Andersen Birk bought a farm; blacksmith-farm at Overby Gammelmark in S.

Felding Parish. Stream near township of Borris.


Part 2

The School Master Became Prisoner

In the court documents of Hammerum shire there are notes from the interrogation where Peder Andersen Birk was accused of several things.

At his first interrogation on July 15th 1815, it was revealed that the accused had committed several petty thefts. One day as he walked on a path at Fruergaard field, he stole a harness made of horse-hair. The theft was discovered and the harness given back.

One night he snuck in to Farmer Poul Hartvigsen barn in Vesterbjerge and stole 4 Skeppe (an old measurement) rye. The farmer suspected Peder Andersen Birk, and together with two other men he approached him. Birk confessed and pleaded that he'd be free of charges. Poul Hartvigsen agreed, but demanded the rye back.

In both these cases Birk got off without any charges.

Now however the charge was forgery, and this came about at the request of one Frantz Baltzersen , a gypsy, who asked him to make a false engagement certificate.

On the basis of this certificate Frantz Baltzersen was wed on October 15th 1814 at Erritsoe church, to Karen Pedersdatter, and was later accused of bigamy, since he was already married to another woman (Sophie Jensdatter of Kvemberg; Dejbjerg parish).

Peder Andersen Birk was brought before the court loose and available by two men who had picked him up at (Overby) Gammelmark in S. Felding, where he resided.

In court he was presented with the engagement certificate which Frantz Baltzersen had used when he entered his second marriage. The charge was, that the accused Peder Andersen Birk had written this certificate, signed it with false names and stamped it with a false stamp.

During the interrogation the accused claimed that he didn't know Frantz Baltzersen very well. He had met him a few times in Ahler in Vorgod parish, and the last time he saw him was in his house where he stopped to ask for directions to Brande. In court was presented a note from Elbo Brusk shire extra court, where it became clear that Frantz Baltzersen had confessed to getting the certificate in question from the accused.  Birk denied this adamantly. He had not written, signed or stamped the certificate, which he now saw for the first time.

The judge now encouraged the accused not to give false testimony. Everything pointed to his guilt, and by lying he would only hurt his own case, prolong his arrest and risk a harder sentence. After this reminder Birk confessed, and explained how the forgery had come about. One day early in September 1814 he came home and found Franz Baltzersen and a woman, Karen Jensdatter of Erritsoe near Frederecia , in his house. They both asked him manufacture a certificate of engagement, so that they could get married. Although they pleaded, the accused was not persuaded. They then left his house and stayed the night at inn-keeper Peder Mathiesen at Gaardsvig Mark, whose wife was Baltzers aunt.

The next day around noon they returned to the house of the accused, and he was now persuaded to write the certificate. Baltzersen had a work-book that was signed by vicar H.J.Hansen, and Birk confessed to have forged his name on the false certificate.

As truthful witnesses he had written down the names of two men whose writings he knew; Anders Persen, Store Ahle and Mikkel Nielsen of Abildtrup. Then he printet his personal sign on the paper; P. Birk.

The accused claimed not to know that Franz Balterzersen was already married to another woman (Sophie Jensdatter) in Kv�rnberg, Dejbjerg parish, but he did know that he had wandered around the country with this woman, like gypsies, and bred children with her too. He also knew that the woman in question was still alive � he received 7 Rigsdaler (a Danish current) in bills for his false document.

After the interrogation the trial was postponed for 8 days.

The judge decided at Peder Andersen Birk was to be put under observation at Gelleruplund and he was surrendered into the charge of two men from Gellerup. It was their job to keep him safely guarded. Peder Andersen Birk was then put in jail, but though they were two, he still managed to escape and wandered about in the country for 5 years as a beggar. He was arrested in Ringkøbing, in Holstebro and in AAbenraa, but he succeeded in escaping every time. "He was not available" as it is said in a court document from Hammerum shire court. His case was put away for 3 years, but on June 6th 1818 he was sentenced to two years in prison in absentia.

Finally he was caught though, and he was taken to his hometown. August 17 1820 Peder Andersen Birk, also known as Junker, was presented in court for the second time. For more than 5 years he has wandered about, been to most parts of Jutland and his wrap sheet was long. Everywhere he would beg, and his greatest asset was his ability to make 'Fire letters".. By showing false fire letters he collected a lot of money. He admitted having written four of these, and signed them with names of priests from Vorgod, S. Omme, Rind and Brande, and the names of other well-known men. His first false "Fire letter" was dated; Rind vicarage May 9th 1819 and signed with the name Friborg. He was posing as one Nicolaj Thomasen who had lost all of his estate and all of his livestock in a fire. His begging brought him a great deal of money, and a blacksmith from Holmsland had his 12 year old son drive around the parish with Birk to collect rye and barley to help the presumed Nicolaj Thomasen. After that the accused went to Viborg County. At estate-owner Rosborg of Hald he was given a note with 1 rigsdaler, but he later changed the number one into two, to encourage others to give more.

His fraud was discovered, he was arrested and taken to Ringkøbing prison. From here he escaped the following day. A couple of months later he was arrested in Bjerre shire, north of Vejle. Here he was accused of fraud at a watch-shop. Because he was wanted in his hometown he was, under heavy guarding and with shackles on both hands and feet, brought to Hammerum shire. By evening they arrived at Klovborg, and here they spent the night.


Part 3

The Flight from Klovborg and the Continuous Straying

 At the interrogation 17/8/1820 Birk accounted for how he had managed to escape the guardsmen at Klovborg prison.he had kept awake, and when he assumed that both his guardsmen and the rest of the people in the house were asleep, he snuck out of bed, kept his prison chain still, took some clothes in the house and with that in his arms he snuck out of the house. After that he ran as fast as he could north. He couldn't wear the clothes he had brought, because the prison chain was in the way, but he tied it to his body as well as he could. Later he succeeded in breaking the chain with a couple of rocks, and then he put on the clothes. He ran on and entered several farms and villages on the way. He pretended that his name was Peter Pedersen, and that he was a teacher from Nr. Snede, and he was given some money for singing hymns for people. In Viborg he took lodgings with a man, who supplied him with 3 sheets of paper, a pen and a bottle of ink. This material he used to write a new "fire-letter" (a fire-letter is a letter that allows you to beg for money, to raise money to build a new house after a fire). On the second piece of paper he wrote three songs, which he had composed during his stay at Bjerre prison. He delivered the songs to a printer in Viborg, who promised to print them, and asked Birk to deliver more of the same kind The songs were signed; P. Pedersen, writer.

For 14 days he wandered around in the northern territory of Viborg, and by showing forged fire-letters, he earned a good living. At his arrest he was in possession of 25 rigsdaler (what preceded the krone).

From Viborg he wandered on south and arrived in Kolding 23/7. Here he approached freight driver Slot, whom he asked for a ride to Haderslev market, which was held 25/7. The freight driver asked him to sit down, and he would soon be told. Then he went away, but soon he returned with a man. He turned out to be the mayor's clerk. When Peder Andersen Birk went out into the streets, this man asked him for his passport, and when he didn't have any, he was arrested. Two men from Hammerum parish, picked him up in Kolding, and this time he didn't manage to escape. It took a long time to review all his deeds. The sentence wasn't published until August 1821 and was set at 2 years in prison. In addition was the 2 years he was sentenced in absentia 6/6 1818. Peder Andersen Birk was on 27/9 1821 taken to Viborg prison to serve 4 years of hard labour. In the prison protocol of inmates, the following was stated at Birk's release; Arrived 27/9 1821 age 58 years. Released 27/9 1825. Behaviour; "barely tolerable". Description; 62 inches tall, strong in shoulders and limbs, has broken out of several arrest-houses.

With grateful thanks to B Schmidt and L Laang.

 "I just love the description of his behaviour. What an amazing fellow. !!!!" (Amanda)

Peder Pedersen Birk (born 1771)

The following information belongs also to B Schmidt and was translated by H Glad Fredrikstad, Norway.

It relates to the third child of Peder Pedersen Birk (born 1738) in Nederby and Apelone Pedersdatter Boedker (born 1737/8) sister to Inger Marie Pedersdatter Birk and Christian Peder Pedersen Birk ( my great great great grandfather)


Peder Pedersen Birk    1 marriage         Tailor, school keeper, church singer and schoolteacher

*9/8 1771 in the school-/church keeper's house (the degn's house) in Nederby

baptised 11/8 1771 in Sdr Felding church

confirmed 15/4 1787 in Sdr Felding church

engaged to be married 4/2 1796 (he a tailor apprentice, she a widow)

married 1796 in Skelskoer church

Giertrud Maria Hansdatter   2 marriages       70 years old

* around 1761

+ 21/9 1831 in Egeslevmagle

buried 26/9 1831 in Egeslevmagle parish church yard.


Peder Pedersen Birk schoolteacher without education in Smidstrup 1798 � 1802


Peder Pedersen Birk is mentioned as a tailor 4/2 1796 ; 4/6 1798 and

31/7 1798 as a school keeper in Egeslevmagle, as tailor in 1801 in Smidstrup,

23/11 1801 as school keeper, 7/2 1802 � 5/9 1837 as church singer and schoolteacher in ->

->Egeslevmagle town: Egeslevmagle parish


he was in 1826 charged at Flakkebjerg police court of some late verbal injuries against

Reverend Bech in Agersoe where Peder Pedersen Birks son (Niels Andreas Pedersen (Birch)), who claimed to have been offended by Bech, was a teacher. At Schroeders tavern in Skelskoer Peder Pedersen Birk had said that Bech was the lowest human being on earth. In police court Peder Pedersen Birk claimed, that this statement had been said in great anger and without thinking, and that he really didn't have any reason or cause to say so. He had to pay 5 marks and pay the costs of the court. (not a large amount of money)

Peder Pedersen Birch and wife live in 1796 in Egeslevmagle, 1801 in Smidstrup and

23/11 1801 in Egeslevmagle: Egeslevmagle parish

Children:5 ( family name of Petersen all born in Agersoe)

One of the sites on the Danish island of Agersoe