Ancestors of Sonja Lissie Parsons

Anna Johanna Nielsen, her relatives and ancestors

Anna Nielsen (née Nielsen) was the present author’s maternal grandmother. She was Danish and lived in Copenhagen which is Denmark’s capital city. Her only child, Lissie, married a British Naval Officer called Frank Edward Parsons. Frank’s father, Sidney Alfred Parsons, was born in Southampton in southern England but was descended from a line of farmers in Dorset and Somerset. Frank’s mother, Rose Dorothy Bennett, also came from Southampton and most of her ancestors had come from nearby parts of the county of Hampshire. Lissie Parsons née Nielsen thus provided the link between the Danish families briefly described here and the English Parsons families who are the main subjects of these web pages.

The picture on the right, taken in the early 1960s, shows Anna Nielsen with her husband Max Nielsen.

Anna was born on the 9th of February 1905 in Hjortespring which was then a rural area to the north-west of Copenhagen but has since been consumed by the growth of the city. Hjortespring was in the parish of Herlev and that was the church in which Ann baptised in May of the year 1905. She was the second child of Søren Winther Nielsen and his wife Bertha. Søren and Bertha had just one other child, Ingeborg Marie, who was about two and a half years older than Anna. Anna and Ingeborg had very different personalities; Ingeborg was rather prim and proper while Anna was wilder and more adventurous. When they were young they were not close but many years later they and their husbands became good friends.

Herlev is underlined in red on the map on the left.

Anna’s father Søren was asthmatic and would have found it difficult to pursue a normal career. His parents were well off and had paid for his brothers to be educated at university; one of them became a priest. Søren was instead provided with a smallholding near Hjortespring, the village where he was living with his parents at the time of his marriage.

The smallholding was called Mosedal. The house had been built in 1869 and Søren lived there until 1932. It is no longer standing having been demolished in 2001.

Despite his illness Søren rescued a fisherman who had fallen into a pond on his land and was awarded a medal by King Frederick VIII. The fisherman was one of two men from Copenhagen who had paid for the right to fish on Mosedal’s land. A description and images of the medal can be found at ‘Medaljen for Druknedes Redning awarded to Søren Nielsen’.

Anna’s father eventually sold his smallholding Mosedal and moved with his family to nearby Husum which was a little closer to Copenhagen. They lived in a house, part of which they converted into a dairy, and they also had a grocer’s shop on the opposite side of the road (the addresses were numbers 1 and 2 Haraldstedvej).

In 1926 or 1927 Anna met Max Nielsen who was a soldier stationed at a barracks near Copenhagen during his compulsory military service. She fell pregnant and they decided to marry. The service was at Brønshoj Church on the 26th of September 1927. Their child, a girl called Lissie, was born about six weeks later. Lissie was to be their only child.

Max had worked at a windmill in the small village of Gedsted in Jutland but after marrying Anna he lived with her at her parents house in Husum. He worked for a while as a casual labourer in the docks while he looked for a more permanent job and after a while he was taken on as a street-car driver for the Copenhagen tramways.

Anna’s father died in 1932 after which Max and Anna took over the house in Husum (and its debts). It was built of wood but Max embarked on an ambitious reconstruction using reclaimed bricks which the family laboriously cleaned by hand.

In 1945, after the end of the German occupation of Denmark, Max bought a sizeable plot of land with a small summerhouse on it near the village of Tisvilde which is about 60km north of Copenhagen. The land was large enough for another five plots so Max had it legally divided and sold them. He refurbished the summerhouse several times and eventually brought it up to a comfortable modern standard. The house was near to the farm Tisvildegård. The painting below shows the farm as it appeared looking south westwards from Anna and Max’s summerhouse. Note the watch-tower which was built during the German occupation of Denmark in World War II and was still standing in the 1960s.

Max sold the house in Husum and bought a block of six apartments in Copenhagen. It was in Hildursgade in the Nørrebro district. He and Anna lived in one of the apartments while the others were rented out. He soon realised, though, that being an on-site landlord could be rather onerous so he sold the block. He and Anna stayed on in their apartment as tenants.

In 1948 Anna and Max’s daughter Lissie met an English officer of the Royal Navy whose ship was visiting Copenhagen for repairs. She married him and went to live in England.

Max retired early from his job as a streetcar driver after which he used his handyman skills to supplement his pension. During the winters he and Anna lived in their apartment in Copenhagen and in summer time they stayed in their summerhouse.

After Anna’s husband Max died in November 1984 she continued to live in their Copenhagen apartment for some years until she retired to the Håndværkerhaven care home. She died in 1997.

Anna Nielsen’s sister Ingeborg

Ingeborg Marie Nielsen was two and a half years older than Anna. She was born in 1905 and baptised at Herlev Church on the 14th of May which, it was noted in the parish register, was the third Sunday after Easter.

In about 1927 Ingeborg married Otto Øder. Otto worked as a gentlemen’s outfitter in an up-market Copenhagen department store called Julius Kopp, a job which he held for the whole of his working life. He and Ingeborg eventually became close friends of Anna and Max. They were a refined, old-fashioned, couple who lived a quiet life in their house in the suburb of Brønshoj. They had no children but they were the favourite uncle and aunt of Anna and Max’s daughter Lissie who often stayed with them.

During the German occupation of Denmark in the second World War, Otto and Ingeborg provided lodgings for the well known author Martin Hansen who had put himself at risk by writing articles which had inspired some Danes to join the armed resistance. Martin lived nearby but he slept at the Øder’s house in case the German authorities tried to arrest him which they would usually do at night time. After the war he gave the Øders a porcelain figure of a winged horse, “Pegasus”, to thank them.

Ingeborg and Otto Øder both died in the mid to late 1970s.

Anna and Ingeborg Nielsen’s ancestors


•  Søren Winther Nielsen, Anna and Ingeborg’s father, was born in Copenhagen on the 26th of July in the year 1876. In 1896 he and his parents moved to Hjortespring and there he married Bertha Olsen. They had two children, both of whom were girls. He was asthmatic and the family provided him with a market garden with which he was able to earn a living. Despite his disability he rescued an angler, who was fishing in a pond on his land, from drowning in circumstances which put his own life at risk, and for that he was awarded a medal by the King of Denmark, Frederick VIII. After some years in Hjortespring Søren moved to Husum where he had a dairy and a grocer’s shop. He died in October 1932 and was buried in Herlev churchyard.

•  Bertha Johanne Caroline Olsen was Anna and Ingeborg’s mother. She was born in Hjortespring on the 5th of September 1876 and grew up there with her parents. She married Søren in Herlev church on the 27th of October 1901.


•  Lauritz Malthe Nielsen was Søren Winther Nielsen’s father. He was born near Odder, in eastern Jutland, about 15km south of the city of Aarhus, on the 27th of March 1843. As a young man he worked for a while on a farm in Aalestrup which is, coincidentally, very near to Gedsted where years later Anna Nielsen’s husband Max Nielsen would work at a windmill. Malthe (as he seems to have been known) moved to Copenhagen where he kept a bar in Østervold and married Viktoria Jensen. In 1896 he gave up the publican’s trade and moved to Hjortespring with his wife and son Søren and there he kept a smallholding. He died in hospital in Copenhagen on the 7th of November 1907.

•  Viktoria Jensen was born in Copenhagen in about 1833. After her husband retired from pub keeping she lived with him in Hjortespring. She survived him but died in Copenhagen on the 3rd of February 1910. She was buried in Herlev churchyard.

•  Jørgen Peder Olsen was a wheelwright and carpenter who was often referred to by his grandchildren as Hjulmanden i Hjortespring (the wheelwright in Hjortespring). He was born in Farum on the 10th of February 1848. (Farum is a small town about 20km north-west of Copenhagen - it is about 10km from Hjortespring.) In about 1875 he married Karen Knudson, who came from Hjortespring, and they settled there for the rest of their lives. They had eight children — Bertha Johanne Caroline, Karen Ingeborg (who died when she was only a few weeks old), Ingeborg Karen Olivia (who died before her first birthday), Knud Ole Simon, Ingeborg Anna Katerina, Ole Frederick Christian, Valdemar Jørgen Peter and Karen Johanne Marie. After Jørgen’s wife Karen died in 1921 he continued to live in Hjortespring until his own death on the 17th of March 1937. He was buried in Herlev churchyard.

•  Karen Marie Knudson was born on the 25th of July 1843. She was the fourth of six children. Her father Knud Olsen died when Karen was only five years old after which she lived in Hjortespring with her mother Johanne (née Pedersdatter). After marrying the carpenter and wheelwright Jørgen Peder Olsen they lived together in Hjortespring until she died on the 10th of September 1921.

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You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.

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The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: The Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet), Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.