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Laurenz Olof August Simson

born on 13 August 1815 in Gothenburg, died on 23 May 1900 on Käringön, Bohuslän, was a Swedish chapel preacher and school teacher, mainly active on Käringön.

Simson was the son of watch manufacturer Gustaf Simson and Maria Helena Engberg. He became an orphan in his teens, when first the mother died of pneumonia in 1828 and then the father, impoverished, four years later. Samson had to support himself and pay off his student debts by giving private lessons.


He became a school teacher and studied to become a priest in Uppsala 1837-1839. The ordination to the priesthood in Gothenburg in 1839 was performed by Bishop Carl Fredrik af Wingård. Simson then got a position as deputy pastor in Kalvs parish in southern Älvsborg county and in Hunnestads parish in Halland and for a time as deputy commissioner in Berghems parish. On February 1, 1842, he was appointed as the first teacher at the Setheliska school in Sätila and was also employed by the congregation. He was named there by his former maid Anna Johansdotter as the father of her child. Samson disputed this and sued Anna for slander. Her father then in turn sued Samson for imprisonment, but he swore an oath that he had not had "carnal intercourse" with Anna. He was acquitted by the district court and did not have to pay maintenance.

Chapel preacher on Käringön

Simson held a trial sermon in Käringön's church in March 1849 and was then unanimously elected chapel preacher. Having both teaching and clerical training, he had an edge over both of his competitors, as he alone could maintain both positions. He married on 17 Dec 1850 in Gothenburg, Fredrika Charlotta Lange (1810-1897), who was five years older. The couple had a son who, however, died before he was two years old.

The strict schartauan

Samson was a schartauan and preached severe sermons — some Sundays twice. He was a forceful nature with definite opinions and gradually became increasingly conservative. He had special power over women's souls. For some he was a beloved father figure, while for others he was a hated dictator. The people were to be brought up according to strict moral principles. He was also responsible for school education, first in the vicarage and after 1862 in the island's newly built schoolhouse. Samson strengthened his power and for a long time he was chairman of the school council, the church council, the parish assembly and the poor welfare board.

He also gave the fishermen advice on fish preparation and had views on when the big sea fishing should start in the spring.

Processions and new holidays

In addition to a thorough celebration of the traditional festivals, Samson introduced the additional holidays of August 13, the preacher's birthday, October 11, the day of his ordination, and the day of his landing on the island. They were celebrated with a church service and extra bell ringing. Samson appreciated processions and ceremonies and he acquired with his own money a purple gold-embroidered mess hook. He was awarded the Vasa Order in 1887 and is said to have worn it constantly. The celebration of Samson's 75th birthday lasted all day from five in the morning until ten in the evening.

Offer och tionde

The chapel preacher received his remuneration through monetary offerings and through quotas of the fisheries law's lotteries. Samson got the best fish, which was then sold. At Easter, Pentecost, the fourth prayer day and Christmas, parishioners offered at least one Riksdaler. He also introduced the new custom that a newborn should have twelve godparents instead of the previous four. Every sponsor must make sacrifices like the parents at baptism and confirmation.

New vicarage

Den gamla prästgården var i dåligt skick och då församlingen inte hade råd att bygga en ny, lät Simson 1877 uppföra en för egna medel. Den finns ännu kvar, högt belägen, med utsikt över ön. Han stipulerade i sitt testamente vad som skulle ske med fastigheten efter hans död. Den drivs idag av Stiftelsen Simsons prästgård.

Name changes

Församlingsbor med son-namn fick nya namn av Simson, ofta Västerberg, Österberg, Nordberg eller Söderberg beroende på i vilket väderstreck de var bosatta. Han bestämde ofta även förnamn på barnen, inte sällan ovanliga och bibliska namn.


Marriages, which Samson considered inappropriate, were frowned upon. He often considered himself best able to decide who was a match and on at least one occasion in 1852 he refused to officiate.

Alcohol abuse in bars

During the 19th century, the superiet in Sweden was large and widespread, so also in the Bohuslän archipelago. There are said to have been four or five maple taverns on the island when Samson arrived there and he was instrumental in closing them down. The ban on household burning and other statutory restrictions in the 1850s contributed to greater sobriety.


Käringön was poor in soil, but Samson wanted a garden and the parishioners, mainly the women, for many years transported soil from other islands and from the mainland to the pastor's garden and flowerbeds and also to the cemetery.

Samson's tombstone

Samson died in 1900 and on his tombstone he had the following inscription engraved:

"Below rests the perishable part of the pastor and the member of the order
The law of truth was in his mouth, and there was no evil found in his lips: he walked peaceably and uprightly for me and converted many from sin.

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