A book released this week by genealogist Björn Engström shows that Daniel is descended from both Swedish and Finnish aristocracy. His distant relatives include senior royal retainers, members of parliament, a former president of Finland and a woman convicted of witchcraft, the book reveals.
Westling was brought up in Ockelbo in the province of Gästrikland, where his father is a retired social services chief and his mother a retired postal worker.
Many of his ancestors come from the same part of central Sweden, and include blacksmiths, smallholders and soldiers.
But Westling is not the first member of his extended family to get close to royalty – his distant relative Christoffer Johansson was a senior courtier at the court of Karl IX, and was present at his coronation in 1550.
Westling also has some political blood coursing through his veins:
“There is an unusual number of Riksdag (parliament) members in his family. There were four Riksdag members among his ancestors in the 16th and 17th century. Back then, the Riksdag would only meet for one or two weeks a year when the king needed support for something or other,” Engström told The Local.
He is also descended from the aristocratic Svinhufvud family. Engström has traced his ancestry to Jöns Svinhufvud in the 14th century.
“They were part of the early Swedish aristocracy and leaders of mining society. The mines were Sweden’s treasure chest,” Engström told The Local.
The link means that Daniel is a very distant relative of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, president of Finland in the 1930s.
That is not Westling’s only connection with Finland. Like many Swedes, he also has many ‘Forest Finns’ among his ancestors. Forest Finns originated in Finland but moved to Sweden, often maintaining their language and their culture for many generations. The Forest Finns usually pursued ‘slash-and-burn’ agriculture, in which forests were cut down and burned to provide arable and pasture land.
“One of these ancestors is reported to have died in battle in Finland in 1597 and his widow came to Sweden,” Engström.
Many of the Forest Finns had Russian ancestry, so it is possible that Daniel is part-Russian.
“There’s sure to be a bit of Russian blood there,” says Engström.
One of his ancestors was certainly born in Russia:
“His ancestor Margaretha Ragvaldsdotter was born in Moscow in 1699. I suspect she was of Swedish descent; its possible that she was from one of the Swedish colonies in Russia.”
Engström had comforting words for Westling’s new in-laws: Daniel’s family has a high moral standing:
“If you look at his ancestors as a whole, they’re an unusually honest family. There are very few criminal convictions. Someone was convicted of drunkenness in 1817, and his great-great-great-great grandfather was convicted of not caring for his children. Another ancestor was convicted of witchcraft, but she was not drowned like many others – she was later pardoned.”