Danish Gods

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Europe Gotoarrow.png DenmarkGotoarrow.pngDanish Gods

A Gods is an estate which consists of a manor or main farm and the land and other farms owned by the estate. In many cases, the estate served the many of the same functions as a herred (local government district). There are many different records from an estate that can help enrich genealogical research. A few gods records include:

  • Fæsteprotokoller and fæstebreve (copyhold): Letters and contracts between the lord and farmer. These are contracts of permanent work for the farmer, with conditions. They usually outline what is expected of the farmer, descriptions of the house given to them, and who the previous farmer of the farm was (many times the previous owner was some sort of relation), along with other miscellaneous information. In 1810 estate owners were required to register copyhold records with the local authorities.  After this date transcripts of copyholds may also be found in the records of the local herred where the farm was located.
  • Jordebøger (land records): Information about the land and how much it is worth in taxes. These records include names of every farmer under the gods.
  • Lægdsruller (conscription rolls): Lists of males who may be available for military service.
  • Overformynderiprotokoller (guardianship records): Name of the person or persons assigned to watch over the interests of a minor.
  • Regnskaber (accounts): Financial transactions for the operation of the estate.
  • Skifteprotokoller (probate records): If a probate cannot be found under the herred, it is always good to check with the local gods records. If a person had belonged to a gods they would have registered the probate with the estate rather than the herred. In 1817 estate owners were given the right to conduct probates for their copyholders. Probates prior to that date generally are for family members of the estate owner.

Estate records that have been deposited at the regional archives (landsarkiv) are grouped together by the estate.  Many estates have not transferred their records to the archives.  In those cases you must contact the estate to determine what records are available.  The National Archives of Denmark (Rigsarkivet) has an online catalog where you can search by the name of the estate (arkivskaber) and see what their holdings are.

An interactive map with information on estates as of 2013 is available on the website of the Dansk Center for Herregårdsforskning here.

Here is a Parish-Estate Cross Reference (to list of estates). The estate numbers correspond the estate number on this list of danish estates.


- Skaaning, Jytte and Bente Klercke Rasmussen. Find Din Slægt - og Gør den Levende: Håndbog i Slægtshistorie, 2d ed. Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2006.

- Christiansen, Palle Ove. A Manorial World: Lord Peasants and Cultural Distinctions on a Danish Estate 1750-1980. Scandinavian University Press, 1996.