Danish Military Levying Rolls (Lægdsruller)
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Lægdsruller are records of the males who could be enlisted for service in the army or navy. These rolls have many different uses. For genealogical purposes they are used mainly to follow the registered individual's movements, identify a birthplace, find which military unit they were assigned to, and when they completed their obligation.
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In 1788, adscription was repealed and the foundation was laid for a civilian service. This was done by regulation on June 20, 1788. Previously the private landowners had the obligation to provide personnel for the army. After adscription's repeal this responsibility was shifted to the king and the state. There was thus created a direct relationship between the state and the conscripts.
In subsequent years there was an agency created by the government known as a lægdsvæsen to watch over its conscripts. It was important for the government to know how large a force it possessed in case of war. Therefore, it became the state's responsibility to keep detailed records of the male population in lægdsruller.
The word “lægd” comes from the word “sammanlægning”. Since the 1600’s the term has been used as an indication for the number of farms where a soldier would be placed in the community. Beginning in 1701 when the kingdoms military system was reformed, the country was partitioned into lægder based upon 20 barrels of grain (tønder hartkorn). Each lægd regulary provided soldiers for the military authorities.
In 1788 the structure for military conscription was changed, and the kingdom was organized into 1,656 lægder. Each lægd in the countryside was generally patterned after the rural parish in geographic boundaries. In 1843 the lægd structure for the towns (the byerne) was patterned after the cities.
Each lægd was assigned a number within each county. That is to say the first lægd in each county was assigned the number 1 with the remaining lægder in the county receiving a subsequent chronological number. The number of soldiers for a given area was no longer directed by the economic production of grain, but instead was based upon the number of male population within the lægd.
Beginning on March 6, 1869 the military conscription system was reorganized into 6 areas around the kingdom, instead of being associated to a county. Each lægd was given a new lægd number designation to one of the 6 areas. After the union with Northern Schleswig in 1920 a 7th area was created (Sønderjylland).
- Why use the Lægdsruller?
- What's a Lægd?
- How to Find Military Levy Numbers (Lægdnummer)
- Who was recorded in the Lægdsruller?
- When was a person registered in the Lægdsruller?
- Types of Lægdsruller
- Content of the Lægdsruller
- Removals and Exemptions
- Administration and Registration Process
- Military Records for Sønderjylland (Southern Denmark/Northern Slesvig)
- Registration Parameters
How to find someone in the levying rolls
1. Find the Lægt number of your ancestor's parish. Go to the Family Search wiki listing for your parish. On the parish's main page, you will see a blue box, and in that box will be the Lægt number of that parish.
2. Go to the Danish National Archives website at https://www.sa.dk . In the Arkivalieronline section, left mouse-click in search field box; select 'Find din slægt' or 'Find your relatives', then left mouse-click on 'Søg' or 'Search'.
3. Scroll down the Find din Slægt page; select 'Lægdsruller fra hele landet', ( Lægdsruller for the 1789-1931 from across the country, found at https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/other/index-creator/4/156352/16481031), [or 'Lægdsruller fra København' (Lægdsruller 1847-1921 from Copenhagen, found at https://www.sa.dk/ao-soegesider/other/other-collection/6 )].
4. For 1789-1864, click on Lægdsruller (landruller) 1789-1864. This brings up a page with a long list of rolls on the left column, alphabetized by county name. Scroll down to your county, then click on the year you wish to search.
| NOTE: There are two types of levying roll records: the Hovedrulle and the Tilgangsrulle. The Hovedrulle is the mail roll listing every eligible male in the parish, and Tilgangsrulle is the supplementary roll listing only those who moved onto or off the rolls since the last main roll was taken. Choose the Hovedrulle to verify that he was in living the parish and eligible for military service. Choose the Tilgangsrulle to verify any changes such as moves, deaths, or male births. "Omskrevet" means "Rewritten".|
For 1864 1931- These rolls are organized by "Kreds" or districts, not by county. There were seven Kreds for Denmark. You need know the Kreds in which your county was located. To see a county map and determine your Kreds number, click on Kom godt i gang med at bruge lægdsruller (on the right side, in red) and then on Læs mere om amter, udskrivningskredse og lægder ( in the center section). Go back to the previous page and click on Lægdsruller (landruller), [your Kreds Number] udskrivningskreds [Year Range]. For Kreds 1 and 2, then click on Læs scannet udgave af arkivserien her.
- Scroll down and find the year you wish to search. There will be several listings for each year, each followed by a number, which is the beginning Lægt number in that group (See note in the box above on whether to choose the Hovedrulle or Tilgangsrulle).
- Then Click on "Læs arkivalier her" in red on that line. Turn the pages of the book using the arrows at the top of the page.
5. Find your lægt number, which is on the upper corner of each right page, listed in chronological order. In the Hovedrulle there are usually about 3-7 pages for each lægt or parish. Search all the pages in that lægt for your ancestor's name with his father or son.
6. Reading the column headings: You will see two numbers to the left of your ancestor's. The first number is his listing number in this year's roll, and the second number is his listing number in the next main roll (Hovedrulle). In the third column will be the names of him and his father, if he is not a father himself. Next is listed his birthplace, then his age, height, and current residence in the parish, followed by any remarks which are usually pertaining to his military service. See the abbreviations list to translate these remarks.
7. If you wish to follow him through to other years (either backward or forward in time), go back to the county list on the left sidebar, choose the next or previous year in the Hovedrulle, find the same lægt number again, and and look for his listing under the numbers that were by his name. To search in the previous roll, the first number by his name will now be in the second column by his name. To search in the following roll, the second number by his name will now be in the first column.
If he moved and changed parishes, his name will be crossed off and there will be a note by his name indicating his new lægt number and listing number in that lægt. Alphabetical letters were assigned to each year, so you can tell whether to search for his listing in the roll of the same year or the next roll.
Alternate Website for Viewing Danish Military Records
Danish Family Search is a website where one can view Danish Military Records. See at: http://www.danishfamilysearch.com/ Select 'Military Levying Rolls' from Overview drop-down menu. Left mouse-click on the magnifying glass to the left of the correct district, and then choose the place and years to view. Danish Family Search website instructions can be viewed in either English or Danish language.
Tools for using the Lægdsruller
- Registration Area Numbers (Lægdsnummer)
- Letter associated to the year of registration
- Common abbreviations in the Army Lægdsruller.
- FamilySearch Indexing: Denmark, Lægdsruller, 1789-1792
Statens Arkiver. Lægdsruller. Denmark: Landsarkivet for Sjælland Lolland-Falster & Bornholm, 2008