Denmark Land and Property
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Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he lived there. They often reveal other family information, such as the name of a spouse, heirs, and other relatives or neighbors. You may learn where a person lived previously, his occupation, and other clues for further research. Danish land records not only mention owners of land but also tenant farmers, copyhold farmers, and some cottagers.
Land records for Denmark are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under—
DENMARK - LAND AND PROPERTY
DENMARK, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - LAND AND PROPERTY
Also check the catalog under the region (such as Sønderjylland or Sjælland.)
A Short History of Land Registration in Denmark
1662 All lands in the kingdom were recorded and their values converted to an exact rate. The new government wanted to implement a fair, uniform taxing system. Names of owners and leaseholders were recorded for each property.
1664 The 1662 plan failed and was replaced with a revised listing of property holders.
1688 A new listing of properties was compiled, and each farm was listed by number and by the names of each owner and leaseholder. This listing also had references to the 1664 property-owner or leaseholder.
The 1688 list is a register of the land belonging to a person or institution (church cloister, or the crown) with the name of the leaseholders and the amount of yearly tax in money or kind due from a leaseholder or landowner. These records supplement Land Tenure Accounts [Jordebogsregnskaber] under the old law and county jurisdiction. They can be for one year or a series of years. Jordebogsregnskaber usually concerned the transfer of crown land and evaluations of property. Included in this record were also fines for fornication and taxes on marriage.
Copyhold Records [Fæsteprotokoller]. Before 1850, many farmers leased land from owners of large estates [godser] and from crown-held land by entering into a contractual agreement. This contract was called a fæstebrev (lease letter). The terms of the lease were recorded on the contract and in a record called a fæsteprotokoller (copyhold records). Beginning in 1719, a copy of the contract was given to the leaseholder. The copyhold records include the name of the former occupant, his reason for leaving the farm, the name of the new leaseholder, his birthplace (sometimes), the relationship of the former occupant (if any), the date of transfer, and a description of the land.
If there was no breach of the contract, the landowner could not evict the leaseholder. Sometimes the leaseholder's family inherited the lease.
Land Tenancy Records [Jordebøger og Fæsteprotokoller]
Research use: Good lineage-linking source. Rights to land often came down from father or from father-in-law. Records cover time period before the start of parish registers.
Record type: Records of land or property that is leased.
Time period: 1530 to 1812.
Contents: Name of the person who resided on a specific piece of property, place of his birth. In leaseholding records, the name of the previous lessee is given and if the new lessee is related often that relationship is stated. Terms of the lease are also given.
Location: Provincial archives.
Percentage in Family History Library: About 90 to 95%.
Population coverage: 20%.
Reliability: Very good. Deed and Mortgage Records [Skøde og Panteprotokoller] Some records of land ownership, sales, or transfers begin in the year 1551. These transactions were to be publicized and approved in court and recorded in the court record [tingbog]. However, these records were not regularly kept before 1738. The records contain names of the parties involved, descriptions of land, and date of record.
Jurisdictions of these courts were:
- Byting (city court)
- Herredsting (district court)
- Landsting(court of first appeal)
After 1738, an alphabetical register of debtors and creditors was mandatory. In the herred and landsting courts, a register of the land involved was also kept. The landsting were discontinued in 1805, and jurisdiction was transferred to the herred and birk (judicial district) courts.
After the new land registration in 1844, all land transactions were listed in the land records by their matrikel (registration) number, including land in the cities. These records are available on microfilm in the Family History Library; the originals are available at the respective provincial archives. This record was kept until about 1870.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Denmark,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1987-1998.