Denmark Court Records

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Court records offer information about how your ancestors lived. Three kinds of court records are kept in Denmark:

You Can Use this Record to Find...
  • Cases regarding land rights
  • Inheritance (probate) cases
  • Theft and murder cases

The records of the probate court and land records are explained in the "Probate Records" and "Land Records" sections.

Most court records start sometime in the 1600s, and they contain both criminal and civil action. Before the probate law of 1683, many probate records were part of the general court records.

Herred and Birke Court Records[edit | edit source]

Denmark is divided into civil districts called herred and birke.

Until 1805, cities comprised two court jurisdictions. The Bytinget is the city court. (The judge is called Byfogden.) The Rådstueretten is the city hall court. (The judge is called the Magistraten.)

In the 1700s, the city court [Bytinget] was the court of first instance (the court where a case starts) in general cases. City hall courts [Rådstueretten] handled matters of commerce, such as citizenship records. See the "Occupations" section.

The records kept by the herred, birke, and byting courts contain much genealogical information, especially regarding inheritance matters. However, they are usually hard to read and understand, and most of them are not indexed. Some indexes can be found in court records after 1801.

Court Records [Retsprotokoller][edit | edit source]

Court records contain minutes of cases held by the court. Generally they include details on the charges against a person, witness testimony, and judicial decrees. They are useful sources to link individuals and family members to one another. Records date from about 1565 to present and contain the names, ages, occupations, residences, dates, often names of close relatives of plaintiffs and defendants. Records are held in municipal, provincial, or national archives based on the jurisdiction of the court.

Chancery Records[edit | edit source]

Another source is the Danish Chancery Court Records. Chancery records were the records of the king's court and were a type of court record. They include requests made to the king, such as requests for confirmation (authorization) of wills, review of previous court's decisions, permission to marry a cousin, and authority for an underage heir to act as his own guardian.

Family History Library Collection[edit | edit source]

Some Danish court records are available on microfilm. You find the records in the FamilySearch Catalog under: