Denmark Occupations

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Knowing an ancestor's occupation can help you distinguish him from other individuals with the same name. In addition, the records associated with his occupation could provide information about his life and family.

Common Danish Occupations

For another alphabetized list of occupations, with their English translations, see

Adjudant- assistant to a senior officer in the military
Advokat- attorney
Aftægtsfolk- retired people
Aftægtskone- retired woman
Aftægtsmand- retired man
Agent- agent
Amtmand- chief county administrator
Amtsforratter- county commissioner


Birchedomer, Birkedommer- birke judge
Boelsmand- farmer
Boghandler - book seller
Bonde- farmer
Borgmester- Mayor



Dommer- judge
Dreier, drejer- turner (wood or ceramic)
Dreier-keramisk- ceramic thrower
Dronning- queen

Ekviperingshandler - boutiques/clothing handler


Farver- color dyer
Foged- bailiff, official
Forladefoged- baliff of the manor

Forvalter- administrator, agent, manager
Fourer- quartermaster
Frisør- hairdresser
Fuldmægtig- attorney, advocate, head clerk
Fyrmester- lighthouse keeper
Fæstebonde- copyholder, leaseholder, farmer
Fæstegårdmand- copyholder, leaseholder, farmer
Fæstebonde, -mand- leaseholder on a farm
Fæster- person who is leasing
Fårehyrde- shepherd


Gaardmand- farmer
Gesandt- minister
Gevær soldat- rifle soldier
Graverkarl- grave digger
Grenader- infantryman
Grevinde- countess
Grosserer- merchant
Grovsmed- blacksmith
Grubearbejder- miner
Gårdbruger, gaardbruger- farm owner

Gårdejer, gaardejer- farm owner
Gårdfæster, gaardfæster- leaseholder, tenant
Gårdmand, gaardmand- farmer


Handelsmand- merchant
Handler- merchant

Husmand- cottager, small farmer

Husmoder, huusmoder- wife, homemaker
Hussar- cavalryman
Hyrde- herdsman, shepherd
Høker- small shop keeper
Håndensarbejdere- manuel workers


Inderste- tenant, renter
Indsidder- tenant, renter


Jordløs husmand- landless cottager


Kammerjomfru- lady’s chambermaid
Kammerpige- lady’s chambermaid
Karetmager- coach builder
Kleinsmed- locksmith
Klerk- clergyman, clerk
Klokker- clock, bell, bell ringer
Koffardiskib- merchantman

Kommunemand- city official

Kongsbonde- farmer working on the king's land

Kropsarbejder- manual worker
Kræmmer- shopkeeper
Kulgrosserer- coal merchant
Kusk. kudsk- coachman, teamster
Kvæghyrde- cattle herdsman, cowboy
Købmand- merchant, storekeeper


Land boelsmand- tenant farmer
Landsoldat- soldier
Lappeskomager- shoemaker, cobbler
Læge- doctor
Lærer- teacher
Lærling- student, apprentice


Madmoder- woman of the house, housewife
Marinesoldat- sailor
Medhustru- dairymaid

Mælkekusk- milkman
Mælkepige- dairymaid
Mø- maid
Møller- miller


Nagtvægter- night watchman
Næringsdrivende- tradesman


Overgartner- head gardener


Provst- rural dean
Præst, præsten- priest, the priest, clergyman, minister


Rebslager-rope maker
Rector, Rektor- headmaster
Ritmester- captain
Rytter- cavalryman


Sadelmager- saddle maker
Sagfører- lawyer
Selvejer- farm owner, freeholder
Skifteforvalter- probate administrator, probate agent
Skriver- scribe
Sognefoged- sheriff, constable


Tjeneste- servant
Tigger, tiggerske- beggar
Tingmanden- court officer

Tømmermann- carpenter


Vaskekone- washwoman, laundress
Vejmand- road man
Velærværdig- reverend
Velbyrdige- nobleman
Vinhandler- wine merchant
Vitterligshedsmænd- appraisers
Vognmand- teamster
Vurderingsmand- appraiser
Vægter- night watchman
Værtshusholder- innkeeper, tavern owner
Væver- weaver


Doctors, lawyers, ministers, and other professionals were educated in Danish schools and universities. Their organizations published biographical lists of members and sometimes histories of their groups.

There are published works for many Danish professions and occupations. Examples are:

  • Carøe, Kristian.Den Danske Lægestand 1479-1900 (Danish doctors 1479-1900); København og Kristiania: Gyldendalske Boghandel og Nordisk Forlag, 1904-1922 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3ca, film 1,440,235.)
  • Dolleris, Andreas. Danmarks Boghandlere 1837 to 1892 (Danish booksellers 1837-1892); Odense: Det Milo'ske Bogtrykkeri, 1912 (FHL book Scand 948.9 D3d; film 897,409).
  • Skippers and officers

See also the "Biography" section.

Trade Guild Records

In Danish society occupations were a measure of social status. Some trades were viewed as more prestigious than others. Many trades, including butchers, tanners, shoemakers, and tailors, were organized into guilds. The purpose of a guild was to provide training of apprentices and otherwise regulate the practice of the trade in the area. Not all trade persons belonged to guilds, and some could have received their training outside the guild.

Guilds were usually established in each city. The records of these guilds contain lists of members, information on journeymen practicing in the town, marriages of journeymen, and advancements from the rank of apprentice to journeyman and from journeyman to mastercraftsman. In addition, contracts between masters and parents of apprentices may be included.

These records are usually found in the city archives or in the possession of the modern guilds, provincial archives, and museums.

Research use: Names of parents and sometimes other family relationships are given, sometimes also children. Useful linkage source.

Record type: Records of merchants, craftsmen, tradesmen, skilled laborers, and persons bound by indenture to serve others for a prescribed period to learn an art or trade.

Time period: 1500 to 1850.

Contents: Names of skilled laborers, craftsmen, and apprentices; age or date of birth; place of origin and residence; family relationships; skills; etc.

Location: City and provincial archives, local museums.

Percentage in Family History Library: about 95%.

Population coverage: 5 to 10%.[1]

The Family History Library has collected some records of some Danish guilds, especially for the larger cities. They are listed in the catalog under—




Types of Records

Lavsprotokoller. These include business items, accounts, may not contain much genealogical information.

Ind-og Udskrivningsbøger. These are copies of contractual agreements.

Medlemsprotokoller. These are lists of guild members.

Tidepengebøger. These are payment of guild member dues. These records are helpful in locating members residences.

Many tradesmen, both Danish and foreign-born, often moved around.

Books about guilds and occupations in Denmark may describe your ancestor's life and trade. Although the Family History Library has few books on guilds, those that are available can be very helpful. For a bibliography of the most important printed works on professions, occupations, and so forth, see the following book:

Fabritius, Albert, and Harald Hatt. Handbog i Slægtsforskning (Handbook in Genealogy). København: J. H. Schultz Forlag, 1963. (FHL book 948.9 D27fh, pages 102-131, 209-210, 223-226.)

Books and microfilms about guilds and occupations, as well as the actual guild records are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under—




Citizenship Records

In Denmark, a person did not become a citizen by virtue of birth. Citizenship was a valuable privilege that included:

  • Rights to engage in business in a city.
  • Protections under the law.
  • Permission to reside in a city without being expelled.

Citizenship was extended by individual cities to some of their inhabitants, primarily those who wanted to engage in business, and did not pertain to the country as a whole.

Those who received the rights to citizenship were recorded in citizenship books [Borgerskabpprotokoller].

Borgerskabprotokoller. The earliest citizenship books in Denmark date from medieval times, but most are from later centuries. They include information such as names, ages, social and economic status, occupation and training, and sometimes birthplaces and relationships. Until the twentieth century, only males of the middle or upper classes, mostly merchants and tradesmen, were granted citizenship.

Genealogical use of citizenship books is usually limited to the time period before church records. They are also used to help trace migrations not recorded in other records. The Family History Library has obtained copies of some Danish citizenship books. They are listed in the catalog under, for example:


The original citizenship books are generally kept by the city and may be found in city archives or city halls.


  1. 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.