Denmark: Timeline of Events in your Ancestors LifeEdit This Page

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As you search for your Danish ancestor, you might wonder what events took place in their lives that would have been recorded somewhere? Having some understanding of typical “life’s events” of your ancestors can offer direction to your next step in research. It might be helpful to create a time line of the person you are searching for with the estimated dates to clarify a research problem.

Let’s look at some events that would have been recorded during the life of your Danish ancestor:

Contents

Males

  • Birth and Christening

Births were generally at home until the 20th century. Infants were christened at home, and re-christened in the church. The christening was often 5-6 weeks after the birth when the mother was introduced.

  • Confirmation

Confirmation took place usually between the ages of 14 – 19. It was necessary before participating in communion, being a godparent, or getting married. It was also considered a social passage into young adulthood.

  • Engagement records (pre-1799)

Although by law (Danske Lov of 1683) a male had to be at least 20 years old, and females 16 years old before marriage, young adults tended to marry when they were more established with work. This was often when a person was in the mid to late 20’s. Many years in age between the groom or bride (or bride and groom) are not uncommon, especially before the early 1800’s.

  • Marriage

Marriage took place after completing the engagement, and public banns. Long engagements were not common. Although civil marriages began in 1851, the majority of marriages were performed by a parish priest.

  • Birth and Christening of Children

Parents would take their children to the parish for the official christening. Each christening identifies the fathers’ residence at that particular time and place.

  • Death and Burial

Deaths generally took place at home until the 20th century. Burials were in the church yard (unless it was not permitted due to circumstances). The burial ceremony was performed by a parish priest.

Other possible recorded events:

  • Censuses

The Dane’s started keeping censuses that recorded all individuals in the kingdom as early as 1787.

  • Military Levying Rolls

Between 1789 and 1849 the registration of males for military service (in the army) took place at birth. In 1849 the registration age was moved up to about 15 years old. In 1869 the registration age was changed to 17 years old.

  • Possible probate

The probate system in Denmark was designed to settle the financial matters of the deceased and distribute inheritance to the heirs. This is especially true when there are children under the age of 25 years old at the time of either parent’s death.

  • Records associated to occupation (land, copyholder, guild, etc.)

Females:

  • Birth and Christening

Births were generally at home until the 20th century. Infants were christened at home, and re-christened in the church. The christening was often 5-6 weeks after the birth when the mother was introduced.

  • Confirmation

Confirmation took place usually between the ages of 14 – 19. It was necessary before participating in communion, being a godparent, or getting married. It was also considered a social passage into young adulthood.

  • Engagement records (pre-1799)

Although by law (Danske Lov of 1683) a male had to be at least 20 years old, and females 16 years old before marriage, young adults tended to marry when they were more established with work. This was often when a person was in the mid to late 20’s. Many years in age between the groom or bride (or bride and groom) are not uncommon, especially before the early 1800’s.

  • Marriage

Marriage took place after completing the engagement, and public banns. Long engagements were not common. Although civil marriages began in 1851, the majority of marriages were performed by a parish priest.

  • Birth and Christening of Children

Parents would take their children to the parish for the official christening. Each christening identifies the parents’ residence at that particular time and place. Many priests included the age of the mother, number of pregnancies, or the date of the mother’s introduction.

  • Mothers Introduction after the Birth of Children

Up until the 20th century, women were re-introduced into society about 5 – 6 weeks after giving birth. There are different levels of religious and social reasons tied to this practice. Some believed that the postpartum mother was being followed by evil spirits which might put others in society at risk. After 5-6 weeks from giving birth, the mother would be re-introduced in the parish church. This introduction officially welcomed the mother back into mainstream society.

  • Death and Burial

Deaths generally took place at home until the 20th century. Burials were in the church yard (unless it was not permitted due to circumstances). The burial ceremony was performed by a parish priest.

Other possible recorded events:

  • Recorded in Censuses

The Dane’s started keeping censuses that recorded all individuals in the kingdom as early as 1787.

  • Possible probate

The probate system in Denmark was designed to settle the financial matters of the deceased and distribute inheritance to the heirs. This is especially true when there are children under the age of 25 years old at the time of either parent’s death.

Tips:

  • The younger working class (after confirmation but before marriage) can be difficult to follow as they moved around more freely in search of work.
  • Until the industrial revolution of the late 1800’s, the majority of Dane’s worked with agriculture in rural settings. The remaining population worked with manufacturing, distribution, or trade.
  • Moving varies family to family as some stayed in a close area, and others moved further away. Residents in the cities moved the most.
  • Often people of advanced age are recorded while living with one of their children.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 3 October 2011, at 19:30.
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