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Denmark Gotoarrow.png Court Records

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

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]

Research use: Records are useful linkeage sources.

Record type: Records of acts and proceedings of a court that hears cases and decides them on the basis of statutes or common law.

Time period: 1565 to present.

Contents: Names, ages, occupations, residences, dates, often names of close relatives of plaintiffs and defendants.

Location: Municipal and provincial archives.

Percentage in Family History Library: 90%.

Population coverage: 10%.

Reliability: Very good.[1]

Chancery Records

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

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




  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.


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  • This page was last modified on 4 June 2015, at 00:49.
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