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Danish Lægdsruller, What are they?

Lægdsruller are records of the males who could be enlisted for service in the army or navy. These rolls have many different uses. For genealogical purposes they are used mainly to follow the registered individual's movements, identify a birthplace, find which military unit they were assigned to, and when they completed their obligation.

Some context for lægdsruller

In 1788, adscription was repealed and the foundation was laid for a civilian service. This was done by regulation on June 20, 1788. Previously the private landowners had the obligation to provide personnel for the army. After adscription's repeal this responsibility was shifted to the king and the state. There was thus created a direct relationship between the state and the conscripts.

In subsequent years there was an agency created by the government known as a lægdsvæsen to watch over its conscripts. It was important for the government to know how large a force it possessed in case of war. Therefore it became the states responsibility to keep detailed records of the male population in lægdsruller.

Lægd

The word lægd comes from the Danish word sammenlægning or combination. Since 1600 the word has been used to indicate the number of farms that together would provide one soldier. The country's militia was established in 1701. At that time the land was divided into lægder of approximately 27.25 acres. Each lægd should in principle make a soldier available.

In 1788 the country's conscription rules were changed and the country was divided into 1,656 different lægder. Each lægd was virtually identical to a parish and from 1843, in the cities the same as a town. Each lægd was sequentially numbered within each county. This means that the first lægd in each county were given lægdsnummer 1 and so forth. Soldiers were no longer conscripted based on the lægds production of grain but rather on the lægds population.

Changes to the miltary obligation law of March 6, 1869 established 6 districts instead of the county sub-divsions or lægds. Here after the lægds were sequentially numbered in each of the 6 districts. After reunification in 1920 the 7th district (Sønder Jylland) was established.

Different Types of Lægdsruller

Lægdsvæsenet maintained several types of lægdsruller, namely the main rolls, entry rolls, and from 1871, rewritten rolls.

Main Rolls

The main rolls are records of all those with military obligations in a lægd in a given year.

In 1861 it was decided that the entire roll keeping process should be revised. That meant effectively eliminating the former head rolls, so from that time forward there would only be entry rolls and rewritten rolls.

Below is an overview of the use of head rolls:

1789-1795 Head rolls (also called extra session rolls) were conducted annually (although, often only from the early 1790's).

1795-1849 Main rolls were conducted every third year. In the intervening years only entry rolls were maintained.

1849-1861 Main rolls were conducted every sixth year. In the intervening years only entry rolls were maintained.

1861-1871 Transition Period. The main rolls should be compiled only once every 10 years, and these should not include the last five years.

1871 The last main roll.


Entry rolls

Entry rolls contain those who joined the rolls in a given year, either because they reached the registration age or because they moved to the lægd, or already was enrolled in the roll of a lægd from which they had moved.

Below is an overview of the use of entry rolls:

1795-1861 Entry rolls were kept in the years when the main roll was not kept.

1861-1871 A transitional period where principient each year was led entry rolls.

1871-1956 Entry rolls were kept each year.

Rewritten rolls

All rolls are rewritten 11 years after their creation. The rewritten rolls contain information about the conscripts, who had lived in lægdet in all 11 years or who were still conscripts. For example an entry roll from the year 1897 would be rewritten in 1908.

1871-1956 rewritten rolls each year.

After 1956 lægdsrullerne entered unto cards.

Deleted from the roll

When a person was removed from the roll, it was noted in the roll where the conscripts was last recorded. Some rolls are called exit rolls, but there are no self-rolls for this purpose. A person typically is removed from the roll when he reaches the end of his military obligation, moved, was condemned, was exempted for other reasons or died.

Deletion from the rolls is typically marked by deletions or a stamp such as "deleted" or "resigned".


  • Army
  • Navy or Søruller

Those persons assigned to service in the Navy, were entered into the søruller. The søruller were maintained by the so-called sølimitter, ie the rural parishes and towns (incl. Copenhagen), who were geographicly along sea coast. Navy recruits came from the people whose profession was linked to the sea, ie seamen, fishermen and the like. It should however be noted that from sølimitter there also was manpower for the army if their work was not linked to the sea. Until 1860 they were conscripts reported either in the lægdsruller or søruller. From 1861, all were recorded in lægdsruller.

The records are located at National Archives


  • Copenhagen
  • Other cities








Who was recorded in the Lægdsruller

It has always been the case that only the males had military obligations. The age of registration or discharge from registration in the lægdsruller has varied over time.

1788 - 1848
Before 1848 the social standing of the parents determined whether or not their son was registered in the lægdsruller. According to the regulation of June 20, 1788 only the peasantry would be obligated for registration. Even if a person moved from the countryside to the city (where a lægd roll was not being kept), it did not remove the individual from the rolls. On the other hand, if a city dweller moved to the country (leaving a place where no registration was required, going to a place that required registration), it did not automatically make him obligated to register. But, his sons could be obligated. Provenance was so crucial. Beyond the city dwellers were a number of other exemptions from conscription also on the land. In spite of that, the regulation of 1788, in several articles defined who should and should not be conscripted, there was still some uncertainty about these exceptions. So, on May 8, 1829 a new regulation was issued that sought to solve the problem. It was however not entirely clear. It decided that millers, innkeepers and craftsmen in the country should be equated with the rest of peasantry, and so should be included among the conscripts.

1848

In 1848 Denmark went to war with Prussia. It became a very current matter of who should be enlisted. On September 23, 1848 it was decreed that the previously non-obligated portion of the male population would be enrolled. It was also decided that all those born in the years 1823-1825, should be called to serve. A few months later, on February 12, 1849, the law instituting the general military obligation went into effect. At the same time, all males born in 1826 were called to duty. Priests and schoolteachers were still exempted. The last exempts were eliminated with the military obligation law of June 8, 1912.

Who had a military obligation (Væernepligtige)?

Following are two tables showing who had a military obligation. The tables are far from being all inclusive, as there were many exceptions, especially before 1829 and also many uncertainties about some of the rules.

1788-1847
Sons had military obligation if their fathers did
Sons were exempt if their fathers were
1788-1829

Born in the country of the peasantry

Moved to the city from the country

Farmer, but not of the peasantry

Noble

Cleric

Civilian official

Townsman, but not bond born (Not peasantry)

Clerk or schoolmaster

Substitute*

1829-1947

Same as above plus....

Miller, inn keeper, craftsmanhwo if denied a living could be replaced by the peasantry

Same as above plus...

Estate manager

Clerk

Forest Knight

 * A person, who for a fee performs as a soldier on behalf of someone else.


1848- A Person with a Military Obligation Someone Exempted from Obligation
1848
  All men were extraordinarily summoned

1849-1861
  All unpunished nativeborn Danish men with permanent residence in l    Denmark proper.

Priests

Schoolteachers

1861-1869
  Same as above
  Priests
1869-1912
  Same as above
  None

The Registration Process

Tools for using the Lægdsruller

Where do you find the Danish Lægdsruller?

  • Access through Statens Arkiver
  • Access through FamilySearch

References

Statens Arkiver. Lægdsruller. Denmark: Statens Arkiver, 2008


 

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  • This page was last modified on 4 October 2011, at 03:51.
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