Norway Court Records
Norway Court Records
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Three kinds of court records are kept in Norway: probate, land, and civil court records. The probate and land records are explained in the "Probate Records" and "Land and Property" sections. The civil court records are discussed here and are referred to simply as court records.
Most court records start sometime in the 1600s, and they record both criminal and civil action. Before the probate law was passed in 1687, many probate records were part of the general court records. Many cases involving land transfers are also part of the court records. Within court records you will find several different types of cases:
- Cases regarding allodial land rights (independently and privately owned land), where several generations of a family may be listed.
- Pension contracts where the farm is turned over to heirs in exchange for upkeep for the rest of their life.
- Paternity suits, including fines levied against parents of illegitimate children, and instruction about the church discipline in such matters and inheritance cases.
- Inheritance cases.
- Theft and murder cases.
Criminal cases such as theft and murder
Court records offer helpful information about how your ancestors lived. This can be of great importance if you wish to have a better understanding of the times and lives of your ancestors. However, court records do require a great amount of time to search because they do not have indexes.
Terms used in Court Records
A Ting is a place where leading citizens would meet in the olden days to discuss and settle disputes. This place would represent a large area such as a county (Len or Amt, today Fylke), district (herred) or even a larger area. Here free men and representatives of the court would meet to settle disagreements, bring forth complaints or hear the law. This was in Norwegian called Lagting. Early on twelve well respected men from the community were appointed as members of the court, and they were along with the bailiff responsible for all court cases. ATing was also a term used for set days when a court was in session at given places in the country. In the cities it was called Byting and in the rural areas it was called Herredsting. There were several other set times for the court to meet, such as the Høstting (fall court), Vårting (spring court), even Månedsting (month court), and Ekstrating (extra court). The last one pertained to registration of documents. The old way of conducting Ting was changed in 1927 when a new system was put in place. From the year 1927 both the civil and criminal dealings were handled by the Herredsrett in the rural area and Byrett in the citites. The date and time for these proceedings are now scheduled by a judge in each inividual case.
Court Records [Tingbøker]
Research use: Contain useful lineage linking information and family relationships. These records are unindexed and require considerable study and effort to be used effectively.
Record type: Records of court actions.
Time period: 900 to present; most start in the 1630s.
Contents: Reports of criminal and civil court actions including allodial rights (proving that land was owned privately, independent of any feudal obligations); paternity suits; inheritance disputes. These reports provide names, dates, places and relationships, sometimes including several generations of information.
Location: Regional archives [Statsarkiv].
Percentage in Family History Library: 100% of needed records to 1800.
Population coverage: 10 to 20%.
Before the Probate law was passed in 1687, many probate proceedings were part of the general court records.
You may find probate databases online at Digitalarkivet.
The original probate records are also found online at Digitalarkivet.
Many Norwegian court records are available on microfilm. More are deposited in the regional archives in Norway. Those located at the Family History Library are listed in the Place search of the catalog are under these headings:
- NORWAY - COURT RECORDS
NORWAY, [COUNTY] - COURT RECORDS
NORWAY, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - COURT RECORDS
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Norway,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1997-1998.