🇺🇸 Lene Kottal Professional Genealogy Contact Lene Kottal

Forlover means Bondsman - Learn Danish Genealogy Words

Lene Dræby Kottal
Forlover means Bondsman - Learn Danish Genealogy Words

The Danish word forlover means bondsman.

Two bondsmen (forlovere) were required at a marriage in Denmark until 1969. Many grooms still have a forlover at a marriage, but then the role is that of a best man or usher. The Danish word is the same now as before 1969, but the role of a forlover has changed.

The Role of Bondsmen in Denmark Before 1969

Bondmen signed a record to attest that the groom and bride could be legally married, meaning that they were not engaged or married to someone else, that they were not too young to be married, and that they were not too closely related. To know this about a person, a bondman had to know the person relatively well. Therefore, bondsmen were often the fathers of the groom and bride, or a brother or another male relative if the father was deceased or unable to be present due to distance or illness. The information about the bondsmen is therefore an important clue for genealogist.

Where to Find Information about Danish Bondsmen

Some ministers recorded the names of the bondsmen along with either the engagement or the marriage in the parish registers (aka church books). Other ministers had a book specifically for bondsmen's attestations, and such a book is called a forloverprotokol. The book may be cataloged under that name or under the name forloverattest, forloverbog, or forloverjournal; in essence you should keep an eye out for anything with the word forlover in it. You might be using the website Arkivalieronline provided by the Danish National Archives to look at digitized parish registers but beware that you will not find digitized bondsmen records in the same collection. They are in the collection of the pastorate (pastorat in Danish), which often covered more than one neighboring parish. A lot of pastorate records have not been digitized, yet, but I recommend that you always check the collection of digitized pastorate records for whatever parish you are working with. The pastorate records often contain several record series relevant for genealogists.

The photo at the top is a selfie my husband and I took a few days after our engagement. Our twelfth anniversary is coming up on 1 May 2022.
Please don't use the photograph without my permission.

Start the discussion...
Type your name