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Document Details :
Title: The Fixation of Danish Patronymics in the 19th Century and the Law
Author(s): DEGN, Ole
Volume: 34 Date: 1998-1999
In the Middle Ages the first use of fixed family names in Denmark was seen in the nobility. It developed later in the upper class, such as the merchants and the officials in the chartered towns, and then slowly spread to the lower social strata. In the middle class the oldest examples of fixed family names come from the middle of the 17th c. In 1826 and 1856 the King ordered all families to baptise their children with fixed family names, but until the end of the 19th c. not every peasant followed the order. The peasants kept their old cultural traditions and stuck to their old naming practices, i.e. they named their children with patronymics ending in -sen (son) or -datter (daughter). As a result nearly half of the Danish population bear one of a small and monotonous selection of family names ending in -sen.