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The circular for the Danish 1801 census

Convinced of the usefulness, that exact knowledge of the size of the population in our kingdom and realm, divided by age, gender and occupation, has, we have most graciously decided, that such a census shall be taken everywhere, as well in the towns as in the countryside in Denmark and Norway, and the same shall take its beginning on the first coming 1st of February, which is a Sunday, and in so far as the census cannot be completed in one day, the same must in the towns be continued the following weekdays.

In this census that rule must be observed that those children, who are born after the 1st of February, but before the census is completed, must be considered unborn and not counted; whereas those persons, who might die in the time from the beginning of the census taking until it is completed, are to be counted as living, so that by the whole census can be known the real size of the population on that specific day. – During the census taking everyone is to be included whatever position they may have, as well natives as foreigners who on the said 1st February are residents here in the kingdoms, as well as the natives, who might be absent on journeys, but of whom it is known, that they either have their usual residence here or that they again intend to come back and establish himself.

Just as We by ordinance to all our bishops have commanded, that the census in the countryside shall be carried out by the vicars and these in so doing be supported by every parish and parish-of-ease’s parish clerk and teachers, so will We also that the census in the towns must be provided for, under the Magistrate’s administration, by the tax collectors, they must go from house to house in order to, after the specification of the head of the family and with his help, record the persons to be found in every house, as well as the information, that will hereafter be demanded from each and everyone, and when more families live in a house, then separately record each family and the persons belong to it.

In this census is included everybody, as well clericals and civilians as military persons who might be quartered in the towns. On the other hand will military persons, who are quartered in fortresses, that are not at the same towns, or are in barracks, as well as those seamen and others, who live in the so-called ‘Nyboder’ in Our royal residential city of Copenhagen and their families be recorded by Our relevant department.

As a rule by the census taking is to be observed: that everyone is belonging to that house in which he sleeps; that when a person, who normally sleeps in a house, is absent, either alone on business purpose in the country or abroad with the intention of coming back, e.g. at sea, he is then counted with the family from which he is away and to which he intends to return; that, like the census must take place discretely by farm and cottage, likewise, that for each farm and cottage are all persons recorded that are present, so must also in the enumeration lists for each person be recorded the full name together with his age, whereby regarding the name must be observed: that when unusual names are stated, that might give rise to uncertainty about the persons gender, this must likewise be recorded in the lists.

Regarding age, then it should be the upcoming year of age and not the achieved age that is recorded, e.g. for newborn children is recorded 1 and for the person who is in his 26th year is written 26 and not 25. For each person is specified what it is in the household, like husband, wife, child, kin and how close, servant, and journeyman and boy, lodger, quartered and so forth; also must for each person be explained, whether he is married for the first, second or what time; or unmarried or in widowhood for the first, second or what time; the persons’ title, office, business, handicraft or occupation, or what they live of, must likewise be given, and if they might be disabled or live by alms.

In order for the enumeration lists to achieve the highest degree of clearness, for which especially is required, that they all, appropriately, are designed in the same way and after the same rules, the person concerned must be given the enclosed printed schemas, that demonstrate how the persons to be counted, ought to be recorded and in which field the information demanded of them are to be noted. Likewise the person concerned must be given for the completion of the lists a sufficient number of paper, on which the fields with their headings are printed.

When the lists are written and completed they must be controlled by you and the errors and insuffiencies that might thereby be found must be corrected by you, whereupon they are sent to Our exchequer.

Moreover it is Our most gracious wish that the census commanded by Us will be launched with all possible diligence and accuracy, as, in case the above-mentioned lists are found not to be constructed as prescribed, the person concerned must expect to receive from Our exchequer the same returned for corrections and completion of the insufficiencies.

You must most humbly obey accordingly and apply the necessary arrangements in agreement herewith.