The modern lensmann office descends directly from the medieval and post-medieval bondelensmann (English: farmer lensmann). The farmer lensmann was originally appointed among farmers by the sysselmann. In post-medieval times a typical candidate to the lensmann office was a so-called good farmer, being of a wealthy family and/or enjoying respect or holding a leading position in the local society, and he was also elected by other good farmers in their function as lagrette (English: lay judge). When the office of fogd was introduced the farmer lensmanns in each fogderi were placed under him. In 1660 there were between 300 and 350 lensmanns in Norway.
The word must not be confused with a lensherre (English: fief lord) or the noble title of lendmann. In medieval and early modern times this was a person who received a len (fief) from a feudal lord, a sysselmann or the King.
- Stortingsmelding nr 22 (2000-2201) punkt 3
- Mikael Berglund, Cross-border Enforcement of Claims in the EU: History, Present Time and Future, ISBN 9041128611, 2009, page 101