Discover if your ancestors worked for, or applied to join, the British Civil Service. Many candidates for the Service had been born in places and at times when no state registration of births existed, which makes these records a great genealogical resource. The records include the names of individuals born in South Africa, Mexico, Burma, Portugal, Algeria and many more counties. View both the transcript and the original document signed by your ancestor.
Each record comprises a transcript and an image.
The amount of information listed varies, but the Civil Service Evidence of Age records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
Event type – Birth
Notes (relatives etc.)
You will usually find even more detail about your ancestor by viewing the original image. Some of the details you may see include:
Date of declaration
Some include an explanation as to why the birth or baptism record has been lost.
These details were collected by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to establish accurate birth records for their staff, to ensure they were of minimum age or eligible for a pension. By the 1980s, the CSC had accumulated original documents for approximately 60,000 individuals, consisting largely of items that it would be impractical to replace, such as personal testimonials or documents from overseas. The records are declarations of births by parents or a signed testimony of an individual’s birth date in place of a birth or baptism record.
This important genealogical collection was deposited at the Society of Genealogists (SoG) and provides unique evidence of birth for which other sources are unlikely to be available.
The collection might more properly be titled the Remains of the British Civil Service Evidence of Age, as it is estimated that it constitutes only 2% of the papers originally collected. It is important to realise that not all civil servants are reflected in the collection, let alone all those who applied to the Civil Service Commission for employment.
Who is included?
This collection spans evidence of birth from 1752 up until the 20th century, although the great majority of births recorded took place in the 19th century.
The SoG indexers transcribed not just the civil service post-holder or candidate, but also any relatives named in the same document where a date of birth was given for them. There may be very little information recorded about such relatives: typically, an estimated date of birth and their relationship to the main individual. Where these relatives were parents of civil service employees, they may well have been born well before the start of the 19th century.
The collection does not include the Whitehall staff usually thought of when the Civil Service is mentioned. It does include many others who were appointed through the Commission, often in comparatively humble posts - for example, prison officers, post office workers and workers in Admiralty dockyards.
What geographical area is covered?
Many candidates for the Service had been born in places and at times when no state registration of births existed. This was particularly the case for Scottish and Irish candidates and also for those born in foreign countries, on board ship (over 80 births) and in the British colonies. There are also many cases of candidates born in England after the start of civil registration whose births had not been registered: non-registration was not uncommon until fines were instituted in the 1870s.
The collection comprises those born in England (37% of all entries), Ireland (28%), Scotland (6%), Wales (2%), the British Empire and further afield. Of those born in England, counties well-represented include Middlesex/London (7% of the whole), Kent (3%), Devon and Dorset. There are five times as many Irish in the database as those of England per head of population. The Irish counties of Dublin (5%), Cork (3%), Armagh, Carlow, Queen's (Laois) and Kildare are particularly well represented.
Elsewhere there are over 2,500 individuals born in the Indian sub-continent, and 1,250 born in Malta. Many of the latter group were employed in the Admiralty Dockyards in Valletta - their birth certificates give three generations of the family.
This data stems from a time when the British Empire was at the height of its power and influence.
There are also significant numbers of records (approximate number of files given in brackets) for the following countries: Canada (545), Australia (520, including Australians who worked in branches of the Royal Mint in Perth and Sydney), USA (475), South Africa (410), Gibraltar (400), France (240), Jamaica (155), Ceylon (150), Germany (125), Bermuda (115), New Zealand (110), Burma (95), Barbados (90), China (75), Greece (60), Egypt (55), Hong Kong (55), Italy (55), Belgium (50) and Bahamas (50). There are of course lower numbers of persons born in other colonies and foreign parts.
The Society of Genealogists is grateful to all those volunteers who participated in the creation of this index. Colin Gibbens instigated the project and worked on it from start to finish.
The Society has no accurate record of all those who worked as Basement volunteers of the project and apologise for any whose faces are remembered but whose names have been forgotten.
The following all worked on the indexing project: Jeanne Bryan, Isobel Charlton, Doreen Clayton, Helen Cohen, Jean Driver, Don Halliday, Lauren Harvey, Heather Hebblethwaite, Jo Hobday, Roy Kraske, the late Elisabeth McDougall, Dick Mynott, Gladys & Peter Paterson, Gill Pickup, Myrtle Rogala, the late Margaret Thomson, Roger Walpole, Barbara Westmuckett and Ann Wilkie.
The following individuals worked on the resulting data: Robert Charnock, the late Chris Loveridge, David Squire and David Walsh.