Important records of Civil Servants now available on SoG Data Online

Candidates taking the Civil Service examinations between 1855 and 1939 had to provide proof that they were at least 21 years old. The evidence they submitted often consisted of a birth certificate or a certified extract from a baptismal register. However in some cases these were not available and all manner of alternative evidence was produced, such as Indian horoscopes drawn up at a child’s birth.

The example illustrated here shows the evidence provided by Robert Macdonald in support of his son John. He states that no birth or baptismal records survive of John’s birth, and that the only evidence he can produce is an inscription on the lid of his writing desk that he made at the time, which he duly submits.

The geographical spread of the collection is extremely wide - there are many births in Ireland, the Channel Islands, Malta and Gibraltar and others for British people born all over the world, especially in India.

The surviving documents only include evidence of birth for a small proportion of Civil Servants, some 60,000 people in all. However the collection may provide vital evidence of an ancestor’s birth date that would be difficult or impossible to prove otherwise.

Members of the Society of Genealogists can carry out a search of the collection and view the original documents here (after logging in). Non-members can search for a name in the collection here, but will not be able to view the documents.

Tim Lawrence
Head of Library Services

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