SoG Customs & Excise Staff Service Registers 1833 - 1911

The collection deposited with the Society of Genealogists by HM Revenue and Customs in 2013 comprises 32 service registers created by HM Customs and Excise for staff born between 1833 and 1911. The detailed records include date of birth, place of birth, date of civil service certificate, rank or office held, former residence (i.e. prior to employment), ports(s) in which served and date of admission along with notes of salary, offences and meritorious service. The registers often show dates of resignation, dismissal, retirement and pension received and dates of death. While predominantly relating to male officers some women staff members do certainly appear in the later years.


The registers, now digitised and indexed by the Society, comprise nearly 14,000 images with approximately 16,800 entries  via SoG Data Online. * The index can be searched by non-member here for free with full entries available exclusivley for SoG members.


Historically, Customs and Excise were two separate departments before they merged in 1909 to become HM Customs & Excise. In 2005 the Inland Revenue joined with this department and it was renamed HM Revenue and Customs. In 2009 the border protection role of HM Revenue and Customs was merged with Immigration to form UK Border Force. The tax collecting activities remain with HM Revenue and Customs.


Customs duties have been allocated on imported and exported goods since the thirteenth century. The Customs Service was originally created to only collect duties at each principal port. Collectors of Customs were to assess and then collect the proper duties owed. However as illegal trade increased, a Board of Customs was formed in 1671 to regulate the collection of customs to help prevent smuggling. The Excise tax was first imposed by the Long Parliament during the Civil War (1642-7) and was placed on domestic goods made to pay for Cromwell’s Parliamentary Army. This tax was first placed on numerous items, but was later reduced to cover items such as coffee, tea, chocolate, beer and spirits. After the war, the Excise duty was continued by King Charles II to pay for his and the government’s expenses. In the following years many other Excises were added and taken away to produce revenue.


These staff service registers supplement the unindexed  pension records and staff lists for Customs, Excise and Inland Revenue officers 1642-1970  (CUST 39) and other records at the National Archives at Kew which currently require knowledge of the county in which the person was posted and the dates of his service in order to carry out any research.

Further information may be gathered by consulting Ham’s Year Book, Ham’s Customs Year Book and Ham’s Inland Revenue Year Book, available in major research libraries. These are indexed directories of Customs officers, Excise men and Inland Revenue officials covering 1875 to 1931 and list all staff, collections, districts and stations.   They were divided into 3 formats – Customs, Excise and Inland Revenue.  A full set is available at the National Archives. The Society of Genealogists holds the 1932 edition.

*The Society has made more than 11 million records available online to its members. If you are not a Member you can still carry out an initial search, but to view the full record details you will need to join the Society. A full list of all the data sets avaiable can be found on the Society's website here. Further information and help in using the data can be found here

This sample page from Book 30 record 139 shows the rather chequered career of John Grimmett born 1867 and the various stations to which he was transferred until his retirement and pension in 1919 and his death in 1932. On the same page we can see that Patrick Drake born 1864 had a rather more successful career and was in receipt of a considerably larger pension.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.