Civil Service Evidence of Age records 1752-1948
The Civil Service Evidence of Age records have been contributed by the Society of Genealogists. Read more about the Society of Genealogist (SoG).
Civil Service Evidence of Age
What are the Civil Service Evidences of Age?
The CSEoA are files for established civil servants and civil service examination candidates, collected by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) from 1855 in order to establish accurate birth dates for the purpose of either ensuring that an examination candidate was of the required age, or granting a pension.
By the 1980s, the CSC still held 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. This important genealogical collection was deposited at the Society of Genealogists (SoG) and provides unique and often irreplaceable evidence of birth for which other sources are unlikely to be available. It might more properly be titled the Remains of the Civil Service Evidences of Age, as it is estimated that it constitutes only 2% of the papers originally held by the Civil Service. The remaining 98% were destroyed by the Civil Service.
Records pre-dating civil registration - stretching back to 1752
This collection spans evidence of birth from 1752 up until the twentieth century, though the great majority of births recorded took place in the nineteenth 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 nineteenth century.
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. In general, papers were not kept if the information could easily be obtained again from another source (such as through the Registrar General"s birth index).
Broad range of people included in the records - search for your ancestors
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 instance prison officers, post office workers and workers in Admiralty dockyards.
Irish records, Scottish records, Indian and Anglo-Indian records, plus many more
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 English 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.
Find Irish, Scottish, Indian and other elusive ancestor's birth and baptism records
The index gives full name, date and place of birth, CSC reference number and additional notes made by indexers at the Society. Where no birth date is given, the SoG transcribers have recorded the baptismal date and place where these are given. 4% of entries therefore relate to baptisms and not to births.
The original documents are fascinating historical records. They may (or, of course, in some instances, may not) provide further information such as the address at time of application to join the Civil Service, details of other family members, and of the civil service department where the candidate would work. Many documents are also in the handwriting of the Civil Service applicant or post-holder, or of a member of their family.
Order original documents of your ancestor's birth and baptism using the index
Each reference is composed of two parts: the first is a serial number, the second a box number.
It is not known what the serial number signifies. However, reference numbers beginning ICS (for example ICS 1866) indicates an applicant to the Indian Civil Service in the year 1866.
The collection came to the Society of Genealogists in some 200 boxes and the documents were in recruitment order, seemingly by department.
Order original documents; see your ancestor's handwriting
The original documents appear in a variety of languages other than English, including Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin and Swedish.
Documents vary from originals of personal testimonies, certified copies of parish registers and birth certificates to such miscellaneous documents as original Indian horoscopes. Most files contain only one or two documents, while some where queries were evident run to 30 pages.
SoG charges a flat fee for producing all the documents within an individual"s file, as stated. If the document is an index card, please be aware that these were transcripts, made in the 1960s and 1970s, of original documents and may contain little information beyond that given in the online index.
Examples of original documents
The option to order a copy of the original documents will be available to you once you have viewed an entry for an individual.
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.
Please note that cseoa is an index: the results with which you are presented do not contain images at the present time. as with any genealogical index, please use the cseoa with care. having said this, the database is designed to be as straightforward and easy as possible to search. the usual search tips apply, for example the "less is more" approach, which means starting with a broad search and narrowing down as necessary (rather than filling in every search field with full information).
wildcards. the wildcard is denoted by an asterisk * and can be used in both the first name and the last name search fields.
first name. you do not need to enter a forename. the volume of entries in the database is such that searching for even the commonest surname without a forename produces reasonably manageable results - for example, there are 625 smith, 353 jones, 251 murphy and 55 macdonald entries in the index. this means that it is usually possible to "browse" through the free search results without using a forename.
last name. a surname must be entered, although the use of wildcards is permitted.
if you are unsure how a name was spelt, or can"t find it with the usual spelling, try using the wildcard facility. for example, if you search for william harris and you type in william harr*, the search will return a list of results that include names such as william harris or william harrison.
year of birth. if you don"t enter an age range, the search range will default to the maximum parameters of 1752 to 1948. please note that a percentage of entries do not have year of birth - these "blank" entries will be returned along with the "correct" year of birth entries in case they should relate to the person you are looking for. those entries without a year of birth may have a baptism date, which will be displayed in the notes field in the full search result (but not the free search results). whilst in many cases the year of baptism will be the same as the year of birth, this cannot be guaranteed - baptism may have taken place later in childhood or, of course, in some cases, in adulthood. in other cases, there is no year of birth or of baptism, but there is a dated declaration made by the person in question or by a parent, other family member or family contact.
country of birth. the default setting is any, which means you will be returned search results relating to persons born anywhere in the world. however, if you wish you may select a country of birth from the dropdown list. we have used political geography circa 1921, as this is in keeping with the main content of the dataset. it also means that ireland can be treated as a single entity. note that isle of man is included as a country in its own right and that india includes burma (as well as what are today the independent countries of pakistan and bangladesh).
not all the terms in the dropdown list are actually countries! for instance, at sea is included as a category. in addition, west indies is used as a cover-all term for cuba and jamaica as well as the smaller islands in the caribbean.
county of birth. when you select a term other than all in country of birth, the county of birth dropdown appears. the default (sometimes the only) setting is again all - you do not need to select any other term from the dropdown. however, sometimes it may be useful to do so - for instance, in ireland if you wish to narrow your search.
note that county of birth is used loosely to mean the principal administrative division within the territory in question. therefore, while county is the correct term across the british isles, the equivalent "counties" in australia are the states and territories, in canada the provinces and maritimes, in india the presidencies, in south africa the provinces and in usa the states. as mentioned earlier, for west indies the "counties" are the individual islands.
place of birth. this is displayed in the full search results (not the free search results). this will be a more specific place (e.g. a town or village) where known. sometimes, it has not been possible to match the place of birth with a county / country, so the latter are shown as blank.
notes. this is displayed in the full search results (not the free search results). not all entries have notes. notes may refer to a number of things: for example, aliases, baptism details, declaration details, other family members and so on.
some terms in the notes have been abbreviated by sog indexers. for example, where places of baptism or declaration are given, these may be shown with the chapman county code instead of the county in full. for example, portsmouth ham is portsmouth, hampshire. a list of uk chapman codes can be found at the genuki website http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/regions/codes.html
reference. this is displayed in the full search results (not the free search results). this is the civil service reference number. each reference is composed of two parts: the first is a serial number, the second a box number. it is not known what the serial number signifies. however, reference numbers beginning ics (for example ics 1866) indicate an applicant to the indian civil service in the year 1866.
order documents. this is displayed in the full search results (not the free search results). clicking on the more information hyperlink opens up a new window which provides more information about how you can obtain copies of the original documentation from sog.
errors in the index. we believe that the index is accurate but are always interested in improving upon it. if after obtaining copy paper from sog you spot any errors in the index, please let us know by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.