How to look for records of... Civil or crown servants
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching records of civil or crown servants.
Many of these records do not survive, except for those of people who served in a very senior position, and those that do survive can be difficult to find. You may find printed sources useful in locating information but please note that the details provided are brief and will not contain personal information.
It is difficult to research the career of any civil servant or employee of the British Crown because, as a general rule, personnel records of administrators (whether they were based in the United Kingdom or abroad) are not kept for permanent preservation in the archives.they were based in the United Kingdom or abroad) are not kept for permanent preservation in the archives.
You will need to know details of what work the civil or crown servant did, when, and in which organisation to find out more about their employment history.
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
The Civil Service Commission administered civil service examinations from 1855 onwards.
Some records of civil servants are not yet open to public inspection. Check the access conditions to records in our catalogue. In certain cases only a selection of records of civil servants who were famous, infamous or high-ranking officials are preserved in The National Archives.
Civil servants’ personnel records are generally kept by the creating government department at least until the person reached 72 years of age.
The Ministry of Defence kept civilian service records until the person reached 100 years of age. Contact the Ministry of Defence for more details on how to access these records. Personal information will only be released where proof of death can be provided.
The two departments responsible for staff in the royal household can be broadly divided between above stairs (Lord Chamberlain’s) and below stairs (Lord Steward’s).
In 1854 the office of Lord Steward was abolished and its functions were taken over by the Master of the Royal Household, whose records are not open to the public.