How to look for records of... Excise and Inland Revenue officers

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

The National Archives holds most surviving English and many surviving Irish records of Excise officers. It does not hold personnel files for the Inland Revenue, which succeeded the Board of Excise, but details of Inland Revenue staff can be found in other records. Records of both services are held in several different series, mainly within the CUST and IR departments. There is no single index of people or places that can be used to find service records, so your search for information might require some patience.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • in which county the person was posted
  • the dates of his service

What records can I see online?

Parliamentary papers (late 18th century – 20th century)

Consult Parliamentary Papers for published reports of Excise activities. They can be searched online from subscribing organisations.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

Entry papers of Excise officers (1820-1870)

Search entry papers of Excise officers by name (CUST 116). Narrow your search by using quotation marks to find a person’s full name, such as “John Williams”.

Excise Board minute books (1696-1874)

The series CUST 47 are the minute books which contain information on the first and later postings of excise officers, with any praise or censure.

These original records are internally indexed and you can view the indexes to names online. For example if you wish to consult the original record CUST 47/345 covering September to October 1785, you can download and view the index to it in CUST 47/345/1.

Alternatively, identify the index you want by year using the search results of indexes to names then consult the corresponding original file.

Pension records and staff lists of Excise and Inland Revenue officers (1642-1970)

Browse CUST 39 in our catalogue for pension records and staff lists of Excise and Inland Revenue officers. These records have not been indexed, so you will need to search records for the relevant years. Most of the Inland Revenue staff files are in CUST 39/235-248. There is also a staff list for 1692 in CUST 109/9.

Excise pay lists for England (1705-1835) and Scotland (1708-1832)

Browse the English Excise pay lists in T 44 and the Scottish Excise pay lists in T 45.

Irish Excise records (1824-1844)

Browse CUST 110 for records of appointments (1824-1833) and the Ireland collection in CUST 119 for records of employment, recruitment and dismissal (1824-1844). These include records of English officers in Ireland as well as Irish officers.

Inland Revenue establishment lists (1869-1920)

Browse IR 147 in our catalogue for details of Inland Revenue officials. It covers staff in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Details include dates of appointment and promotion, salary, place of employment and, in some cases, date of birth.

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Scottish records

Contact the National Records of Scotland for records of Excise officers in Scotland.

Irish records

Contact the National Archives of Ireland and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland for some surviving Irish records of Excise officers.

Cornish records

Contact the Courtney Library at the Royal Institution of Cornwall and the Cornwall Record Office, for records about Excise men in Cornwall.

What other resources will help me find information?


Consult 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 1930.

Did you know?

Excise officers were introduced to collect taxes levied on home products such as alcoholic drinks, and as a result were sometimes very unpopular.

In 1849 the Board of Excise was amalgamated with the Board of Stamps and Taxes to form the Board of Inland Revenue.

In 1909 the excise responsibilities of the Inland Revenue were transferred to the newly established Board of Customs and Excise.