How to look for records of... Customs officers

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

The National Archives holds most surviving records of English Customs officers, as well as many from Ireland. As there is no single index of people or places that can be used to find service records your search for information may 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

Online records

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

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

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 (£).

Customs Board minute books (1734–1885)

Browse CUST 28 in Discovery, our catalogue, for minute books of Customs officers. These do not record appointments but include details such as leave, transfers, suspensions, sackings, resignations and pensions for existing officers.

Unfortunately, because of a fire at Custom House in London in 1814, very few minute books from before 1814 have survived.

From 1839 the volumes are quarterly. They are internally indexed, but before 1849 some of them have been split into two parts, with the index in the first part.

Pension records and staff lists (1642–1970)

Browse CUST 39 in our catalogue for pension records and staff lists of Customs officers. These records have not been indexed, so you will need to search records for the relevant years.

Quarterly bills of salaries (1675–1829)

Browse CUST 18 and CUST 19 in our catalogue for quarterly bills of salaries and pay lists.

Warrants for the appointment of Customs officers (1714–1797)

Search the indexes to warrants for the appointment of Customs officers in C 202/267–269 for a reference to the warrants themselves in C 208.

General records

Search, browse and consult the following departments for various records of Customs officers:

  • Boards of Customs and Excise (CUST) – the main department for records of Customs officers
  • Chancery (C) – including Customs officers patent rolls
  • Treasury (T) – including applications for pensions and appointments

Records in other archives and organisations

Scottish records

Contact the National Records of Scotland for records of Customs 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 Customs officers.

Cornish records

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

Other resources


Consult ‘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.