Shopkeeper Harry Harris appealed his conscription on economic grounds

22 January 2014

Today The National Archives is making the digitised records of over 8,000 individuals seeking exemption from conscription into the army in Middlesex during the First World War available online.

What the records reveal

The records of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal (file series MH 47) include case papers of over 8,000 individuals, as well as administrative papers reflecting the changing policy towards conscription as the war progressed. The collection is one of only two complete surviving collections of tribunal records, and provides a unique insight into the impact of the First World War on families, businesses and communities far from the battlefields. 

The records reveal men seeking exemption on medical, family or economic grounds, as well as the relatively small proportion wishing not to fight on moral grounds as conscientious objectors.

The Middlesex Appeal Tribunal was one of the county-level appeal tribunals, part of a national system of military service tribunals that were established across the UK to hear applications from men seeking exemption from military service.

By opening up access to these records online, family historians will be able to discover the stories of Middlesex ancestors, and researchers will be able to study the records in new ways, giving new insights into this little known part of the war.

Raw catalogue data available

We are also making the raw catalogue data for the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal case papers available on our Labs site, to encourage researchers and web developers to experiment with new applications, online tools and ways of visualising data.

Find out more

The digitisation of this collection has been generously supported by The Friends of The National Archives and Federation of Family History Societies and forms part of The National Archives' programme of events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Find out more about the digitisation of MH 47 at our talk on 30 January.

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