Photograph of Excise boat (Catalogue reference: CUST 143/15)

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)

      Browse CUST 47 in Discovery, our cataloguea search tool with descriptions of tens of millions of documents from the UK central government, law courts, and other national bodies, for minute books which contain information on the first and later postings of Customs officers, with any praise or censure. These records have not been indexed, so you will need to search records for the relevant years.

    • 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. 

  • What other resources will help me find information?

    • Books

      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.