How to look for records of... Civil or crown servants
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
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?
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.
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.