Thursday, 19 November 2015

Scottish Military Service Appeals Tribunal papers on ScotlandsPeople

ScotlandsPeople ( has released a new dataset from the First World War, albeit one that will only affect certain parts of the country. From the site:

The Military Tribunal system was set up under the Military Service Act 1916, which set down terms for mandatory military service. This updated the Derby Scheme, a voluntary recruiting scheme devised by Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, Director General of Recruiting, whereby men who 'attested', or voluntarily registered to serve in the military, would only be called upon for service when necessary. That scheme was introduced in autumn 1915 but was unsuccessful and abandoned by December. The new Military Service Act required all single adult males, aged between 18 and 41, to register for military service unless they possessed a certificate of exemption. By April 1918 the age range was extended, so that men aged from 17 to 51 could be called up, and exemptions were further restricted.

From 1916, men seeking exemption from military service could apply to various tribunals. There were three types: Local Tribunals, Appeal Tribunals and a Central Tribunal based in London.

Unfortunately, appeal records from these tribunal only survive for two regions in Scotland:

Due to the sensitive issues that surrounded compulsory military service during and after the First World War, only a small minority of the tribunal papers survive. In the years that followed the end of the war, the Government issued instructions that all tribunal material should be destroyed, except for two samples - the Appeal records for Middlesex in England, and the Lothian and Peebles records in Scotland. These were to be retained as a benchmark for possible future use.

The Lothian and Peebles Appeal Tribunal are now deposited in the National Records of Scotland (reference: HH30) and cover the Local Tribunal areas of Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders. Other chance survivals for Scotland exist, including papers from the Ross, Cromarty and Sutherland (Lewis Section) Appeal Tribunal, which are preserved in the NRS as part of Stornoway Sheriff Court records (reference: SC33/62). Both of these records series are now available on ScotlandsPeople.

Nevertheless, if you have a family member from these areas who participated in an appeal, this will be an exceptional record set. For further details on the collection, read the ScotlandsPeople site's full history of the process at and see examples of the papers at

Interestingly, the site is offering a new pay structure to see the results. The basic search is free, and if you come across a relevant find, you have two options for payment - you can pay £2.50 for the full result, irrespective of the number of pages contained within it, or use 10 credits (about 17p cheaper, but you have to buy a block of 30 credits at £7) to do the same.

An article on the release is also available from The National newspaper at


For details on my genealogy guide books, including my recently released Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit My Pinterest account is at

No comments:

Post a Comment