Thursday, 23 January 2014

Middlesex Appeal Tribunals WW1

From Beryl Evans at the Federation of Family History Societies (

The National Archives is making the digitised records the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal, which heard the cases of men seeking exemption from conscription into the army during the First World War, available online.

The records of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal, in 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 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. The collection is one of two sets of appeal tribunal records officially retained as a benchmark following the end of hostilities, and provides a unique insight into the impact of the First World War on families, businesses and communities far from the battlefields.

Local and county appeal tribunal records also survive in many local archives, within personal and local government collections, and with the Federation of Family History Societies, The National Archives has begun a survey of surviving material in local collections to supplement A2A and NRA data. Today's online launch has attracted a great deal of media interest, and although the focus is likely to be on the scarcity of surviving material, we anticipate that it may lead to an increased interest in locally held tribunal records.

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.

Search the case papers through our First World War 100 web portal at or search the series in Discovery, our catalogue:

Contact The National Archives with any enquiries relating to the project or the records at

(With thanks to Beryl)

NB: In Scotland, military service tribunal papers also survive for Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders, and also Ross, Cromarty and Sutherland (see Most other tribunal papers have unfortunately been destroyed.


My latest genealogy books are Tracing Your Family History on the Internet (2nd ed), Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, and Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet. My next Pharos course is Scottish Research Online, which commences Feb 27th 2014, 5 weeks, price £45.99.

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