Friday, June 26, 2009

Canadian Civil Service salaries published online

The world’s largest collection of Canadian Civil Service records is now available on the internet. today launched over 200,000 Canadian Civil Service records for the period 1872-1918. The fully searchable records offer a fascinating insight into the machinery of government - from the Governor General’s office and those employed in Parliament (House of Commons & Senate) to the 10 people in the “Slide and Boom” Service of the Inland Revenue all of whom are meticulously accounted for. The online records reveal the civil servants name, position, department, length of service, salary and date of appointment.

The period covers the early years of the Dominion of Canada from 1872 through to the end of the First World War, when immigration to North America was increasing Canada saw the majority of migrants arriving from Britain and Ireland which accounted for a large proportion of the Government Service Lists. In 1870 this influx reached its highest level.

The earliest Returns detail the origin and creed of those in the civil service. Canadians were described as French or British or even Irish and German but these distinctions eventually disappear.

When Engineers were paid more than Lawyers

Interestingly the highest paid civil servant in 1872 was the Scottish born Sir Sandford Fleming, who was fondly known as the “Inventor of Standard Time” as well as being the founder of the Canadian Institute. The 19th Century was the Age of Steam and the innovator Fleming was the Chief Engineer for the Intercolonial Railway (later to become the Canadian National Railway) who earned $4,800. The importance of Fleming’s position is underscored by the fact the Deputy to the Minister of Justice was paid only Canadian $2,600. An Under Secretary of State fared somewhat better with an annual salary of $2,840 – by contrast a labourer earned as little as 70 cents a day, the equivalent of $18.70 today. At that time the average annual wage was $1,695.

In 1872 there were 3,704 civil servants which increased to 8,312 by 1909. The latest figures show that there are now over 454,000 Canadian civil servants.

Included in this online collection are individuals who shaped and transformed the country in those early days. One of these was Richard Burton Deane, an officer and author educated in India and Ipswich (England) who in July 1883 was appointed by the Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald as an inspector in the North-West Mounted Police in July 1883. After the North-West rebellion Deane became responsible for the prisoners, including Louis Riel one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history.

These comprehensive records spanning 47 formative years of Canada’s Administration are a vital part of the Dominion’s development and the source for family historians whose forebears left Britain for a new life and in many cases reached importance and fame in their adopted country. The collection is available online to all members and by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 with other datasets at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who really owned Britain – was it your forbears?

Britain’s Victorian “Doomsday Book” released online by

The first ever complete collection of fully searchable Landowner returns is published online today for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

A record of who owned land in Britain and Ireland was created over a hundred years ago by the Victorians as a response to the great outcry about what was described as the monopoly of land. The wildest and most reckless exaggerations and mis-statements of fact were uttered about the number of individuals who were actual owners of the soil.

In the House of Lords it had been said that according to the Census of 1861 in the United Kingdom, there were no more than 30,000 landowners and although this estimate arose from a misreading of the figures, its accuracy had never been disputed, the true status was a matter of conjecture but it was believed to have been nearer 300,000 landowners.

In these circumstances a comprehensive “Return” was called for and termed the “Doomsday Book”. It was published in 1873 almost a thousand years after William the Conqueror commissioned the original Domesday Book in 1086.

These fascinating Returns provide the name and address of every Owner and their holding in acres, rods and poles, with the estimated yearly rental valuation of all holdings over 1 acre. Interestingly lease holders at the commencement of their term were considered as owners also, however those at the end of their term were not so considered.

As a result over 320,000 landowners of one acre or more can be searched online representing 1% of the entire population of the United Kingdom. The number of owners with less than one acre was nearly 850,000. London the “Great Metropolis” was excluded from the Returns as was waste land if it yielded no profit.

Among the landowning aristocracy were the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry who owned 432,373 acres in the Scottish Highlands and the Duke of Norfolk with 44,638 acres mostly around Arundel Castle in Sussex. The Prince of Wales’ estate at Sandringham is listed with 6,724 acres, as are Charles Dickens and Alfred Tennyson with more modest holdings.

The Victorians with their conviction for detail and orderliness even counted asylums, hospitals, colleges, school trustees, railway companies, navigation companies, sewer commissioners, War department, water works and river commissioners as a vital part of their record keeping.

The database is available to search online and is organised under each county, with name and address for every landowner. The collection together with 650 million historic records is available online to all members and visitors by way of an annual subscription of only £30.00 or US$50.00 at