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Burton Arrivals Book, October 1915 - July 1919

Ledger recording persons moving to reside in Burton upon Trent County Borough, under the National Registration Act, 1915


An important government measure undertaken during the First World War was the creation of a national register of all persons between the ages of 15 and 65, who were not members of the Armed Forces. A National Registration Bill was rushed through Parliament in the summer of 1915 in response to a growing concern that military conscription might prove necessary to successfully prosecute the war. In Parliament the debate focused on the benefits of the efficient deployment of labour and the possibility of conscription was played down.

The central registration authority set up in England was the Registrar General acting under the direction of the Local Government Board, while the borough and district councils were the local registration authorities.

Forms were delivered to each residential dwelling to be completed and signed by each person aged 15 to 65, and to be made ready for collection by 16 August. There was a penalty of £5 for not completing a form or for giving false information.

These forms asked for:
  • Full name
  • Permanent address and present address if away from home
  • Age last birthday
  • Nationality if born abroad and not British
  • Marital status (single/married/widowed)
  • The number of dependent children under 15 and over 15
  • The number of other wholly or partially dependent persons excluding employees
  • Profession/occupation (particular kind of work done and material worked in or dealt with)
  • Name and business address of employer
  • Any employment for or under any Government Department
  • Nature of any work skill other than that at present employed in
  • Willingness to undertake such work

The forms were collected by representatives of the local authority and used to issue individual registration certificates bearing that person’s basic details.

Local council staff classified people into occupational groups and then filed the forms first by occupational group and then alphabetically by name. The male forms were used to draw up lists of men aged 19-41 for military recruitment, exempting those working in essential industries.

Burton Arrivals Book (Doc Ref No: BD23/2/4/95)

The Act dealt with the problem of changing address. It required anyone changing their place of residence to send or deliver their registration certificate to the local authority for the new location within 28 days, and if the change of address resulted in a move to a new local authority then the former should be informed so that their register could be updated.

In Burton upon Trent the relevant local authority was the county borough. Staff recorded persons moving to reside within the county borough using a pre-printed ledger. It is one of only three such ledgers surviving in Staffordshire, the others both being for Kingswinford Rural District (Doc Ref No: D585/1/9/1-2).

The Burton Arrivals Book contains the details of almost 3,100 persons between Oct 1915 and July 1919, although from 27 Feb 1918 onwards only the details of females were recorded. Entries were made in chronological order, which makes searching for particular individuals in the original time-consuming.

Malsters and brewery workers feature frequently, as Burton’s brewing industry continued to draw people for seasonal work. October 1915 saw the arrival of the last batch of “Norkies” until at least after the war. “Norkies” was the term for farm workers from Norfolk (and East Anglia generally) recruited to spend the winter in Burton as malting labourers, following a tradition dating from the 1860s.

For women the principal occupation recorded is “household duties”, which means looking after their own home, rather than being in paid employment in domestic service.

The details in this ledger provide a fascinating insight into life on the home front in an industrial Staffordshire town during World War I.

About this index

The index covers the Burton Arrivals Book (BD23/2/4/95), 1915-1919. The index contains the following information:

  • Surname
  • First names
  • Former address
  • Address in Burton
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital condition
  • Occupation
  • Date of despatch of certificate
  • Date of receipt of registration form

Occasionally the text is annotated. Only the occupation code number has been omitted from the index.

Searches in the index can be made by surname, former address and address in Burton.


We are grateful to Janet Kisz who compiled this index and researched the administrative background.