Catalogue description Records of the Paymaster General's Office and predecessors

Details of PMG
Reference: PMG
Title: Records of the Paymaster General's Office and predecessors

These records were created or inherited by the Paymaster General's Office, which was established in 1835. Among its predecessors was the Paymaster General of the Forces, other of whose records are in WO 79 and WO 109.

The records chiefly concern expenditure of the armed forces, and the payment of pensions, superannuations, allowances and bounties.

Records concerning the Army establishment are in PMG 1-PMG 14, PMG 33-PMG 36, PMG 57, PMG 60 and PMG 66; those concerning the Naval establishment are in PMG 15-PMG 26, PMG 56 and PMG 69-PMG 73; and those concerning the civil establishment are in PMG 27-PMG 28.

Pension records of all three armed services are in PMG 42-PMG 44, while those of Army alone are in PMG 45-PMG 47.

Records of the Paymaster of Exchequer Bills are in PMG 67.

Records concerning accounts, pensions, allowances and claims of such varied bodies as the Royal Irish Constabulary, teachers and Polish refugees are in PMG 48-PMG 51, PMG 53-PMG 55, PMG 62, PMG 64-PMG 65, PMG 68 and PMG 74-PMG 75.

For series created for regularly archived websites, please see the separate Websites Division.

Date: 1720-2002
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Paymaster and Treasurer of Chelsea Hospital, 1681-1835

Paymaster General of the Forces, 1743-1835

Paymaster General's Office, 1835-

Paymaster of Exchequer Bills, 1723-1848

Paymaster of the Civil Service, 1834-1848

Treasurer of Ordnance, 1670-1835

Treasurer of the Navy, 1546-1835

Physical description: 76 series
Access conditions: Open
Administrative / biographical background:

Before 1835 there were four separate departments dealing with the pay and related matters of the armed services: the Paymaster General of the Forces, the Paymaster and Treasurer of Chelsea Hospital, the Treasurer of Ordnance, and the Treasurer of the Navy. These four offices were consolidated in 1835 in the office of Paymaster General.

The Paymaster General of the guards and garrisons shared his duties with a Paymaster General of the Forces abroad for a period after 1703, but became sole Paymaster General of the guards and garrisons and land forces after the accession of George I, and by 1743 had become known as Paymaster General of the Forces. He almost invariably held in addition the office of Paymaster and Treasurer of Chelsea Hospital.

The Civil Service was originally paid partly by fees and partly from the Civil List. On the accession of William IV in 1830, however, in return for the surrender of the hereditary revenues of the Crown, responsibility for the payment of all civil service salaries and allowances was transferred from the Civil List to the Exchequer. When the Exchequer was reformed in 1834, the tally system was abolished and a single public account at the Bank of England substituted and the old Exchequer offices were abolished and replaced by two new ones: the Comptroller General of the Exchequer and the Paymaster of the Civil Service. The latter office was absorbed in that of the Paymaster General in 1848. In 1861 the office of Paymaster of Civil Services in Ireland was also merged in the Paymaster General's Office.

The Paymaster General's duties, originally confined to the pay, etc, of the armed services, were extended in 1848 when he absorbed the offices of Paymaster of Exchequer Bills and Paymaster of the Civil Service. He thus became the principal paying agent of the government and the banker for all government departments except the revenue departments and the National Debt Office. In 1872 he took over the duties formerly exercised by the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery. In 1926 this work passed to the Accountant General of the Supreme Court under the Administration of Justice Act 1925.

The Paymaster General makes payments on behalf of departments in respect of such items as salaries, contractors' accounts, subsidies, compensation and payments relating to social and other services. He is also responsible for the payment of retired pay and pensions to officers of the Armed and Civil Services and their widows and dependants, to teachers and to members of the Royal Irish Constabulary; and for the payment of Health Service pensions and pensions borne on the Consolidated Fund.

The Paymaster General is usually a minister without portfolio available for any duties which the government of the day may entrust to him. The post may be combined with another office, or may be left unfilled. It is sometimes occupied by a peer whose main function is to act for several departments in the House of Lords. He is not the effective head of the Paymaster General's Office, which is under a permanent Assistant Paymaster General, to whom nearly all the formal functions of the Paymaster General are delegated, and who regards the Chancellor of the Exchequer as his political chief.

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