Catalogue description General registers, registered papers, warrant and entry books and correspondence; and records of General and E Departments, and wartime departments (First World War)

Details of Division within HO
Reference: Division within HO
Title: General registers, registered papers, warrant and entry books and correspondence; and records of General and E Departments, and wartime departments (First World War)

General registers, early warrant and entry books and other records covering the multifarious subjects for which the Home Office has had responsibility; also records of subjects which do not fit into other divisional categories.

Broadly, the subjects and their series in this division are as follows:

  • Addresses, HO 55, HO 57, HO 249
  • Admiralty, HO 28, HO 29
  • Advertisements, HO 174
  • Animals and wild birds, HO 183, HO 285
  • Automatic data processing, HO 337
  • Betting, gaming and lotteries, HO 320
  • Bouillon papers, HO 69
  • Burials, HO 85, HO 282
  • Byelaws, HO 70, HO 165, HO 339
  • Censuses, HO 71, HO 107
  • Change of name and arms, HO 142
  • Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Isles of Scilly, HO 98, HO 99, HO 284
  • Charities, HO 279
  • Charters, HO 72
  • Children, HO 354
  • Church matters, HO 115, HO 129, HO 304
  • Commissions, HO 74
  • Commissions rogatoires, HO 314
  • Confidential, HO 79, HO 151
  • Coroners, HO 166, HO 299
  • Counties, HO 52
  • County courts, HO 86
  • Creations, HO 116, HO 175
  • Dangerous drugs, HO 177, HO 319
  • Data Processing, HO 524
  • Disturbances, HO 40, HO 41
  • Domestic, HO 42, HO 43, HO 44, HO 117, HO 152
  • Elections, HO 53, HO 328, HO 359, HO 365
  • Entertainments, HO 179, HO 300
  • Exchequer fines, HO 153
  • Exequaturs and recognitions, HO 168
  • Expenditure, works and priorities, HO 321
  • Extradition, HO 134
  • Fees, HO 88, HO 143, HO 159
  • Foreign Office, HO 32
  • Home Office, HO 81, HO 82, HO 96, HO 97, HO 158, HO 173, HO 223, HO 347, HO 356, HO 362, HO 378, HO 384, HO 386, HO 404, HO 520
  • Honours, orders and medals, HO 178, HO 180, HO 286
  • Horse Guards and park gates, HO 120
  • Intelligence, HO 262
  • Inventions, HO 89
  • Ireland, HO 101, HO 122
  • Justices (borough), HO 90
  • Law Officers, HO 48, HO 49, HO 119
  • Legal Adviser's papers, HO 189
  • Licences to import and export, HO 91
  • Licences to plead, HO 135
  • Liquor, HO 170, HO 295
  • Local Taxation, HO 92
  • Magistrates, HO 94, HO 132
  • Maintenance and affiliation orders, HO 398
  • Malta, HO 364
  • Marriage, HO 313, HO 399
  • Mental patients, HO 343
  • Merchant shipping, HO 154
  • Military, HO 50, HO 51
  • Miscellaneous, HO 136, HO 138, HO 342
  • Nautical assessors, HO 331
  • Naval, HO 76
  • Official Press Bureau, HO 139
  • Pardons, HO 78
  • Parish acreage returns, HO 67
  • Parliamentary, HO 121, HO 164
  • Patents of appointment, HO 68
  • Petitions, HO 54, HO 56
  • Poisons, HO 305
  • Police, HO 58, HO 60, HO 65, HO 148, HO 150
  • Post Office, HO 33
  • Privy Council, HO 31
  • Public health, HO 172
  • Public offices, HO 34
  • Publicity, HO 303
  • Registered papers, HO 45, HO 144, HO 326
  • Registers of correspondence, HO 46
  • Safety, HO 371, HO 379, HO 381
  • Scotland, HO 102, HO 103, HO 104, HO 105, HO 106
  • Secret Service, HO 387
  • Shops, HO 171
  • Statistics, HO 155
  • Summer time, HO 380
  • Taxicabs, HO 385
  • Tithes, HO 80
  • Title 'Royal', HO 181
  • Traffic, aerial and road, HO 182
  • Treasury, HO 35, HO 36
  • Treaties, HO 273
  • United Nations, HO 274
  • Various departments, HO 39
  • Vivisection, HO 156
  • Warrants, HO 37, HO 38, HO 118, HO 141
  • War and Colonial Office, HO 30
  • Workmen's compensation, HO 157

World Wide Web site snapshots which were in HO 415 have been transferred to HO 421.

Date: 1700-2007

The establishment of a central registry in June 1848 saw the introduction of a new system of registering incoming papers. At the same time, papers from 1841 onwards were registered retrospectively. Papers on all matters dealt with by the Home Office were included in the system, except for papers on criminal matters, which were registered separately between 1852 and 1871, and papers of the Police and Statistical Department, registered separately between 1856 and 1865. In 1871 a new numbering system started, and papers for the years 1841 to 1871 were re-registered. From then until 1949 most papers were registered centrally, in a sequence of numbering systems.

In 1890 registry clerks began a system of noting precedents which expanded to form what served effectively as an index of significant policies and cases across the full range of Home Office work and all file series. These precedent registers, each of which covers a wide date span, are in HO 384

The 'six-figure series' was begun in 1902, and by 1949 had reached 972,229. The numbers were allocated consecutively as files were raised, and in the daily registers were entered under subject 'cuts' (eg Animals, Honours, Police, etc). The files will be found in HO 45 and HO 144, and the daily registers in HO 46

Other registration schemes, involving several-letter prefixes, had by 1949 been adopted in a few parts of the Home Office. Thus, the Establishment Division was at that time employing the prefix S.GEN for a file series which in 1949 came to be replaced by the ESG series. The latter development resulted from the issue of Home Office Notice 12/1949, which announced changes in the registry systems, and the introduction of the 'symbol series' files.

The six-figure series came to an end, and files were thereafter raised under subject headings, the subject being represented by the symbol, eg Establishments, general: ESG; Honours: HON; Police: POL. Following the symbol were three groups of numbers, the primary and secondary groups representing divisions and sub-divisions of the subject, and the tertiary group representing the number of the sub-file.

The inclusion of a date preceding a file number (as in ESG(1974) 404/1/24(s)) indicates that the year in which the file was created was included in the file reference number. Thus, the full departmental reference of a file listed as ESG(1974) 404/1/24(s) would be ESG/74 404/1/24(s). This system of prefixing an 'overyear' was introduced by Home Office Notice 116/1958.

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Home Office, Appointments and Accounts Department, 1865-1876

Home Office, Central Registry, 1848-1902

Home Office, Chief Clerks Department, 1782-1865

Home Office, Chief Clerks Department, 1868-1876

Home Office, Domestic Department, 1782-1913

Home Office, General Department, 1876-1896

Home Office, Industrial and Parliamentary Department, 1896-1913

Home Office, Miscellaneous (E) Division, 1913-

Home Office, Police War Duties Division, 1914-1918

Home Office, Prisoners of War Division, 1914-1919

Home Office, Trading with the Enemy Department (F Division), 1914-1916

Physical description: 164 series
Administrative / biographical background:

General Departments

The Home Office had a Chief Clerk from its inception in 1782. His duties included the preparation of warrants and commissions and the general administration of the Office, including the maintenance of the entry books of out-letters, discipline and establishment matters and the accounts.

In 1865 the head of the Domestic Department became Chief Clerk with responsibility for the general management of the Office, remaining in his own department. The former Chief Clerk's Department was renamed the Appointments and Accounts and later the Warrants and Accounts Department, with responsibility for the financial work of the Office. The Chief Clerk, however, remained accounting officer until 1876, until which date there were virtually three accounts branches, one under the clerk in charge of accounts dealing with the general financial work of the Office, a second under the examiner of police accounts, and a third under an accountant directly responsible to the Chief Clerk for audit of accounts. In 1868 the head of the Parliamentary Department, formed in 1865, became Chief Clerk, and his department was thereafter called the Chief Clerk's Department. It included the Local Taxation Branch and the library, and continued to deal with the parliamentary business. In 1876 this department was amalgamated with the Warrants and Accounts Department to form a General Department, whose head became the accounting officer. The Chief Clerk gradually lost his responsibility for the general administration of the Office, and the post lapsed in 1898.

In 1896 the General Department was dissolved and its work was distributed between the new Industrial and Parliamentary Department and the Domestic Department, which then became responsible for matters of general administration and establishment and for the work relating to warrants; it was also responsible for the work of coroners. In 1884 the two remaining accounts branches under the clerk in charge of accounts and the examiner of police accounts were amalgamated to form a single Accounts Branch. In 1909 the Domestic (D) Department became responsible for the supervision of this branch and for financial advice to all departments as well as for miscellaneous matters not dealt with by other departments. By 1912 the amount of work on miscellaneous subjects had so grown that the Domestic Department was split in two, forming D and E Divisions. The latter dealt with work relating to warrants and other formal business, and continued to do so after the war, while D Division began to develop into a specialist Children's Department. At the same time responsibility for coroners seems to have passed to C Division.

Miscellaneous (E) Division

The number of miscellaneous subjects dealt with by the Home Office increased in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the administrative work connected with many of them was carried out by the Domestic (D) Department. For much of the nineteenth century the latter had been a general administrative department working closely with several of the more specialised divisions, some of which were placed under its supervision.

In 1913 it was split into D and E Divisions. The former developed into a specialist Children's Department, while the latter took over formal business and a variety of other subjects. They included the prerogative of mercy, honours and creations, explosives and petroleum, the regulation of gambling, Anatomy Acts, vivisection, burials and cremations and other matters. Work relating to dangerous drugs, the Metropolitan Police, street traffic, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, and the protection of wild birds was added during the First World War. The Burial, Anatomy, Vivisection, Dangerous Drugs and Explosives Inspectorates were attached to it.

Following the First World War the metropolitan police work was transferred to the Police (F) Division and that relating to the Channel Islands to the Northern Ireland Department (G Division), while responsibility for the Anatomy Acts was transferred to the Ministry of Health. E Division remained responsible for the other matters, and the Home Office library was attached to it. In 1921 it acquired from the Ministry of Health some functions formerly performed by the Local Government Board, notably the supervision of electoral organisation.

In 1962 E Division became responsible once again for communications with the governments of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and Northern Ireland. The following year it inherited from I (International) Division, responsibility for examining draft treaties and conventions for Home Office interests, and the treatment of foreign nationals.

Wartime Departments (First World War)

The Police War Duties Division or War Measures Division was established in July 1914 to co-ordinate the activities of police forces in emergency duties placed upon them, including mobilisation of police constables for military duties, employment of special constables, clearance of possible invasion areas, control of lights, co-ordination of fire brigades, protection of munitions works and other vulnerable points, control of firearms, postal and cable censorship and control of wireless telegraph and intelligence work in conjunction with the War Office and the Admiralty. It continued after the war as the Police Department.

The Prisoners of War Division was established in November 1914 to deal with the internment and release of male civilian enemy subjects. Military and naval prisoners were the responsibility of the War Office; women, who here interned on special grounds, were dealt with by the Aliens (B) Division of the Home Office. For a few months the Prisoners of War Division was responsible to the Directorate of Prisoners of War at the War Office, but continued to operate from the Home Office and in conjunction with the Aliens Division. In May 1915 it again became responsible to the Home Secretary, who was from that point assisted by Advisory Committees on Internment and Repatriation of Enemy Aliens. In May 1919 the division was merged with the Aliens Division, which from May 1915 had dealt with internment and exemption from internment, the administration of civilian camps and, after 1916, visiting arrangements at all camps. Co-ordination of the activities of government departments in this field was carried out by the Prisoners of War and Aliens Department of the Foreign Office.

The Trading with the Enemy Department (F Division) was established in 1914 to deal with the detection and prosecution of offenders against restrictions on such trading. In February 1916 the issue of licenses to import enemy goods was transferred to the Board of Trade, and the division was transferred to the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Blockade.

The Central Permit Office was established during the war to regulate passenger traffic with Holland and, later, Scandinavia, Russia, Spain, Portugal and South America.

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