30 June 2014

Old Age Pension Records for Genealogy

 Register of applicants for old age pension
Register of old age pension applicants
Most people listed in the source I am about to describe were born in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany or Scandinavia. A few were born in other parts of the world, including Australia. All of them later lived (at least for a while) in Queensland.

Pensions were only under the control of the State Government for a short time, but Queensland State Archives hold records of more than 9,000 applicants for the old age pension 1908-1909. The records give information about people who received the pension plus hundreds whose applications were rejected. Most rejections were on the basis of age, period of residence or annual income, but some of the other reasons provide a clue to the applicant's character (eg, 'intemperate' or 'deserted his wife'). Although many applicants were under the required age, pensions were only granted to those aged at least 65 years (that is, born before about 1843-1844).

In 1908-1909, electoral enrolment was not yet compulsory in Queensland. Old age pension registers give the place of residence of many people who were not on electoral rolls. This includes some applicants who were not British subjects and not naturalised (and thus not eligible to vote) but who applied (though in vain) for a pension.

The vast majority of register entries give the claim date; surname; given name; country or Australian State of birth; alleged age; total number of years in Queensland; town or suburb of current residence; whether the application was approved or rejected; if approved, the amount of pension payable, date payment commenced and town where paid; if rejected, the reason for rejection; and sometimes other remarks such as 'sent to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum'. For many residents of Ravenswood and Townsville, a second register gives extra details (marital status, spouse's name, full address and exact birth date).

Names from my index to old age pension applicants, with full source references, are now on FindMyPast.

The names are also on my Web site, with an explanation of the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 and its implications for family history research, and advice about pension records and related sources before and after 1908-1909.

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