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Judy Webster's Genealogy Tips and Indexes
for local, interstate & overseas folk with historical records
in Queensland and other Australian States.

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Old Age Pensions and Genealogy

Most Old Age Pension applicants 1908-1909 who lived in Queensland were born overseas. This page explains who was eligible for a pension, and the implications for genealogy and family history research, and it leads to lists of 9,200 applicants' names. See also (below) 'Other pension records' (before and after 1908-1909) and 'Interstate records'.

The Australian Commonwealth Government began introducing various pensions from about 1908, but for a brief period during 1908-1909, old age pensions were the responsibility of the Queensland State Government. Registers of applicants, and a few lesser sources, have survived and have been indexed. These registers include information about people who received the pension, plus hundreds of others whose applications were rejected. Although only those aged at least sixty-five (that is, born before about 1843-1844) were actually eligible, applications were received from many who were under the specified age.

Eligibility for the Old Age Pension 1908-1909

The Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 occupied twelve pages of the Queensland Government Gazette. The main criteria for eligibility are summarised as follows:

An application would be rejected if it failed to fulfil any of these criteria. Most rejections were on the basis of age or period of residence, but other reasons for rejection provide unique information about the applicant and his/her character and habits.

The maximum pension granted was 26 pounds per year (usually paid as 10 shillings per week). This was reduced if the applicant's annual income was more than 26 pounds, or if the total value of his/her property exceeded 260 pounds.

Implications for genealogical research

After a person lodged an application, the local police investigated the claim. No pension was granted unless statements made in the application were corroborated by documentary or oral evidence, so old age pension registers probably contain relatively reliable information.

In 1908-1909 electoral enrolment was not compulsory in Queensland, and old age pension registers give the place of residence of many people who were not on electoral rolls.


I indexed four (4) record series with over 9,200 names. For most applicants, the original records show:

About 300 entries give extra details (eg, marital status, exact birthdate, spouse's name, full address). There are also letters to, or about, some pensioners.

A more detailed explanation of the sources is my book Tips for Queensland Research, described on my Publications page.

* SEARCH the names in my Old Age Pensions Index 1908-1909

Other pension records (before, during and after 1908-1909)

For the years before 1908, use the following sources (which I can search as part of my professional research service):

Pension records after mid-1909 are held by the National Archives of Australia, to whom enquiries should be directed; but two Queensland sources may give some information:

Interstate records

The Macquarie Book of Events says that New South Wales introduced the first old age pensions in 1900, and similar legislation was passed in Victoria around the same time. Enquiries should be directed to archival institutions in those States.

Police Department correspondence 1908-1952 refers to some residents of other States. See also 'Other Suggestions' below.

Other Suggestions

Other Australian pension records (before, during and after 1908-1909).

Police Department correspondence re old age pensions and invalid pensions 1908-1952.

In Specialist Indexes in Australia: a genealogist's guide, see

My other genealogy sites have additional advice and names.

Search this site  (do NOT use apostrophes; read search results page carefully)

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