Click to enlarge
Search this site
Judy Webster's genealogy tips & indexes for local, interstate & overseas folk in Queensland's historical records
© Copyright, Judy Webster

Why I use & recommend Findmypast

Home   |   About   |   Advice   |   Indexes   |   FAQ   |   Family tree   |   Links   |   Publications   |   Services   |   What's New

You are here:  Home  › Indexes  › Pensions
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:

  • currently resident in Queensland, and aged at least 65 years
  • resident in Queensland for a total of at least 20 years (not necessarily continuously, except for the 5 years immediately preceding the application)
  • unable to maintain himself / herself
  • of good moral character, having led a temperate and reputable life for the previous 5 years
  • net capital value of property not exceeding 260 pounds
  • has not, without just cause, deserted his / her spouse, or his / her children aged under 14 years, for a period of a year or more, within the preceding 5 years. (A man could also have his application rejected if he had failed to support his family)
  • if not a British subject, must have been naturalised for at least 6 months
  • Chinese and other Asiatics were not eligible for the pension under any circumstances, even if they were naturalised or British subjects
  • Aboriginal natives of Australia, Africa, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands were not eligible

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.

Sources indexed:

  • Home Secretary's Office: register of old age pension claims, 1 Jul 1908 - 10 Sep 1908
  • Home Office: register of applicants for old age pension, Aug 1908 - Aug 1909
  • Home Office: letterbook of letters on old age pensions
  • Clerk of Petty Sessions, Ravenswood: register of applications for old age pensions, 13 Jun 1908 - 5 May 1909
  • Clerk of Petty Sessions, Townsville: register of applications heard in Pensions Tribunal (Commissioner's Court), 13 Jun 1908 - 26 May 1909

My index to those sources has over 9,200 names. The vast majority are from the State-wide registers (the first two above), which give:

  • claim number
  • date claim was registered
  • surname and given names
  • country (or Australian State) of birth - with the exception of the first 500 applications, on which this is not recorded
  • 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
  • occasionally other remarks (e.g. 'sent to Dunwich Benevolent Asylum')

The two Clerk of Petty Sessions registers give similar details for applicants in their local area, plus (usually) marital status, spouse's name, full address and exact birthdate. The letterbook contains copies of letters from the Home Office to, or about, some pensioners. Only a small proportion of the entries are from these three sources.

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):

  • Home Office: alphabetical register of applications for Charitable Relief, 1899-1904. Gives date and town.
  • Home Office: index to register of persons to whom Outdoor Relief is payable, Jan-May 1905. May give age, district, how long in Queensland, and remarks re death date, movement to another district, etc.

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 the other suggestions below.

Findmypast





Ancestry - 14 Days Free
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

  • Goulburn District (NSW) - Pioneers, Pensioners, and Small Cemeteries
  • Imperial Pensions (Queensland)
  • Ireland: Old Age Pension Claims, 1908-1922

To find other overseas pension records, search for the word pension in Findmypast's world list.

My other genealogy sites have additional advice and names.

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

I use and recommend Findmypast (Australia / NZ, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada)

Revenue from ads goes to charity

Top of page

Revenue from ads goes to charity

Home   |   About   |   Advice   |   Indexes   |   FAQ   |   Family tree   |   Links   |   Publications   |   Services   |   What's New
Updated 3 Jun 2017 © Copyright Judy Webster.   My 'Privacy policy' and 'Disclaimer'.

Creative Commons License This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License. I hold copyright in the contents of the site, which may be used for personal research only. If you reproduce any content in any way, you must acknowledge that it belongs to me. If you wish to use any part of this site for professional or commercial purposes, you must contact me in advance to obtain my permission.