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This page describes records of applicants for old age pensions in Queensland and some other States, and leads to lists of 9,200 applicants' names. It explains who was eligible for a pension, and the implications for genealogy and family history research. See also 'Pension records before and after 1908-1909' below; and for a more detailed explanation of surviving records, see the book Tips for Qld Research.
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 Qld 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
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 Qld, and 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.
Sources indexed (all held by Qld State Archives):
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:
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.
Other pension records (before, during and after 1908-1909)
For years before 1908, use the following sources (which I can search as part of my professional research service at Qld State Archives):
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:
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.
Other Australian pension records (before, during and after 1908-1909).
Police Department correspondence re old age pensions and invalid pensions 1908-1952.
To find other overseas pension records, search for the word pension in FindMyPast's world list.
My other genealogy sites have more advice, and more names from records in archives.
Search this site (do NOT use apostrophes; read search results page carefully)I use and recommend FindMyPast (Australia / NZ, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada)
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