War Office fonds [textual record (chiefly microform), cartographic material, graphic material] [Great Britain]
Record Information – Brief
War Office fonds [textual record (chiefly microform), cartographic material, graphic material] [Great Britain]
- Hierarchical level:
- R14028-0-6-E, MG13-WO
- Type of material:
- Textual material
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Link to this page:
This link identifies the web page describing this particular record. Unlike the temporary link in your browser, this link will allow you to access, and reference, this page in the future. To link to this descriptive record, copy and paste the URL where ever needed (wiki, blog, document).http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.redirect?app=fonandcol&id=158960&lang=eng
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
32 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
844 microfilm reels negative & positive.
11.106 m of textual records transcripts, typescripts & photocopies.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of copies of records of the War Office of Great Britain documenting the British military presence in Canada from the eighteenth century. Arranged by War Office class number, these records document military and colonial government as well as the military defence of Canada. Included, for example, are: despatches, entry books of letters, muster rolls and pay lists, returns of regiments, warrants, subject files, printed reports, papers of senior officials, certificates of vital statistics, service documents, operational plans, registers of pensioners, reports and memoranda.
- Additional name(s):
- Biography/Administrative history:
Great Britain. War Office : The first permanent official of the army per se was the Secretary at War and his responsibilities encompassed many aspects of military administration. In the late seventeenth century the administration of military affairs also involved the cooperation of the two Secretaries of State, the Treasury, and the Board of Ordnance as well as the Paymaster General and regimental agents. War policy was directed by that Secretary in whose territory was the seat of war. From 1754 to the end of the American Revolution, the powers of the Secretary at War were greatly extended and his influence on the formulation of policy was enhanced. In 1782, however, the duties of the two Secretaries of State were restructured by dividing the responsibilities according to foreign affairs on the one hand and domestic and colonial affairs on the other. In 1783, the office of Secretary at War was placed on a statutory basis for the first time and the duties and prestige were reduced considerably. A further diminution of status came with the appointment of a Secretary of State for the War Department in 1794 to coordinate the war effort against France. The Secretary of State for War was given the added responsibility of administering the colonies in 1801. After 1815, he became increasingly preoccupied with the affairs of the Colonial Office. The first half of the nineteenth century saw no formal change in the system of military administration in which a number of independent offices and individuals were responsible for various aspects of Army administration. The four most important were the Commander-in-Chief, the Ordnance Office, the Secretary at War, and the Secretary of State for War. Others who performed specialist functions were the Comptroller of Army Accounts, the Army Medical Board, the Commissariat Department, the Board of General Officers, the Judge Advocate General, the Commissary General of Muster, the Paymaster General and the Home Office. The Crimean War exposed the weaknesses of a system of administration composed of numerous independent and quasi-independent offices. In 1854, the business of colonies was separated from that of war and the Secretary of State for War was placed over the Board of General Officers and the Commissariat, which was moved from the Treasury. The Home Office relinquished control over the militia and yeomanry. The following year the Board of Ordnance ended its life as the oldest of the country's military offices and the Secretary of State for War and the Commander-in-Chief divided its responsibilities. At the same time the Secretary of State for War was appointed Secretary at War to unite the duties of the two offices. The office of Secretary at War was finally abolished in 1863. The War Office, known at first as the War Department but from 1857 as the War Office, soon absorbed the various other bodies formerly responsible for Army affairs. The War Office Act of 1870 awarded complete responsibility for military affairs to the Secretary of State for War. The united War Office was divided into four departments: the Central Department under the Permanent Under Secretary; the Military Department under the Commander-in-Chief, the Control Department under the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, and the Financial Department under the Financial Secretary. Reforms of 1887 and 1888 brought additional changes to the War Office. In 1904, the system was further refined. An Army Council was devised to ensure civilian control of the army while at the same time providing professional military advice. The council was composed of the Financial and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and the Permanent Secretary of the War Office, along with five military officers, the whole presided over by the Secretary of State for War. During the First World War a number of War Office functions were transferred to new ministries but after the war, some functions returned to the War Office. The Army Council and the Secretary of State for War were both abolished in 1963. On 1 April 1964, the War Office was absorbed into a unified Ministry of Defence.
- Finding aid:
Textual records (Paper) Finding aids are identified at the series levels. (90: Open)(Electronic) All or some of the documents described have been digitized and are available at the following address: (90: Open)
http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_mikan_158960?usrlang=en(Electronic) Les documents décrits ont été complètement ou en partie numérisés et sont disponibles à l'adresse suivante : (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- Custodial history:
- With many offices involved in the execution of military affairs, the records pertaining to the administration of British military affairs have at various times been scattered and stored in numerous different buildings in London, England before being housed in the Public Record Office.
- Arrangement note:
War Office is to some extent an artificial group of records. Many of the documents in the group were indeed generated by a department called the War Office. However, the papers record the activities of several military departments and offices. Apparently for convenience and ease of research and because all the various functions ultimately became part of the War Office's responsibilities, the Public Record Office has placed all of these records together in one group., The War Office records are organized into numbered classes. There are numbered classes for each of the major military offices, generally under the headings In-Letters, Out-Letters, Minutes, Accounts, Registers, and Miscellanea (e.g. WO 4, Secretary at War Out-Letters); a number of classes of rolls and returns (e.g. WO 10, Muster Books and Pay Lists, Artillery); various collections of private papers which were presented to the War Office (e.g. WO 34, Amherst Papers); and a large number of classes of miscellaneous records (e.g. WO 40, Selected Unnumbered Papers). Within classes or within individual volumes there are few common principles of arrangement. The most usual order, however, is chronological, by regiment, or some combination of the two.
- Citation/reference note:
The following publication provides detailed information on classes of the War Office: C.M. Andrews, Guide to the Materials for American History, to 1783, in the Public Record Office of Great Britain, II, Departmental and Miscellaneous Papers (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1914). Also, Charles O. Paullin and Frederick L. Paxson, Guide to the Materials in London Archives for the History of the United States since 1783 (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1914). While concentrating on American history and despite the mass of records which has been transferred to the Public Record Office since their publication, these volumes can be very helpful to researchers studying Canadian history., There is also: Guide to the Contents of the Public Record Office, II, State Papers and Departmental Records, and III, Documents Transferred 1960-1966 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1963 and 1968., In addition, there is: List of War Office Records, Preserved in the Public Record Office, (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1908). Republished in 1963 by the Kraus Reprint Corporation of New York, it lists individual volumes within each class covered. Omitted were muster books and pay lists, most returns, private collections, the records of the Judge Advocate General's Office, and many of the classes of miscellaneous papers., There is also: An Alphabetical Guide to Certain War Office and Other Military Records Preserved in the Public Record Office (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1931). This is an index divided into two parts, General and Regimental, to thirty-one War Office classes as well as a small number of classes from the State Paper Office, Colonial Office, and Home Office.
- Preferred citation note:
- Cite as follows: National Archives of Canada (hereafter NA), Manuscript Group 13 (hereafter MG 13), War Office. The citation for a specific item on a microfilm reel would be, for example, MG 13, WO 97/3, microfilm reel B-1000.
- Location of originals note:
- The original documents are located in the Public Record Office, London, England.
- Reproduction note:
- The microfilm for originals of the War Office classes are available on "B" microfilm reels; the microfilmed transcripts are on "C" microfilm reels.
- Dates of creation note:
- Textual records: Microfilmed between 1953 and 1985. Transcribed between 1889 and 1950 approximately.
- Related material:
Related material may be found in other Public Record Office groups such as those described in Manuscript Groups 11 to 16 and MG 40, at the National Archives of Canada. This includes notes and memoranda sent to or from the War Office and other departments concerned with military matters. Special mention should be made of MG 11, Colonial Office, because of the particularly close relationship between colonial and military officials., Similarly, RG 7, Governor General's Office; RG 8, British Military and Naval Records; and RG 9, Department of Militia and Defence, all contain important documents relating to military questions in British North America., In addition, the private papers of politicians, civil servants, and military personnel frequently include letters to and from military departments in Britain. Of note are fonds or collections in MG 21, British Museum; MG 18, Pre-Conquest Papers; MG 23, Late Eighteenth Century papers; MG 24, Nineteenth Century Pre-Confederation Papers; MG 26, Prime Ministers' Papers; MG 27, Political Figures, 1867-1950; MG 29, Nineteenth Century Post-Confederation Manuscripts; and MG 30, Manuscripts of the First Half of the Twentieth Century.
- Subject heading:
- Former archival reference no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Textual records: There are no restrictions on the consultation of the microfilm for the original records of the "WO" classes or the microfilm of the transcribed records. Copies can be made for research purposes. Questions related to copying for publication or exhibition purposes of any of the microfilmed originals should be directed to the Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU, England.
Transcripts that have been microfilmed are not available for consultation. Researchers are requested to consult the microfilmed version of the transcripts.
- Date modified: