The Civil Service Evidence of Age for established civil servants and civil service examination candidates were collected by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) from 1855 in order to establish accurate birth dates for the purpose of either ensuring that an examination candidate was of the required age, or granting a pension.

By the 1980s, the CSC still held original documents for approximately 60,000 individuals, consisting largely of items that it would be impractical to replace, such as personal testimonials or documents from overseas. This important genealogical collection provides unique and often irreplaceable evidence of birth for which other sources are unlikely to be available.

In general, papers were not kept if the information could easily be obtained again from another source (such as through the Registrar General’s birth index). The collection consists mainly of employees who were born in a place or at a time where no state registration of births existed.

This was particularly the case for Scottish and Irish candidates and also for those born in foreign countries, on board ship (over 80 births) and in the British colonies. There are also many cases of candidates born in England after the start of civil registration whose births had not been registered: non-registration was not uncommon until fines were instituted in the 1870s.

A set of correspondence proving the age of civil servant ‘Patrick Moloney’ born 1857 in the county of Wexford, Ireland was recently unearthed and immediately flagged up as unusual.

The correspondences include a declaration from his mother ‘Johanna Maloney’ along with a forged ‘certified copy’ of the baptism entry, the REAL certified copy of the baptism entry, a certified copy of the entry from the Catholic Chaplin Wexford Workhouse records and letters from his suspicious employers requesting more information from the church and workhouse.

The employers who simply wanted to confirm the date of birth of Patrick Maloney had contacted his mother for a signed declaration and certified copy of his baptism..

The CSC was not convinced by the ‘certified copy’ of the baptism that Johanna had provided so decided to dig a little deeper. After months of corresponding, the CSC finally discovered the real circumstances behind the birth of Patrick Maloney which he himself was unaware.

According to both the workhouse and real baptism record, a ‘Mary’ Murphy gave birth to a illegitimate son Patrick Murphy on the 5th of January 1857. His father is named as Patrick Tully.

Having an illegitimate child at this time would have brought great shame on a girl and her family, this is possibly the reason why Johanna lied about her first name.

Johanna then decides to change her and her son’s surname to that of her mother’s maiden name ‘Maloney’. She then refers to herself as a widow in order to avoid the stigma of having an illegitimate child.

She convinces her priest to provide the CSC with a ‘certified’ copy of the baptism of her son under the name of Patrick ‘Malony’. The priest also lists her as a ‘Malony’ but as Mary rather than Johanna for which she is known by her son and the CSC. This is what arouses suspicion from the CSC.

Corresponding letters from a Mr. Doyle at the CSC are sympathetic towards Patrick Murphy’s mother’s blight and decide that the conflicting information regarding Patrick’s real birth details ‘”makes no difference, as long as the date is correct”. The letters suggest that Patrick Murphy is left unaware of his illegitimacy and his mother’s cover up story.

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