The Cardiganshire Great War Tribunal (Appeals) Records give a fascinating insight into the lives of men who were called up by the army during the First World War. They contain personal details, information about employment, reasons for the application against enlisting in the armed forces, the ruling of the tribunal and the reasons for this decision.
Although tribunals were set up throughout Wales, the Cardiganshire records are the only ones that were preserved, and they include the records of tribunals held in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Lampeter, New Quay and Tregaron.
In January 1916, as the First World War raged on with no end in sight, the British Government introduced the Military Service Act. The Act required all men between 18 and 41 to register for military service, unless they had a certificate of exemption.
Exemption could be claimed on grounds of essential war work, ill-health, family dependants or conscientious objection. Appeals against conscription were presented to military service appeals tribunals; a local tribunal would meet to discuss and adjudge cases, and a whole county tribunal would listen to appeals. About 2,000 tribunals were established across the British Isles.
In 1921, the Government ordered the destruction of their records, with the exception of two complete sets that were to be preserved: one in Middlesex and the other in Lothian & Peebles in Scotland. However, the Cardiganshire records survived, and they are kept at The National Library of Wales. This archive is entirely unique in Wales, and is one of a limited number still in existence.
The Tribunal records were transcribed in 2018 as part of the NLW Volunteer Programme, using the crowd.library.wales crowdsourcing platform. Workshops were held throughout Ceredigion with the support of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Records, which include over 10,000 pages, were transcribed by over 200 volunteers over the course of six months.
You can search the handwritten text in the Tribunal records within the Library’s viewer. Try entering one of the following into the 'Search within this item' box:
Select the green markers to see the results (if your search is successful). You can search again by selecting 'Clear'.
The records of Tribunals held at Aberystwyth, Llandysul, Lampeter, Tregaron and Aberaeron will also be available soon.
We provide access to other searchable resources, which may contain more information on some of the individuals who submitted appeals to the Tribunals. Try searching for a person’s name in one of the following:
We’d be interested to hear about any links that you find between the Tribunal records and these resources. Please send your stories to us using our Enquiries Service.