Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tracing an ancestor in the South African Constabulary

If your ancestor served in the South African Constabulary (SAC), his Record of Conduct and Service is an important source of information. 

These personnel files provide the individual’s full name, birthplace and date, a detailed physical description, his marital status, occupation, religion, list of promotions or transfers, any medical reports, date of and reason for discharge, address in cases of change of location, as well as name and address of next-of-kin. Should he have defaulted in any way during his period of service that will show in the record. 

The South African Constabulary was established to keep law and order in the Transvaal, Orange River Colony (Orange Free State) and Swaziland. It was a semi-military force recruited from British men in the Cape and Natal as well as from further afield – Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India and Ceylon. Over 1200 Canadians served in the SAC; their records are held in South Africa.

There are 9 452 Records of Conduct and Service files held in the National Archives, Pretoria. These are indexed and reflected on NAAIRS at  under the database TAB. Search on your ancestor’s name to find the full file reference.

To access the record or acquire a digital copy of the contents, rather than attempting to involve the various SA archival repositories directly, it’s advisable to delegate to a private researcher or alternatively to use the eggsa document-ordering facility. For more about the latter see

In the Free State the SAC, initially known as the ORC (Orange River Contingent) was later (1908 - 1913) the ORC Police. Filmed records are available via FamilySearch: read more at

About 5 000 service records of the Free State Police (FSP) are held in Free State Archives and these are also indexed on NAAIRS under the database VAB.

South African Constabulary

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