I.H.Q. Numbers

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Imperial Head Quarters (I.H.Q.) first started registering Troops and Packs and issuing numbers in 1921. The Certificate below is date 1st October 1919 but the individual registration ticket attached is dated 30th September 1921.  A letter remains from HQ that confirms the 1919 start date for registration. (See 1st Cambridge District registration documentation)

Before that date, the Troops and Packs were registered with the local District.

IHQ numbers are useful in researching Groups and District events.

  1. Gilwell searches for Groups are based on I.H.Q. numbers.
  2. They can link dates where several Groups are registered together: 900 numbers in 1921, 1990 numbers for new groups and 4700 numbers for troops becoming groups in 1928.
  3. A change in number can flag a change in registration, even when no other information is available.
  4. The retention of a number may indicate that no significant change in registration has occurred as with the 28th and 29th Cambridge.

Some changes of IHQ number do not indicate a significant change in the Group.  Numbers changed when Troops and Packs became Groups but internal arrangements were probably not affected.  These may be seen to be purely administrative changes. 

If a troop or group failed to re register on time each year a late registration generated a new IHQ number. It can imply a break in continuity of leaders rather than a hiatus in the running of the troop.

All the 900 numbers that remained from the first registration shifted to 7500 numbers around the start of the Group system in 1928.  The registration of 27th, 28th and 29th Cambridge in 1928 had all occurred ahead of the Group system renumbering in the same year. They were not altered but remained 1990, 1991, etc.

The individual ticket 910 is attached to the 1st October 1919 registration of 12th Cambridge (Viscountess Clifden’s Own). A letter from HQ with regard to 1st Cambridge District (Balsham) specifically confirms a start date of 1919 for this process.

Some groups retain a number but this does not imply a lack of change. The 29th Cambridge has had changes to names, affiliation, scarf and long periods of joint working with the 42nd and later restructuring with the 42nd and 25th, but retains the number 1991.

28th Cambridge has retained ‘1990’ having no history of absorbing or amalgamation, or altering name or colours or open status.

The IHQ numbers are not an infallible source of information – they do not always change with changes.  They rely on Districts informing IHQ of changes.  This did not always occur. New numbers were not always given for small changes.  The shift from Controlled to Open often did not result in a new number; the removal of a sponsor’s name from a title usually did. 

Packs had a separate IHQ numbering system before 1928, whether they were connected to a Troop or not.  Packs not directly attached to a Troop had a local letter code as well as an IHQ number.

I.H.Q. Numbers were not issued consecutively and gaps or defunct numbers were used. 

A single instance of a number with a letter has been found.  It appears to be an intended pen stroke, clear and deliberate.  Whether it remained unfinished, linked to a now lost footnote or an error in reading or recording from another source is not known.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019