Cambridge District Scout Archives

            1968                Dear Fred ‘It is not often I handle a Warrant signed by the founder.’

Note from W T Thurbon Warrant Secretary to Fred Feary ADC dated 25/5/1968 on returning a warrant.    Fred joined Scouting on a temporary basis in 1919.

Signature from C T Wood’s Warrant of the 23rd June 1910, as preserved in his scrapbook.


Warrants were a formal appointment.  The term now used is Appointment.  Before warranting or appointing a Scouter scouting has always made checks locally and, through headquarters, nationally.  The appointment was confirmed nationally.

The District Minutes for February 1918 refer to a three month Apprenticeship before recommending warrants for an ASM and SM.

1935 POR        Warrants are issued by I.H.Q. at its discretion, to Scouters of the following ranks:–

  •  Commissioners           C.C., A.C.C., D.C.C., Ak.L., D.C., A.D.C.
  • District Scouters          D.C.M., D.S.M., D.R.S.L.
  • Group Scouters           G.S.M., C.M., S.M., R.S.L., A.C.M., A.S.M., A.R.S.L.

Warrants were not issued for:– (1) Honorary Rank (2) Non-executive ranks County Secretary. Chairman L.A. Treasurer L.A. Secretary Chaplain Instructor Examiner Surgeon Lady Worker

They were issued on the advice of the local Warrants committee which reported to the District Executive.  The Scouter published Warrant lists and a sample reading of November 1930 which had a number of Lone Scout warrants being issued or cancelled.

Warrants Issued

The Warrant Committee was a standing committee that oversaw local appointments.  The individual reports are not available and, whilst names of those being registered and resigning are were noted in District Executive Minutes, little is recorded of the local process or the outcome of enquiries.

1935 POR        Duty of L.A.     The L.A. must satisfy itself in every case that the applicant is fully fitted by character and previous history to be entrusted with the care of the boys, and has, in particular:– (1) The necessary qualifications required by the rule relating to the rank in question. (2) A full appreciation of the religious and moral aim underlying the scheme of Scouting. (3) Personal standing and character such as will ensure a good moral influence and sufficient steadfastness of purpose to carry out the work with energy and perseverance.

The local responsibilities to the wider Association are clearly laid out.

1935 POR        ‘Refusal  Where recommendation is refused on the ground that the person is undesirable or unfit to have charge of boys, a report must be sent by the L.A. Secretary to I.H.Q. through the C.C.’

The form below from 1947 was to be completedIMMEDIATELY upon  any person starting work with the Group.’ It is for the role of Instructor and Honourary Member, roles for which warrants were not issued, but is the only example in the Archives.  It lists the years as a Scout and the badges and awards achieved, notably Kings Scout.


73.       …where a person’s antecedents are not fully known, the L.A. or D.C. must consult I.H.Q. before even probationary service is permitted.

 Very occasionally discussions are noted, as below. As any clearly negative feedback would have ruled out the possibility of a warrant this voiced objection presumably came from more nebulous uncertainties.  The responses to enquires, positive or negative, are not recorded in the archives.

1944    From a leaflet concerning child abusers  ‘…we have records of everyone who has ever held a warrant.  We keep a particularly careful record of persons who have proved unsatisfactory and have had to be turned out of the Movement and of other undesirables who have tried to get into it…’

1947    Objection to giving a warrant to Mrs. G.I. was voiced by a member in District Executive on grounds of character.  The member was asked to submit his objections in writing to the warrant committee for review.  The committee took evidence from Mrs. Miller and recommended the warrant.

1947    A small number of pre printed Post Cards from IHQ remain in the archives.  They variously state: The secretary thanks you …‘all is in order’The secretary will feel obliged for a reply … ‘asking for further details (maiden name)’ or ‘with reference to cancelling of warrants… .

1949    Temporary Warrants (issued during the war) were replaced by permanent warrants renewed every two years.  Clearly the process was stretched by the social upheaval.  Many examples exist of Scouters in the forces working with Cambridge groups for short periods.

1963    Warrant Secretary W T Thurbon, reported a need for further locked accommodation for the Warrants.  A new filing cabinet was purchased.

Warrants Cancelled

On resignation the standard formula in the District Minutes was merely to record the fact, to record it ‘with regret’ or to record it ‘with thanks’.  Occasionally the secretary is instructed to write to the departing Scouter with thanks.

Resignations were occasionally assumed.  In particular during WW2 some serving Scouters had ‘gone away’ added to their details, although many were able to formally resign.  When one Group ceded from the Association the warranted leaders who communicated their intent were deemed to have resigned, the Assistants were approached individually asking what they intended.

Lists of those who had ‘ceased to hold office’ started in the H Q Gazette in Feb 1911.

Warrants Returned

Warrants were returned to IHQ for cancellation and provided service had been satisfactory returned to the Scouter.  Fred Feary, fifty years a Scout Master and awarded the Silver Wolf in 1970, was ‘satisfactory’.

Warrants had benefits for the holder outside Scouting.  The cancellation, a physical stamp on the certificate, was important to avoid abuse of these benefits and The Scouter published notifications, appeals and occasional warnings about named individuals.  These were more frequent during the dislocation of WW2.

The Scouter Oct 1955

JWR Archivist Feb 2019