Archives of Edwin Roberts

The Civil Service Prayer Union was not the oldest: The Combined Services Prayer Union started in 1851 . The Lawyers' Prayer Union was founded in London in 1852 and is now The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. The Young Women's Christian Association (1855) had a Prayer Union at its core.

Civil Service Prayer Union

Background and history from 1872 to 1914

Background to the Civil Service Prayer Union

Stephenson Arthur Blackwood (22.5.1832-22.10.1893), the major founder of the Civil Service Prayer Union, was the only son of Arthur Johnstone Blackwood, Gentleman Usher to William 4th and Queen Victoria, who held an appointment in the Colonial Office. In March 1856, "in recognition of his services in the Crimea", Stephenson Arthur Blackwood was given an appointment in the "Treasury Chest Department".
The Civil Service Prayer Union, when it started in 1872, was a "private association" of people in the upper parts of the Civil Service. Through evangelical work, its influence eventually worked down to the bottom of the service, the
boy clerks.

Having been moved, by his experience in the Crimean war, to a life of religious seriousness, he struggled with the world of "balls" "operas and theatres" and "flirtations" in which he lived. He had "Troublous times...undecided...World in my heart...God in my conscience...Falling back...Deceiving myself". At a Buckingham Palace Ball on 17.6.1856 he realised he could not continue to lead a "sort of half-and-half life". On the night of 27/28th June, he fell to the temptation of attending three balls. At the third, in "Willis's Rooms", St James, sitting "there under the chandelier" he went through a religious conversion that kept him out of balls for the rest of his life.

In his spare time, Stephenson Arthur Blackwood became a lay evangelist, preaching to many classes of society, including railway navies and policemen. In the spring of 1861, he and his friends, were moved to take their campaign to their own class, "that souls may be saved amongst the rich". Large meetings for the "Upper Classes of Society" were held in the Willis Rooms. It was a "Revival meeting" that "filled the great hall". "Outside, the empty carriages were drawn up in double rows". Mr Blackwood "was not ashamed to 'mention hell to ears polite' but

    "referred to the change wrought in himself ; and this for the purpose of convincing his auditory that there was 'no peace' while 'under sentence' and under sin, but that 'joy and peace' were realities to each one who 'believed'"

(S.M. and Mrs Blackwood, 1896 pages 3, 129, 134, 143-144, 216-217)

(S.M. and Mrs Blackwood, 1896 pages 379 following)

Civil Service Prayer Union

1872 "22 men met in a prayer meeting on March 6th 1872". This is counted as the beginning of the Civil Service Prayer Union, which merged with the Junior Civil Service Christian Union (founded ) in 1923 to become the "Civil Service Christian Union for Prayer and the furtherance of the Kingdom of God" (Soon known as the Civil Service Christian Union). A leading light amongst the founders was Stephenson Arthur Blackwood (Sir Arthur Blackwood) the first President of the union.

Civil Service Prayer Union Minute Book
1872 to 1896

Contains minutes from 6.3.1872 to 17.2.1896, plus a numbered list of members and their subscription payments.

6.3.1872 and 22.3.1872 "Two meetings were held at Mr S.A. Blackwood, No. 7 Cambridge Square, when the following Members of the Civil Service were present and when it was decided to form a Civil Service Prayer Union, and the Rules and Suggestions embodied in the ***** Card were agreed upon."

Apart (presumably) from S.A. Blackwood, those present were:
R.H.B. Castle, Customs
J. McCormick, Customs
Stephen Bourne, Customs
A. Pennefather, Home Office
H.C. Pierson, India Office
Henry Hill, India Office
Hon. F. Hobart, India Office
C. Walker, British Museum
A. Houghton, Admiralty
P.A. Smith, Admiralty
W. Willis, Admiralty
J.V. Fennings, Customs
E.J.W. Sommens, Customs
H.G. Smith, Customs
C. Willis, Customs
T.B. Bishop, Customs
J.R. Payne, War Office
H.B. Jackson, War Office
J.A. Beames, Court of Probate
E.E. Heathfield, Court of Probate
P.E. Vizard, Exchequer Office.

Inside the minute book is one original card and some photocopies. The card includes quotations from [Christian and Jewish] Scripture respecting prayer and Civil Servants plus:

It is proposed that children of God in the Civil Service should unite every Monday morning in supplication for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon each other, and upon all branches of the Service at home and abroad.

The following subjects are suggested:-

1. Confession of our shortcoming as servants of God, in word and deed-of our fear of man-and of our little use of the many opportunities afforded to us of making the gospel known to those with whom we are brought into contact in our daily duties.

2. Prayer for grace to confess Christ more boldly with our lips and in our lives, so that we may be "known and read of all men," and that we may be ready to take advantage of every opportunity to win souls to Christ.

3. Prayer that the Spirit of God may so richly dwell in us, that we may perform the duties of our profession in such a manner, as that God may be glorified in all things.

4. Intercession for the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and all the Royal Family.

For the Government, Heads of Departments and "all who are in authority," that the light of truth may continue to shine in our land, and "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all goodness and honesty".

For the unconverted members of our own Departments

It is further proposed that united prayer-meetings should be held on the last Monday in January, April, July and October, at a central place in London, to be made known to the members from time to time, and that similar meetings should, if possible, be held in the provinces at the same time.

Note - It is requested that the official address of the members of this Union may be furnished to

Stevenson A. Blackwood, Esq. Manor House, Crayfort, Kent, to whom all correspondence on the subject may be addressed.

CSPU early years

At the quarterly meetings, the attendance numbered 45 to 50. Mr T.B. Bishop (then in the Customs Department) was an active member. He founded the Children's Special Service Mission.

The first Quarterly Meeting was held at 48 Great Marlborough Street at 4pm on 29.4.1872. Quarterly meetings continued at 48 Great Marlborough Street until 26.7.1880 when the thirtyfourth quarterly meeting was held elsewhere, the Y.M.C.A (Young Men's Christian Association) "being in process of moving from Great Marlborough Street". About 40 were present. Ephesians 5 verses 1-20 and 2 Timothy 1 verses 1-18 were read.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 26.1.1874, About 50 members met for "Tea and Conversation at 5.30. Subject: 'How to advance the cause of Christ in the Service'". A Prayer meeting took place at 7pm. This seems to have been the pattern of the early meetings. The Prayer meeting started when the discussion ceased. The times of starting etc varied.

By the end of the year there were 153 members on the list.

"In 1875, the Union was placed on a more definite basis, with Mr Blackwood as the first President".

At the Quarterly Meeting on 25.1.1875, members again discussed "How to advance the cause of Christ in the Service". A provisional committee was elected:

    Stephen Bourne, Customs
    James Johnstone Bourne, War Office
    W. Willis, Admiralty
    A. Pennefather, Home Office
    J.A. Gosset, Inland Revenue
    E.E. Heathfield, Court of Probate
    S.A. Blackwood, Post Office.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 26.4.1875, the Committee was confirmed.

    "At a Committee Meeting held between the preceding Quarterly Meeting [26.4.1875] and this [25.10.1875], it was arranged that Mr S.A. Blackwood should be the President and Mr E.E. Heathfield Secretary to the Committee."

The notes in the Minute Book to this point are brief notes of the Quarterly Meetings in S.A. Blackwood's hand. From 26.7.1875 there are minutes of business in E.E. Heathfield's hand.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 26.7.1875, 40 members discussed "Individual effort". S.A. Blackwood was elected President and E.E. Heathfield, Honorary Secretary. At the Quarterly Meeting on 25.10.1875, 50 members discussed "Intercessory prayer: its power and reward". By the end of the year there were 210 members on the list.

The Bankers' Prayer Union

The London Banks' Prayer Union was formed on 9.12.1875, but it was preceded by unions for prayer and bible study in three individual London Banks. Mr H.A. Adams of the Union Bank of London promoted the idea of an organisation to include all London banks and this led to a meeting of about 100 people, at the YMCA on 9.12.1875, forming the London Banks' Prayer Union. The meeting was called by "many gentlemen holding high positions in Banks". Officers were elected and Mr R.C.L. Bevan became the first President, with H.A. Adams as the first secretary.

The original description of the aims is:

    "That its object be to unite for mutual edification and encouragement those engaged in London Banks who desire to live as disciple of Christ and to associate their efforts for the extension of His Kingdom".

The London Banks' Prayer Union was a men only organisation until 1918, when its constitution was amended "to admit ladies to membership". In 1921, it became the The London Banks Christian Union.

Source: The London Banks' Christian Union Centenary Celebration 1875- 1975 booklet.

The Stock Exchange Christian Association was founded in 1876. It had 250 members by 1901. Information from external link . See 1954 and Federation lists

Moody and Sankey

American revivalists, Moody and Sankey, filled the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington and the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, throughout the summer of 1875. They had strong support from evangelical anglicans, including Stevenson A. Blackwood.

Rev. Peter Morgan (Times 25.6.1966) draws strong parallels between this campaign and the campaigns of Billy Graham after the second world war. The Billy Graham campaigns had a strong influence on the Civil Service Christian Union (See Service1954).

The membership and attendance figures do not suggest that Moody and Sankey had any marked influence on the development of the Civil Service Prayer Union.

    "Manor House, Crayford, Kent. 5/1.

    Dear Heathfield,

    Thanks for Balance Sheet & Accounts which I return.

    List of members is very good. We don't make much progress as to numbers.

    I think I should mention the fact that Mr Appleford will give an address. -

    May God give us a year of blessing.

    Go in the Lord,
    S.A. Blackwood "

    [Note on the reverse of the cover sheet for the C.S.P.U. Balance Sheet & Accounts 1876. Mr Heathfield put the note inside his copy of the 1886 Year Book.]

At the Quarterly Meeting on 29.1.1877, 45 members heard an address by Rev. W. Appleford on Luke 11 verse 13 and Romans 8 verse 6. By the end of the year there were 230 members on the list.

Scripture Union:
T.B. Bishop, and other members of the Civil Service Prayer Union were active in the Children's Special Service Mission. The Scripture Union dates its start from 1.4.1879 when the C.S.S.M. issued membership cards with lists of bible readings on. Later on, explanatory notes were printed in children's magazines. In 1923 "Daily Notes" appeared in separate booklets available to the public.

Until the 1920s, the Civil Service Prayer Union was like the post-1923 Scripture Union, in that the main activity of members was a private one. In the case of the Prayer Union, weekly prayer with bible readings. In the case of the Scripture Union, daily bible readings with explanatory notes.

The decline of the "Prayer Union" (as distinct from meetings) in the 1930s may have been linked to the development of the Scripture Union.

In the second world war, many young men and women were using the Scripture Union notes for their private devotions. Those who reformed the Civil Service Christian Union, after the war, already had "Daily Notes" as their private guide, and saw no need for the Civil Service Christian Union's "Prayer Calendar" - which died quietly.

From the 1950s, members of the Civil Service Christian Union were often encouraged to wear Scripture Union badges as a means of being recognised as [evangelical/bible-based] christians in their offices and elsewhere, and making contacts that could help to start Civil Service Christian Union branches.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 26.7.1880, 50 members discussed "The study of the word of God: its method and practice". The first printed report of the Civil Service Prayer Union was issued in January 1880. By the end of the year there were 255 members on the list.

The Report on 1881 said "This has been a year of some note in our annals, as in it, our Prayer Union has been made more publicly known than had been previously thought necessary". An 1886 "Retrospect" commented that "Until this time, the Union had been a quasi private one."

At the Quarterly Meeting on 31.1.1881, W. Godsell of the India Office was elected as the representative to the Y.M.C.A and he and T.B. Bishop were mentioned as suitable for Committee. They were welcomed at the next Committee, held at Mr Blackwood's, Cumberland Place, on Monday evening 9.2.1881 when the proposal (by Mr Blackwood) for a "Circular to Civil Service" was considered. The circular was adopted at a committee meeting at Mr Willis's room in the Admiralty on Wednesday 2.3.1881, "copies to be sent to each member of Committee for approval".

At the Quarterly Meeting on 25.4.1881, 75 members discussed "The position and duties of the christian as an heavenly citizen, Philippians 3, verse 20". Representative Members were appointed.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 25.7.1881, 60 members discussed "The position and duties of the christian as an earthly citizen, Romans 13 verse 1-7". A circular was distributed through the Civil Service in London calling attention to the Prayer Union. At the Quarterly Meeting on 31.10.1881, 100 members discussed "The prize of our high calling: what it is and how attained to."

At the Quarterly Meeting on 31.1.1882, 110 members discussed "The christian life of Matthew 5, verses 3-12: its principles and its rewards.

8.3.1882, a Special Meeting by general invitation through the Civil Service, in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the Prayer Union. About 600 gentlemen present.

The minute book reads:

"Special Meeting at Exeter Hall Wednesday March 8th to commemorate the tenth Anniversary of the prayer Union. Tea and Coffee 4.30. Meeting at 5.30. Earl Cairns in the Chair. Addresses of Professor Gladstone on Current Literature and the Law of Christ and Dr Sinclair Peterson on Faith in relation to evidence followed by Mr S.A. Blackwood on personal knowledge of Jesus and the need for it. About 600 members and their friends present (Men only)" [The "(men only)" had been added later and "men" was underlined]

1882 was also the birth of a quarterly paper:

At the Quarterly Meeting on 24.4.1882, 90 members discussed "What it is to be the salt of our departments, and what it is to lose our savour, Matthew 5, verse 13 and Mark 9 verse 50". Notes of remarks at Quarterly Meetings commenced.

At about this point in the Minute Book there is an entry "Notes of Quarterly Meetings discontinued here - See printed notes".

7.12.1882 Conference of Representative Members.

The next two to three years witnessed great growth in the Provinces, meetings being commenced in Newcastle, Dublin, Liverpool, Derby, Hull, Edinburgh, South Shields."

At the Quarterly Meeting on 29.1.1883, 100 members discussed "Conversation as a means of christian usefulness, Colossians 4 verses 5 and 6 and Philippians 2 verses 15 and 16.

7.3.1883 Meeting for the Messengers. About 600 present.

At the Quarterly Meetings on 30.4.1883, 80 members discussed "The effect of the cross of Christ upon the Christian's life and what it is to glory in it, Galatians 6 verses 14. Meetings commenced at Dublin and Newcastle-on- Tyne. [The meetings in different places were usually held on the same day and on the same subject. The remarks at the meetings were then collated and circulated. In this way the whole prayer union, including isolated members, was included.]

At the Quarterly Meeting on 30.7.1883, 70 members discussed "Patience: its place in the Christian's life. Romans 5 verses 3-5; Hebrews 6 verses 11 and 12, Revelations 3 verse 10. Junior Prayer Union established. [This is not the same as the Junior Civil Service Christian Union established in 1891]. Meetings commenced at Liverpool.

At the Quarterly Meeting on 29.10.1883, 80 members discussed "The yoke of Christ: what it is and how it is to be borne, Matthew 11 verses 28-30. Quarterly Paper commenced. Circular making known the Prayer Union to those joining the Civil Service first issued.

Civil Service Prayer Union Quarterly Paper

Some copies are in a fragile condition. Several are folded, but uncut, sheets and therefore difficult to consult. Until Spring 2001, they were tied by pink (faded red?) tape in good quality wrapping paper with a typed note: C.S.P.U. QUARTERLY PAPER. MAIN SET. The paper had, at some time, been sent "From Messrs. Eyre & Spottiswoode, Ltd., His Majesty's Printing Office, East Harding Street, Fetter Lane, E.C.4." to "E.M. Craven esq, Secretaries Office, Custom House, E.C." Amongst the notes on the paper is " Mr Lane to be called for" and "Gwydy House".

The magazines of the Junior Civil Service Christian Union in Edwin Roberts archives show signs (bus tickets as markers, for example) of having been read by him. The impression from the Civil Service Prayer Union magazines is that they were inherited as a bundle, and may not have been opened since 1930.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No 1 [Missing]

Sailors - Soldiers - Policemen

The Christian Police Association was founded in 1883 by Miss Catherine Gurney. Within "a period of ten years" associations were formed for Soldiers by Miss Elsie Sandes and Sailors by Miss Agnes Weston. (On and Off Duty September-October 1960, back page)

Elise Sandes 19.2.1851-19.8.1934. Author of Enlisted Enlisted; or, My Story: Incidents of Life and Work Among Soldiers First published in Forward 1894-1899? The Soldiers' Christian Association was founded in 1881.

Agnes Weston (28.3.1840-23.10.1918) Her Sailors' Rests (later Royal Sailors Rests) was founded in 1876

At the Quarterly Meetings in 1884 members discussed "Personal responsibility: its nature, limits and discharge as illustrated by..." Different parables were taken as the illustration each quarter.

In January an enlarged "Card of Prayer" with a cycle of prayer and scripture portions was issued. [This appears to mean that to the General Subjects for Prayer was added a list of the Mondays in the year with a passage of scripture "for meditation" and a subject "for special prayer". This became known as the "Prayer Calendar" and it was issued yearly until the late 1930s.]

CSPU Quarterly Paper Nos 2,3 and 4 [Missing]

Committee Meeting 18.2.1884: Letters from Mr P.E. Vizard [one of the founders] showed him to hold unitarian views. He was sent a letter requesting he resign his membership of the prayer union.

Meetings commenced at Derby, Hull and Edinburgh in April/May. The inaugural meeting at Edinburgh was on 17.5.1884, but its first Quarterly Meeting was held on Monday 28.7.1884, in line with the meetings in other towns.

28.7.1884 Meeting of the committee at which the "Union thrown open to all ranks and both sexes" (1886 Retrospect) (See below)

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.5, October 1884.

"Membership At the close of the last Quarterly Meeting the Committee held a long and anxious consultation upon the important expression of opinion which was obtained at the Conference in the previous May, a full report of which was printed in the July number of the Quarterly Paper. After fully considering the various arguments which have been advanced on both sides of the question, the committee resolved as follows:-

    That in view of the almost unanimous opinion of the recent Meeting of Representative Members, and in accordance with the character of the Union, which is for the Civil Service, Membership be open to all ranks of the Service, but that, in London, separate Quarterly Meetings be held for female Members of the Union."

Membership qualification

Committee Meeting 2.12.1884: "That a general meeting of members and their friends (both sexes) be held on Monday April 27th. Tea at 5.30 addresses at 6.30. Subscription for expenses. Mr Blackwood to preside."

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.6, [Missing]

Meetings commenced at South Shields in January

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.7, April 1885.

250 people attended the General meeting of members and their friends on 27.4.1885. In his opening address, explaining the reasons for the meeting, Mr Blackwood said:

    "There were, moreover, special circumstances which led us to convert our usual quarterly meeting into a general one tonight. We have recently enlarged our borders in a particular direction. Till within a few months ago, the "Civil Service Prayer Union" consisted only of those who are termed, for want of a better name, the major ranks of our different establishments; but we thought it would only be in accordance with our name, and in accordance with the principles of christianity which make of every class, and of either sex, all one in Christ, that our Union should include female members and officers of other ranks in the Service than those to which I have alluded. That enlargement was decided upon some months ago, and I am glad to know that it has resulted in a very considerable accession to our numbers in many departments. We felt, therefore, that it would be well to signalize that arrangement by having a general meeting, when for the first time we should meet together, and thus stamp, as it were, our unity in the fellowship of the gospel, and our Prayer Union, as a real union of both sexes and of all ranks, for the purpose of glorifying God, of helping one another who are already by grace brethren and sisters in Christ, and strengthening our efforts to reach those who day by day are joining the Service..." (Reported Quarterly Paper No.8, July 1885.)

Committee Meeting 18.5.1885: "That in view of the success of the meeting 27 ... members of the female staff be invited to be present at the next Quarterly meeting. The question of inviting them to the October meeting be referred to the chairman and Hon. Sec."

27.5.1885 Conference of Representative Members. Arthur Blackwood's address "Representatives" is reproduced as the first article in Christian Service

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.8, July 1885.

27.7.1885 Separate meetings for women abandoned. And Junior Prayer Union merged in the larger one.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.9, [Missing]

Committee Meeting 16.11.1885: "Resolved that all future Quarterly Meetings be open to both sexes."

1885: The Civil Service London City Mission Fund was commenced. Since then [this written in 1932] between £50 and £60 have been subscribed annually by members and supporters towards the salary of a London City Missionary working amongst London Tram and Bus men.

Civil Service Prayer Union.
Year Book 1886

Printed for Private Circulation
Upper Norwood: G.H. Burdett and Co. 1885.

In Edwin Roberts archive, the original CSPU card of 1872 and surviving early Quarterly Papers seem to be the only printed documents of the Prayer Union that are older than this Report.

The Report seems to be the only annual report of the Civil Service Prayer Union (as distinct from the Junior and Christian Unions) in the archive. It is a 40 page booklet and includes A Retrospect giving the history of the union from 1872, a Supplement as to India describing the formation of the Union in India, the President's address at the general Meeting, 1875, the 13th annual report, lists of members with their subscriptions and "Arrangements for United Prayer 1886) [later called the Prayer Calendar].


President: S.A. Blackwood, C.B., Post Office.
Vice President: S. Bourne, Customs
T.B. Bishop, Customs
J.J. Bourne, Retired
S. Court, Post Office, Derby
W. Godsell, India Office
J.A. Gosset, Inland Revenue
Captain Helby, R.N., Coldbath Fields Prison
H. Hill, India Office
T. Hunter, Post Office, Newcastle-on-Tyne
C.E.H. Jay, War Office
C.E. Lefroy, Probate Division, Dublin
J. Milne, Customs, Hull
W.G. Stewart, Liverpool, Retired
W.T. Oldrieve, Office of Works, Edinburgh
A.R. Pennefather, Police Office
E. Bond Railton, Post Office, South Shields
Honorary Secretary, E.E. Heathfield, Probate division. Address- Holmthorpe, Upper Norwood, S.E.

Boy Copyists

In 1874, two years after the Civil Service Prayer Union was founded, Queen Victoria signed an order authorising the employment of Boy Clerks in the Civil Service. In 1886, the Lords of the Treasury issued an order closing the regime of the Men Copyists, and authorising the employment of Boy Clerks to the utmost extent in their place. This had an enormous effect upon the Boy Clerks in the Service, who entered at the rate of a thousand a year. (V.P. Peacock 15.11.1911. Civil Service Observer p.249)

During the eighties, hundreds of lads [1932 phrase] were entering the Civil Service as Temporary Boy Copyists (afterwards called Boy Clerks). They were temporary because they were thrown out of employment at 20 (later 18) unless they passed another examination and so passed into the permanent Service.

In the late eighties, the Civil Service Prayer Union provided "tea fights" and evangelistic services for the Boy Copyists. Out of this sprang the Junior Civil Service Prayer Union in 1891. The above picture is taken from the ninth annual report (year ending 30.9.1899) of (what had become) the Junior Civil Service Christian Union. The same Annual Report has a picture of "Juniors at Study" which you can see (from a later source) by clicking on the above picture.

In the early years of the twentieth century there were about 2,000 boy clerks.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.10, January 1886.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.11, April 1886.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.12, July 1886.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.13, [Missing]

The Indian Branch of the Civil Service Prayer Union, though planned in 1886, decided to date its start from 1.1.1887 in order to produce a Calendar of Prayer that would have special relevance to India. The Subjects for Special Prayer every Monday in India were printed at the end of the 1886 circular:

January 6: Her Majesty the Queen Empress and all the Royal Family
January 11: Bishops and Chaplains, and Ministers of all Christian Denominations in India
January 18: Universities and Colleges
January 21: Quarterly Meetings

February 1: Members of the Civil Service in Lower Bengal [map]
February 8: High, Chief, and District Courts and Government Law Officers
February 15: Assam [map]
February 22: Survey and Settlement Departments

March 1: Civil Surgeons, Medical and Sanitary Departments
March 8: Political Department
March 15: Punjab [map]
March 22: Indian Army
March 29: European Members of the Indian Civil Service who have not found the Lord Jesus

April 5: The Viceroy and Heads of Governments and Administrations
April 12: Quarterly Meetings
April 19: Education Department and Schools
April 26: Hindoo Members of the Indian Civil Service

May 3: Subordinate Civil Courts
May 10: Madras [map]
May 17: Post Office
May 24: Public Works Department
May 31: Telegraph Department

June 7: Indian Marine and Port Establishments and all sailors visiting India
June 14: Central Provinces [map]
June 21: British Burma [map]
June 28: Native States [map]

July 5: Secretary of State and India Office
July 12: Native Christians in the Indian Civil Service
July 19: Children and young relations of Members
July 26: Quarterly Meetings

August 2: Government of India, Members of Council, Secretaries, etc
August 9: Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Collectors. Assistant and Deputy Collectors, and all engaged in Land Revenue Administration.
August 16: Police and Jail Departments
August 23: Railways.
August 30: Salt and Customs Departments

September 6: Mint, Registration, Stamps, Stationer, and Printing
September 13: Scientific and other Departments not specially mentioned
September 20: Bombay and Sind [map]
September 27: Legislative Councils

October 4: Local Governments and Secretariats
October 11: Opium and Excise
October 18: Members of the Parent Branch of the Civil Service Prayer Union in England
October 25: Quarterly Meetings

November 1: Native Rajahs, Nawabs, and Ruling Chiefs [map]
November 8: Local and District Boards and Municipalities
November 15: Magistrates and their Establishments
November 22: North Western Provinces [map]
November 29: Forests

December 6: Accounts and Currency Departments
December 13: Mahomedan Members of the Indian Civil Service
December 6: Absent Friends
December 6: The Coming of our Lord

This (1887) is the earliest, or earliest surviving, copy of the Civil Service Union: Calendar of Prayer and List of Members. The last booklet "List of Members" of the "Civil Service Christian Union for Prayer and the Furtherance of the Kingdom of God" was in 1928.
1887: The committee included the President of the Indian Branch: Hon. Sir C.U. Aitchison, K.C.S.I. Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab and Honorary Secretary of the Indian Branch H.E.M. James Deputy Director General of the Post Office 2, Camac Street, Calcutta. There were five pages of India based members, some of whom have Indian names. There was also a member in Lagos, Africa. Members were in many departments in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

1889: The one member in Lagos had become two pages of members. There were also two pages of members in Canada. There were single members in Cape Colony, South Australia, Western Australia and Egypt. The main centres in India were Lahore in Punjab, Simla (highland retreat for Europeans), Allahabad, Calcutta, and Rangoon in "Burmah". There were many areas, such as Madras, with only one member. [map]

1928: List of Members Contents (page numbers give some indication of relative numbers): England and Wales p.6 - Scotland p.28 - Ireland p.30 - Gibralter p. 32 - Roumania p.32 - India p. 33 - Canada p.43 - United States p.44 - Africa p.45 - Australia p.45 - New Zealand p.47 - China p.47. The largest membership in India was in Madras, with four pages in many districts.

An Overseas Secretary was appointed in 1931. See also 1937. The Indian sub-continent was at the core of the overseas part of the union and so the union lost its overseas (apart from missionary work) dimension after the second world war. It revived in 1960 with the formation of the Nigerian Civil Service Christian Union

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.14, January 1887.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.15, [Missing]

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.16, July 1887.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.17, [Missing]

The Christian Post Office Association

The Christian Post Office Association was begun on 8.4.1887. Its formation was announced in a two page leaflet called The Quarterly Mail. A year later it had branches in six London Districts and twenty-six other places. The first Annual Meeting was not held until Wednesday 20.2.1889, when the chair was taken by Sir Arthur Blackwood, the General Secretary of the Post Office. The 1889 meeting at 8.15pm in the City Temple on Holborn Viaduct, was a large stage occasion:

    "The building is fast filling with one continuous throng of CPOA friends and workers, and an ever increasing number of officers from all grades of the service. The distant echoes of drum and fife bands foretell the arrival of the telegraph messengers. First a volunteer brigade from the Central Telegraph office, some 200 strong, next the EC messengers with their band. The left aisle of the church is lined with messengers to await Sir Arthur Blackwood's arrival."

And when he comes, two of the messengers are in for a shock:

    "We were telegraph messengers at that time, and standing together in the aisle of that great London church we felt hands gripping us by the shoulder and a hearty voice saying 'Lads, do you love the Saviour?' It was Sir Arthur".

Source: T.D. Spicer, 1993 Communications that Count The Post Office and Telecommunications Christian Association.

See Overseas 1937 and beyond - 1949/1950 - 1957 - Federation - 1972 - 1977 -

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.18, January 1888.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.19, [Missing]

CSPU Quarterly Paper Nos 20 to 61, all present.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.42, January 1894: "Death of Sir A. Blackwood."

    The following passage from G. F. Lane's history does not seem to fit the actual dates that the appearance of the Quarterly Paper changed:

      "About the end of the first decade of this century there is evidence that some members were not happy as to the state of the Union and feared it was losing its power and its usefulness. The Quarterly Paper was made more attractive, there was some revision of the Calendar of Prayer, and it was 'deemed advisable to propose certain changes in the constitution, with the object of better adapting it to the views and feelings of younger members and thus perhaps arresting the decline of membership from which undoubtedly it has recently suffered.'"

With a light grey cover

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.62, January 1899.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.63, April 1899.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.64, July 1899.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.65, October 1899.

    The Civil Service in October 1899

    Described by G. Ritchie Rice in 1981:

    "When I started as a Civil Servant in October 1899, on the day on which the Boer War began, the War Office was situated in Pall Mall in old buildings that have now been replaced by the R.A.C. Headquarters. Lighting was not very good; gas mantles were used for general lighting and in addition, at 4.0 pm in the winter months, the branch manager came round and lit four candles on each of the clerks' tables. Typewriters were coming into use but many letters and forms were written and completed by the use of copying ink, and then copies were made by a Copying Press on damp tissue paper. The old soldier in charge of this work often produced "copies" that were almost illegible.

    It was a very busy branch, arranging transport for the troops to go to South Africa, and my chief, who later became Quartermaster General, was very kind. At Christmas time we all received presents from him. I had a delightful book-holder for the desk or table in polished oak and hammered copper, with the words "Judge not a boook by its cover". He also secured tickets for his staff for the Trooping of the Colour on the Horse Guards Parade and for the Royal Tournament. Free!"

Commenting on the phrase "crinkley paper" in Consequences, a story by Rudyard Kipling published in 1886, John McGivering says: "they may have been written in copying-ink and then screwed up in a press with a damp sheet of cloth to produce a copy in the days before typewriters were in general use. The process is believed to have been invented by George Stephenson, (1781 - 1848) and includes a cast-iron press that screws down on the work."

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.66, January 1900.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.67, April 1900.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.68, July 1900.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.69, October 1900.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.70, January 1901.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.71, April 1901.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.72, July 1901.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.73, October 1901.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.74, January 1902.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.75, April 1902.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.76, July 1902.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.77, October 1902. [Missing]

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.78, January 1903.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.79, April 1903.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.80, July 1903.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.81, October 1903.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.82, January 1904.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.83, April 1904.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.84, July 1904.

CSPU Quarterly Paper No.85, October 1904.

White paper covers

CSPU Quarterly Paper Nos 86 to 161, all present.

Study links outside this site
Picture introduction to this site
Andrew Roberts' web Study Guide
Top of Page Take a Break - Read a Poem
Click coloured words to go where you want

Andrew Roberts likes to hear from users:
To contact him, please use the Communication Form

before after

Early letter
22 men meet in prayer
minute book,
prayer card
early years,
T.B. Bishop


How to advance the cause of Christ in the Service

President Blackwood
Bankers Prayer Union
Moody and Sankey


Dear Heathfield,


Scripture Union

The study of the word of God

Until this time, the Union had been a quasi private one

600 gentlemen
quarterly paper
Representative Members

Synchronised preyer and Bible study
Dublin and Newcastle

unitarian founder - expelled
Derby, Hull and Edinburgh
all ranks and both sexes


Year Book,

Boy Copyists,

Christian Post Office Association,

1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893

Death of the President,

1895, 1896, 1897, 1898,

Boer war and candlelight,

1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914,


    The 1854 Northcote Trevelyan Report on The Organisation of the Permanent Civil Service led to the establishment of the Civil Service Commissioners to regulate appointment to rapidly expanding government offices. (external link history)

    The 1867 Reform Act made a "leap in the dark" towards democracy by giving votes to better off working men in towns.

    The 1870 Education Act found a way round conflicts between the Church of England and dissenters and provided state run school education for children. This became compulsory by 1880

    Boy Copyists were recruited into the Civil Service as temporary workers from 1874.