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List of the principal records of British shipping and seamen, showing their present locations

The British mercantile marine has been regulated by the state from an early date. Since 1873, the General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen has maintained the registration of seafarers and of vessels. The majority of the records of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, which are selected for permanent retention, are transferred to the British National Archives, but some of the record series are in other repositories. The list below provides a brief description of the major record series. The list is organized in series. Each series lists the year covered by the records; a brief description of the holdings; the record series number; the location of the documents. Abbreviations are given at the end of this page.

Crew Agreements and Official Logs, Merchant Ships:

1747-1860   All surviving papers
1861-1938   10% sample of each year
1861-1862   90%
1863-1913   Small selection at County Record Offices
1863-1938   Remaining (70%) Crew lists
1865-1935   90% of the years ending in '5'
1902-1919   Official Logs
1939-1950   All papers

1951-1994   10% sample each year
1951-1976   Remaining (80%) Crew lists
1955-1985   90% of the years ending in '5'
1861-1938   Records pertaining to Celebrated Ships
TNA
TNA
NMM

MHA
NMM
TNA
TNA

TNA
MHA
NMM
TNA
BT 98
BT 99
BT 99
BT 99
BT 99
BT 99
BT 165
BT 99,
380, 381
BT 99
BT 99
BT 99
BT 100

In order to do research on an individual, the researcher must provide the name of the vessel that he/she sailed on and the approximate year of the voyage.

For information on ordering copies of crew agreements from the Maritime History Archive please go to the Ordering Crew Agreements page.

Registers of Seamen:

1835-1836   *Registers of Seamen, Series 1
1835-1844   Alphabetical index to the Register of
Seamen's Tickets in BT 112
1835-1844   *Register of Seamen: Series II
1845-1854   Alphabetical Index to the Register of
Seamen's Tickets in BT 113
1845-1854   Register of Seamen's Tickets
1845-1854   Alphabetical Register of Mates
1854-1857   *Register of Seamen: Series III
1918-1940  *Fourth Register of Seamen (The Central Indexed Register) (Originals held at the Southampton Archives)
1941-1972   Fifth Register of Seamen
1913-2002   Seamen's Pouches
1851-1948   **Lloyd's Captains Registers
TNA
TNA

TNA
TNA

TNA
TNA
TNA
TNA

TNA
TNA
MHA
BT 120
BT 119

BT 112
BT 114

BT 113
BT 115
BT 116
BT 348, 349,
350, 364
BT 382
BT 372

*Also available online at www.findmypast.co.uk/search/merchant-navy-seamen.
**Originals available at London Metropolitan Archives.

Registers of Apprentices:

1824-1953    Index of Apprentices
1845-1962   Apprentices' Indentures
1895-1935   Apprentices' Indentures for Fishing
TNA
TNA
TNA
BT 150
BT 151
BT 152

Registers of Certificates of Competency and Service Issued to Merchant Seamen:

1845-1849  Registers of Certificates of Competency and Service: miscellaneous
1845-1894   Indexes to the Registers of BT 122, BT 126, BT 128
1845-1906   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Masters and Mates - Foreign Trade
1881-1890   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Masters and Mates of Steamships, Foreign Trade
1845-1921   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Masters and Mates - Home Trade
1850-1888   Registers of Certificates of Service: Masters and Mates - Foreign Trade
1854-1888   Registers of Certificates of Service: Masters and Mates - Home Trade
1861-1921   Indexes to BT 139, BT 140 and BT 142
1861-1921   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Engineers
1861-1921   Registers of Certificates of Service: Engineers
1870-1921   Registers of Certificates of Service: Engineers - Colonial
1870-1921   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Masters and Mates - Colonial
1880-1917   Indexes to the Registers of BT 129 and BT 130
1880-1921   Registers of Certificates of Competency: Skippers and Mates of Fishing Boats
1883-1922   Registers of Certificates of Service: Skippers and Mates of Fishing Boats
1889-           Masters and Mates Home Trade
1896-           Masters and Mates Foreign Going
--------------   Surviving Certificates from the 19th Century
TNA

TNA
TNA

TNA

TNA

TNA

TNA
TNA
TNA
TNA

TNA/
MHA
TNA
TNA

TNA

TNA

RSS
RSS
NMM
BT 143

BT 127
BT 122

BT 123

BT 125

BT 124

BT 126

BT 141
BT 139
BT 142
BT 140

BT 128

BT 138
BT 129

BT 130

References to Births, Marriages and Deaths:

1837-1930   Marine Register Book - Births
1837-1965   Marine Register Book - Deaths
1852-1889   Registers of Wages and Effects of Deceased Seamen
1853-1889   Indexes to Seamen's Names
1854-1890   ***Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages
of Passengers at Sea
1855-1889   Indexes to Ships' Names
1857-1972F  Records of Marriages at Sea
1875-1888   ***Registers of Deaths of British Nationals at Sea
1875-1891   ***Registers of Births of British Nationals at Sea
1882-1888   Registers of Seamen's Deaths classified by cause
1886-1890   Monthly Lists of Deaths of Seamen
1891-1964   Registers and Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea
1914-1919,   Deaths at Sea - Returns of Deaths
1939-1964
1920-1938   Casualties and Deaths Lists (C&D)
1939-1945   Daily Casualty Registers
1939-1946,   Inquiries into causes of Deaths at Sea
1964
1939-1950   Casualties and Deaths Lists (C&D)
1965-to date   Deaths at Sea - Returns of Deaths
1965-to date   Registers of Births and Deaths at Sea
1973-to date   Records of Deaths on Oil Installations
GRO
GRO
TNA

TNA
TNA

TNA
RSS
TNA
TNA
TNA
TNA
TNA

NMM

NMM
TNA
TNA

RSS
RSS
RSS
RSS


BT 153

BT 154
BT 158

BT 155

BT 159
BT 160
BT 157
BT 156
BT 334




BT 347
BT 341

***Also available online at www.bmdregisters.co.uk/index.php.

Transcripts of Registers and Transactions Thereon:

1786-1800   Certificates of vessel registry
1786-1907F Index to ships registries
1812-1889   Certificates of vessel registry, Colonial Ports
1814-1889F Certificates of vessel registry
1890-1920   In respect of closed registries only, Colonial Ports
1890-1955   In respect of closed registries only
1890-1978   In respect to open registries
1956-1978   In respect of closed registries only
NMM
TNA
MHA
TNA
MHA
TNA
RSS
RSS

BT 111
BT 107, 108
BT 107-109
BT 110
BT 110

Registration of Fishing Boats:

1893-1938  Statistical register
1939-1978  Statistical register
1938-1978  Transactions on the register
TNA
RSS
RSS
BT 145

Annual & Quinquennial List of Ships Registered:

1786-1955  Annual lists of ships registered
1786-1955  Colonial ports only Registers
1956-1978  Annual list of additions and deletions only
NA
MHA
RSS
BT 162, 163
BT 162

Abbreviations

  • TNA The National Archives
  • NMM National Maritime Museum
  • RSS Registry of Shipping and Seamen
  • MHA Maritime History Archive
  • GRO General Register Office
  • F Indicates the record terminated in the given year

Addresses:

National Archives
Kew,
Richmond,
Surrey, TW9 4DU
ENGLAND
E-mail: enquiry@nationalarchives.gov.uk
Web: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

National Maritime Museum,
Park Row,
Greenwich,
London, SE10 9NF
ENGLAND
E-mail: nmmweb@nmm.ac.uk
Web: http://www.nmm.ac.uk

Registry of Shipping and Seamen
Anchor Court/Keen Rd
Llanishen,
Cardiff, CF24 5JW
WALES

Guildhall Library,
Aldermanbury,
London, EC2P 2EJ
ENGLAND

The General Register Office
ENGLAND
E-mail: overseas.gro@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Web: http://www.gro.gov.uk


For further information on genealogical research, we recommend My Ancestor Was a Merchant Seaman by Christopher T. and Michael J. Watts and Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office by A. Bevan & A. Duncan.



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