Lists of 270,000 merchant seafarers at sea in 1860-1913 have been made available
The indexes to lists of crew members working on British merchant ships
between 1860 and 1913 are now available online at Find My Past.
Over 270,000 merchant seafarers are included in the crew list indexes,
which were completed by ships every six months, from captains to able
seamen to engine room staff and stewardesses. Family historians can now
view the indexes online to help track down seafaring ancestors, who have
been notoriously more difficult to trace than their land-dwelling
The records are from ports around the British Isles so the indexes give
genealogists the opportunity to find ancestors wherever they had signed
on – not just ships from their home port.
With the launch of this latest set of records, in association with the
Crew List Index Project (CLIP), Find My Past is further expanding its
extensive collection of online records to help family historians compile detailed information about their ancestors’ lives.
Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at Find My Past, says, “The UK has a
vast array of records documenting our seafaring ancestors, who played
such an important part in the nation’s history. However, due to the
complex nature of the documenting system, these records are held in many
different archives across the country, creating a massive hurdle for
family historians looking to access their ancestors’ records.
“Happily, the Crew Lists Index Project has made huge strides in
collating a national index of the records, which we’re making easily
accessible to the general public online.”
Peter Owens of CLIP adds, “Thanks to all the hard work by many
volunteers, this is data which will make researching seafarers far
simpler. This publication is another important step in making these
records accessible, and we hope it will stimulate a growing interest in
our rich maritime past.”
How to trace seafaring ancestors:
1. Log on to Find My Past and search for your ancestor in the
‘Crew Lists’ section.
2. Once you have located your ancestor, make a note of the ship’s
official number and records source. The original records are not
currently hosted online, but you can contact the repository that holds
the original records to arrange access to the documents. The original
documents will contain information about each crew member’s age, date of
birth, date of signing on and off the ship, their occupation, the ship’s
voyages and the names of any ships in which the crew member previously