United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

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United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
United Kingdom
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Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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Location of United Kingdom
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Record Description
Record Type Merchant Marine
Collection years 1835-1941
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
The National Archives

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

The collection is comprised in three series of seamen’s tickets.

  • Series I began in 1835 and ended in 1836 (BT 120)
  • Series II included 1835. It was kept until 1844. It is divided into the actual tickets (BT 112) which is arranged in numerical order and the index to the tickets (BT 119). It continues from 1845 to 1854 with tickets (BT 113) and an alphabetical register (BT 114). Within this register M’, Mc, and Mac surnames may be filed under “M” or under the names. For example: MacDuff may be filed under “M” or under “D”
  • Series III covers the time period 1853 to 1857 in an alphabetical arrangement without index (BT 116)

The collection is in good condition with little damage to the volumes. These records contain information on all of the merchant seamen between 1835 and 1857.

An act of Parliament required agreements and crew lists to be filed with the Register Office of Merchant Seamen to create a means of manning the Royal Navy in wartime.

Registration of merchant seamen was provided for in the 1835 Merchant Shipping Act. Seamen were engaged by the voyage at this period, and there was no permanent merchant service. The registers were made up from the new returns of agreements and crew lists for each voyage. In 1857 the use of seamen’s registers was discontinued.

This collection includes records for the years 1835 to 1857.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

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For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

Series I, BT 120, 1835-1844, includes the following information:

  • Ticket number
  • Name with surname first, followed by the given name
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • Quality – whether a seaman, a master, a foreman, a carpenter, a mate (position on board the ship)
  • Ship belonging to (name of the ship and the port it docked at such as London, Liverpool, etc.)
  • How disposed of (in most cases nothing is mentioned. In some cases a desertion is noted with the date and the location)

Series II, BT 112 with index in BT 119, 1835-1844, includes the following information:

  • Number
  • Name, with surname first, then given name
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • Multiple fields for entering multiple voyages, which include a code for the ship’s name, and destination of the voyage

BT 113, 1845-1854, includes the following information:

  • Ticket number
  • Name with given name first followed by surname
  • Place of birth
  • County of birth
  • Date of birth
  • Capacity
  • Height
  • Hair color
  • Complexion
  • Eye color
  • Marks
  • First went to Sea as
  • Year (first went to sea)
  • Has served in the Royal Navy
  • Has been in Foreign Service
  • When unemployed, resides at
  • Issued at (place ticket was issued)
  • Date (ticket was issued)
  • Age in 1845
  • Age when ticketed
  • Can write
  • Multiple columns by year in order to record out voyages and return voyages. A ship number was used to indicate which ship the seaman sailed on.

BT 114, index to BT 113 includes the following information:

  • Number of register ticket
  • Name, surname first followed by given name
  • Place of birth or residence

Series III, BT 116, 1853-1857 (no index) includes the following information:

  • Name (given name first, followed by surname)
  • Place of birth
  • Age
  • Multiple columns for each year
  • Under each year column there are two columns, one for outbound voyages and one for return home voyages. The date and ship are entered into the columns for each voyage taken.
  • Remarks

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

To begin your search in the Seamen Records, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:

  • Name of ancestor
  • Approximate year of birth
  • Place of birth

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Use the age to calculate an approximate birth date
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find your ancestor’s birth record and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records
  • If your ancestor served on Royal Navy ships, search for other military service records

I Can't Find the Person I'm Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Check for variant spellings of the surname or check for a different index

Research Helps[edit | edit source]

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?[edit | edit source]

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A full bibliographic record is available in the FamilySearch Catalog.

  • Alphabetical register of seamen, 1835-1844--class BT 119--index to BT 112. Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department
  • Register of seamen's tickets, 1845-1854 (BT 113) and alphabetical register of seamen's tickets, 1845-1854 (BT 114) Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department
  • Register of seamen, series II, 1835-1844--Class BT 112 Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department
  • Register of seamen--series III, 1853-1857--class BT 116 Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department
  • Registers of seamen series I (1835-1836)--class BT/120 Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department
  • Alphabetical register of masters, 1845-1854--class BT 115 Great Britain. Board of Trade. Mercantile Marine Department