To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
Central Register of Seamen (aka Fifth Register of Seamen), 1941-1972
Browse the catalogue descriptions of records from the Central Register of Seamen 1941-1972 in BT 382 (the records themselves were known as CRS 10 forms). Our catalogue descriptions are arranged alphabetically in ranges of surnames.
The registers are filed in eight parts according to the nationality or ‘origin’ of the seamen and other criteria (each part has been assigned its own subseries in BT 382). Select from one of the eight subseries of the register to target your browsing of the series more efficiently (for seamen of European origin you should look for records in both Part 1 and Part 2).
These CRS 10 forms are often referred to as seamen’s docket books and can include the following details (for the full list of possible details see the series description of BT 382):
- date of birth
- place of birth
- rank or rating
- a list of ships and their official numbers with date and place of engagement
- F or H (for Foreign or Home trade voyage)
- date and place of discharge from the ship
Seamen’s pouches, issued 1940-1972 but covering service 1913-1972
Merchant seamen who were discharged from the navy between 1940 and 1972 had their records filed in what became known as ‘seamen’s pouches’. Some of the seamen discharged during this period had been in service as far back as 1913 and the records reflect this. Use the box below to search our catalogue, by name in BT 372 and BT 391 to see if a seaman’s pouch survives. Not every pouch survives and many were destroyed before any were transferred to The National Archives.
Details provided may include:
- surname and initials
- place of birth
- date of birth
- ships a seaman served on
For more details see the series descriptions for BT 372 and BT 391.
In a third series, BT 390, you can browse references to seamen’s pouches for service in the Second World War. They are arranged in alphabetical ranges, though a few describe individual seamen. You can try a search with a specific name and learn something about what the records contains from the BT 390 series description.
Agreements and crew lists, 1861-1994
The National Archives holds the following proportions of agreements and crew lists after 1861:
- 1861-1938: 10%
- 1939-1950: 100%
- 1951-1994: 10%
Use the box below to search for these agreements and crew lists by ship’s official number in BT 99, BT 380, BT 381 and BT 100. For the more celebrated and famous ships you can also search by ship’s name. Discover a ship’s official number at the Crew List Index Project website (CLIP) or the Miramar Ship Index (£).
Not all agreements and crew lists are searchable on our catalogue by ship’s number. You may need to browse catalogue descriptions for records from 1951 onwards in BT 99 as the ships’ numbers are not itemised and are, instead, displayed in ranges.
For more information read Crew lists, agreements and log books of merchant ships after 1861.
Merchant Navy apprentices
Browse the indexes of apprentices registered in the merchant navy in BT 150. Please note the indexes for 1824-1910 are available online; indexes up to 1953 are on microfilm.
Surviving apprentices’ indentures are in BT 151, 1845-1962, and BT 152, indentures for fishing, 1895-1935. Please note only a sample of the indentures was preserved, a two-month sample for every five years except 1960-1962, for which years the sample covers the entire year.
Browse BT 151 and BT 152 by date in Discovery to find your microfilm number.
Merchant Navy gallantry awards for the Second World War, 1939-1947
Search our catalogue by name of person or ship in T 335 to find what the award was, the person’s rank at the time, and the ship they were serving on.
Narrow your search by using double quotation marks to find a ships’s or person’s full name, such as “Sydney Star” or “John Williams”.
You can find out more about what these records tell us in the T 335 series description