Painting of ship, an advertisement for White Star Line (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/66)

This is a brief guide to researching records of merchant seamenseafarers on merchant vessels - ships that transport cargo or passengers serving between 1858 and 1917. It is very difficult to find information about a particular merchant seaman between those dates. This is because registration of seamen stopped between 1857 and 1913, and the entries for 1913 to 1917 have not survived. If you know the name of the ship you might be able to find the person on a crew listlist of crew members filed by ship's master with the Registrar General of Shipping.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the name of the ship on which the seaman served
      • the port where it was registered
      • the ship's official number (obtainable from the Crew List Index Project)