United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.


Record Description

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.

Citation for this Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

British Isles, Merchant Marines, Register of Seamen Series I to III and Seamen Tickets, 1835-1857, database, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org); from Public Record Office, Kew. FHL microfilm, 392 reels. Family History Library, Salt Lake City.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

A full bibliographic record is available in the Family History Library 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

Record Content

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 to Use the Record

Begin your search by looking for your ancestor in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings and misinterpretations.

Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or ticket number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • 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.

When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct. If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, check for variant spellings of the surname or check for a different index.

Known Issues with This Collecton

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

National Archives

Detailed Finding Aid of Merchant Marine Records

Related Wiki Articles

Contributing to this Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

“Delaware Marriage Records,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed 4 March 2011), William Anderson and Elizabeth Baynard Henry, 1890; citing Delaware, State Marriage Records, no. 859, Delaware Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Dover.


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