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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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 the Collection?

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.

Collection Contents

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 the Collection?

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

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.

Search the Collection

To search this collection by name:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

What Do I Do Next?

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.

What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?

Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

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.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing "Merchant Navy Seamen1835-1941." Database. findmypast .co.uk. www.findmypast.co.uk : Brightsolid, n.d. BT 112-116, 119-120. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941.

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