Crew lists and logs

This guide was last updated in 2009

From the information contained at TNA it is possible to get details of the ships a Master or Mate served on.

The Crew Lists and Agreements were essentially muster lists for each voyage. For the period 1747 to 1860, they are in record series BT 98; and for 1861 to 1994 they are in record series BT 99.

TNA holds only 10 per cent of those records that survive for the latter period, the vast majority being held by the Maritime History Archive in Newfoundland, Canada. It has a facility on its website to search its holdings by ships’ official number. The website can be found here.

A further 10 per cent of these records are held at various county records offices in the UK. TNA has produced a free guide to these holdings, which can be found here.

Finally, the records for the years 1861, 1862, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895 and 1905 are held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Should your ancestor have been lucky enough to serve on a celebrated or famous ship, you may find the records in series BT 100. These ships are searchable by name on TNA’s online catalogue.

For a very short period between 1845 and 1854, the RGSS started collating a list of Masters based on the information contained within the deposited Crew Lists and Agreements. This Alphabetical Register of Masters is now at TNA under the reference BT 115 and may well be a good place to start if your ancestor was at sea during this very short period of time.

If there was a birth or death onboard during a voyage, the log for the ship may have been kept. Again, these records are at TNA in the record series BT 165. These are handwritten accounts of the voyage by the Master or First Mate, so may well have been written by your ancestor!

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