NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.







Notes Taken at Lecture given by

Dr Chris Watts – NZSG Tour – 19 June 2003


In general, where to find records depends on the following factors

*       Where ship was registered

*       Destination of ship

*       Depends less on the nationality of individual and port of departure

*       Different for Merchant and Royal Navy


Some Items Were Recorded by Ship Records/Log Books

Key dates are

*       From 1797 – Wages of deceased seamen, West Indies

*       From 1837 – Births to English and Welsh fathers

*       From 1851 – Death of crew members/wages

*       From 1854 – Marriages

(Births and Deaths not sent to GRO)

*       From 1855 – Births and Deaths all recorded


Primary Sources (always go back to these) for Merchant ships and Royal Navy

*       Official log book

*       Crew list

*       B & D form

*       Enquiries Deaths at Sea, 1939-46 and 1964

*       Passenger list

*       Surgeon’s journal

If you cannot locate the primary source, use secondary source.  You will need ship and year.


Merchant Shipping Log Books up to 1851 can be searched at FHS.  There is a table at the end of records and full records also.  The term ‘W & E’ is ‘Wages and Effects’.   Place of burial is listed also.


For Navy there is less information.  1669-1968 are at National Archives (UK).  Ship into port before had to file log.  Births, Deaths and Marriages had to be filed at next port. National Maritime Museum (England) – look for Births and Deaths from 1914-19, 1939-45, 1946-64.  Should find description of death.


Secondary Sources

*       Passenger Lists of those arriving into England 1878 onwards.  (BT26)

*       Registers and Indexes (at PRO) – the following are filmed at FHS;

BT158 1854-87 Passengers;

          BT160, 1875-90 British Nationals (separate Welsh, English etc)

*       Wages Registers – Deceased Seamen;

          ADM 80/6-12 (not indexed) West Indies;

          BT153-157, 1852-89 indexed;

          BT158-160 1854-90 at FHS

          BT334, 1891-1960 at PRO (indexed)

Some are indexed under cause of death

*       Royal Navy – No deaths at sea register.  There is

Dead Men’s Wages c1780–1809.

Death in Service 1802-1878

WWI Medical Department Register

WWI Card Index – lists casualties (next of kin on back)


Tertiary Sources – GRO

From 1837, might send log book (not returned) – records mostly Navy.  Index on Marine Registers fiche (NZSG Panmure Library, Auckland has this)  Ireland is at end of LDS film.


Search Strategy

1.                  Start with GRO indexes (incomplete)

2.                  RGSS and Admiralty records

3.                  When you have ship and year, get the rest i.e. log book, crew lists etc.




Marriages by the master of the ship were actually illegal.  These were recorded in

*       Log book (BT165 at PRO)

*       Registers (BT158/2-4 at PRO).

All are indexed.  There will be nothing recorded at GRO as not legal.


Royal Navy – Marriages were legalised –

*       records at GRO

*       at PRO – RG33/156 – indexed at LDS.

Marriages were often performed in places not often visited.  People would come on board for ceremony.  There were no women serving at sea.

(Jun 2003)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




Tip for care of headstones A good way to keep stones in good condition and prevent growth of lichen etc, is to gently apply a little car wax to the clean and dry headstone.  But be careful with any with gold lettering, this will easily come away from the surface, so avoid rubbing into this type of inscription.

(Aug 2003)   



Recording Provenance of Family Items As genealogists, we are careful to record and document our family history and stories etc, but have you thought about those precious items which have family and sentimental value.  It is good practice to record names and dates on photos, but what about jewellery, ornaments, furniture etc, even that ugly old vase of your great aunt, which you keep because you loved her and you would like it to remain in the family.  One way to document these items is to photograph them and list details (the provenance – hey, I've been watching Antiques Roadshow!) on the back.  Or you can write the info on a sticky label (don’t damage the item) and place it under the base. Or just keep an inventory where it will be found in the long, distant future when needed.  These items are a special part of our family history and are a wonderful link to the past.

(Aug 2003)  


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




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Last updated 7 Feb 2007