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Ship’s crew lists added to have recently added records for 270,000 British merchant-ship’s crew members for the period 1861-1913. These records are indexes to original crew-list documents, which hold the employment details of these men and women. Altogether they reference around 30,000 lists.

Original crew-list documents are not online, but if you find an ancestor listed, you can order the relevant document from the repositories that store them around the country and in Canada. Full details on how to locate the original crew-list documents are found on the crew lists search page.

About crew lists  

  • A crew list holds the details of every crew member onboard a British merchant ship
  • The records detail the employment of each member of the crew. Individuals would ‘sign on’ when they began their employment, either at the start of the voyage, or when they joined the ship at one of its ports of call. They ‘signed off’ at the end of the voyage or, if they chose not to finish, at a port of call.
  • A ship that sailed in British coastal waters completed a crew list every six months
  • If a vessel sailed outside of British waters then a document called a crew agreement was completed for each voyage instead 
  • Crew members include a wide variety of professions, such as deckhands, engine staff, stewards, nurses and maids.

Please bear in mind that the online indexes represent only a fraction of the records available. Many have not yet been transcribed.

Find your seafaring ancestors on the crew lists now

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