NOTE from DearMYRTLE: The following was just received from our friends at FindMyPast. Please address all inquiries to Debra Chatfield firstname.lastname@example.org.
* First time that 19th century merchant navy records are available online
* UK merchant seamen records from two centuries now searchable at findmypast.co.uk
Leading family history website www.findmypast.co.uk has today released online for the first time Merchant Seamen records from the 19th century in association with The National Archives of the United Kingdom.
359,000 records of individuals covering the years 1835-1857 have now been added to the website. Details contained within the records can vary, but can include name, age, place of birth, physical description, ship names and dates of voyages. Often this information can be given in the form of coded entries which can easily be deciphered using downloadable finding aids from The National Archives.
The records are taken from volumes held at The National Archives in series BT112, BT113, BT114, BT115, BT116 and BT120 and were created by central government to regulate the merchant shipping industry. As the series spans two decades, some individuals may appear in multiple series, making it possible for maritime historians or those with ancestors in the merchant navy, to trace a seaman's service over time.
Janet Dempsey, Maritime Expert at The National Archives commented:
"These records are as significant to the social historian as they are to the family historian. No other group of working class men and women had the freedom of movement and ability to see the world as these 19th century mariners.
"This was the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen's earliest attempts at keeping individuals records and resulted in four different registers over twenty two years. Although more of a challenge to work with than other family history sources, it can be very satisfying to decipher the codes and have your investigative efforts rewarded with sometimes surprisingly rich detail."
In 2011 findmypast.co.uk published Merchant Navy Seamen records from 1918-1941 in association with The National Archives, some of which include photographs.
Debra Chatfield, family historian at findmypast.co.uk added: "The Merchant Navy Seamen records will be of great interest to family historians worldwide, as so many of us have generations of ancestors, who made their living at sea. These records will add more detail to our mental picture of their lives."
All the Merchant Navy Seamen records at findmypast.co.uk can be searched for free from the Education & Work section of the website. Transcripts and images can be viewed either with PayAsYouGo credits or a Full Subscription.
Leading UK family history website findmypast.co.uk was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales available online in April 2003, winning the Queen's Award for Innovation.
Findmypast.co.uk has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 875 AD. This allows family historians to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military, census, migration, parish, work and education records, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records. The company runs the official 1911 census website for England & Wales in association with The National Archives and has digitised several other record sets from the national collection.
About The National Archives
For the record, for good... The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). As the official archive of the UK government and England and Wales, we look after and make available to the public a collection of historical records dating back over 1,000 years, including records as diverse as Domesday Book and MI5 files.
Our 21st-century role is to collect and secure the future of the record, both digital and physical, to preserve it for generations to come, and to make it as accessible as possible. We do this by devising technological solutions to ensure the long-term survival of public records and working to widen access to our collection. The National Archives also advises on information management across government, publishes all UK legislation, manages Crown copyright and supports the wider archive sector. We work to promote and improve access to public sector information and its re-use.
Follow the press office on Twitter @TNApressofficer and for general news @UkNatArchives.