Wednesday 12 September 2012

Find your Irish merchant seamen on Ancestry

Ancestry UK has added a new collection – Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927 – to its database. This is a collection of certificates issued to merchant seamen by the British Board of Trade, and there are plenty of Irish (including seven entries for my Wicklow and Cork ancestors) among the register of 250,000 individuals.

The certificates were issued to those seamen who qualified as masters or mates aboard merchant ships. The documents include certificates of competency, certificates of service, examination applications, and other miscellaneous forms. Collectively, they may include some or all of the following details:
  • name
  • certificate number
  • birth date
  • birthplace
  • issue port
  • issue date
  • address
  • examination date
  • history of service (dates, vessels, occupations, years in service)
Ancestry gives this advice for examining this record set: 'Some of the information is included on the back of the certificates, and some documents in a seaman’s folder have not been indexed, so when you find a record, use the arrows to browse surrounding documents to make sure you see all the records available. You may want to browse through an entire roll since the original folders were sometimes filed in random order.'

UPDATE: There's a video below, giving some further background to the collection.