Monday 6 July 2015

Volunteers transcribe 1915 Merchant Navy Crew Lists
A second entry (click image to view), for his next
voyage, provides the name of the home townland.
A brand new website launched last week that will be of interest to those whose ancestors were sailors and worked in the Merchant Navy.

The site – – holds indexed transcriptions of crew lists and agreements from the British Merchant Navy for 1915, the year after WW1 had started. It's free to access, holds details of several thousand men born in Ireland, and has been placed online with the co-operation of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The transription and indexing work was carried out by volunteers.

Crew Lists were written up by the ship's masters at the end of each trip. Only the voyages that ended in 1915 are included in this collection.

For sailors on voyages involving 'home' trade ie ships that were engaged in short crossings from one part of the British Isles to another, such as from England to Ireland, there may be several entries in a result list, each showing a different voyage completed.

This can be very handy, as I've just discovered. I was searching for a Michael Santry born near Clonakilty in 1895. The first result shows an M Santry, a Marconi Operator of the right age, born in County Cork (hmmm, nearly all Santrys come from County Cork!), sailing on a ship called Tonawanda from 10 December 1914 to 2 February 1915. This could be him. But a second crew list – same ship, same job title, includes the ever useful home townland: Castlefreke. From this I can identify exactly the branch of my extended tree to which he belongs. His parents were Michael Santry and Mary Driscoll, and I know already that he survived the war.

Researchers with maritime connections will also find useful info in the FAQs, including this brief resume of where to find more crew lists: "Not all crew lists have survived. A 10% sample of all Merchant Navy crew lists is kept at the National Archives (TNA) in Kew. The remaining 90% of crew Lists from 1861, 1862, 1865 and all later years ending with a five (1875, 1885, 1895 and so on up to 1995) are at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. From 1863 onwards, 90% of all other years are kept at the Maritime History Archive in Newfoundland. Crew lists from the Second World War 1939-45 and from before 1861 (where they have survived) are at the National Archives."

(Thanks for Liverpool Col for letting me know about this new site.)