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You are here:home > Leisure > Arts and Heritage > Family and Local History > Maritime history > Crew lists

Crew lists


Crew Lists - What are they?
From 1835 onwards, masters of British registered ships had to keep records of their crew. The resulting documents are called 'Agreements and Crew Lists'.

If you know which ship your ancestor was on, then it is easy to find the records. We have a published list of crew lists held in the Archives. This list is also available on the Access to Archives web site.

Crew Lists

1. How to find a crew member

Finding a seafarer can be difficult if you don't know which vessel they served on. Crew lists don't have surname indexes but are arranged by date and vessel. One way to search is to work through all the crew lists for a year you know the seafarer was at sea. This is time consuming but sometimes rewarding.

We are part of a national Crew List Indexing Project (CLIP) ( The resulting CD Rom includes a small number of our crew lists for the year 1878.

2. What information do they include?

Agreements and crew lists have information on ships, on crew members and on individual voyages. They are a valuable source for anyone tracing the career of a merchant seaman ancestor. Crew members had to sign the lists (or make their mark with an 'X') on engagement and discharge: their age, rank, place of birth as well as details of their previous ship and wages are also included. For some ships we also have log books. These can include details of births and deaths on board the ship, illness, desertion and punishment of crew.

3. Which crew lists do we have?

Southampton Archives have crew lists covering 1863-1913. They include three categories of ships:

  • Ships registered in Southampton
  • Ships built in Southampton
  • Ships which regularly used the port

You can find crew lists in a variety of different places. The National Archives web site includes guidance on how to locate crew lists.

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