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Merchant Navy Seamen

The amount of information listed varies, but the Merchant Navy records usually include the following information about your ancestor:

  • Name
  • Age or date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Photograph of your ancestor
  • Physical description including height, hair colour, eye colour and tattoos
  • Your ancestor's signature
  • Name and address of next of kin
  • Rank or rating
  • Ship names or numbers and dates of voyages
  • Register ticket (a merchant seaman's ID)
  • Discharge number

    As well as providing information about your ancestor's career, it should be noted that the Merchant Navy Seamen records can also reveal what he or she looked like. Many of the records include a photograph or a physical description, bringing you face to face with your ancestor.
  • Discover more about the Merchant Navy Seamen records

    There are more than 2.6 million Merchant Navy Seamen records, which we are publishing in partnership with The National Archives. The Merchant Navy Seamen records comprise two main sections:

    * Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1857: records of individual seamen that the central government created to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy. Over 1.6 million records are available to view between these dates.

    * Merchant Navy Seamen 1918-1941: records of index cards that the Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman used between the two world wars to produce a centralised index to merchant seamen serving on British merchant navy vessels. There are 998,838 records available to search between these dates.