British nationals born at sea 1854-1887
About the British nationals born at sea records
This search allows you to view the original records of the registers in which details of births on board ships were compiled. These records were completed by the captain of the ship, or another member of the crew.
These records are fully name indexed which makes finding your ancestors born at sea so much simpler. The old birth indexes were page-indexed rather than name-indexed, meaning that you had to check through pages of records and see if your ancestor was somewhere on the image.
When you search the fully indexed births at sea, your search results will be in the form of a list of individual names. This means you should be able to tell if your ancestor is in the list just by viewing their name although we always advise you to double check the original image, especially the volume and page numbers, to make sure you have found the right person.
Please note that many children born at sea were unnamed at registration. You should not assume that an unnamed child died in infancy. In the case of British residents, it is also possible that such children might have been re-registered, or baptised, in the home parish or (after 1837) registration district upon return.
When you view the original record you will see any given first names plus the names of the parents, sometimes including the mother's maiden name (although occasionally the parents are referred to only as 'Mr and Mrs Green'), the date of birth, and ship's details.
Find out more about these records in our knowledge base.
We only need the last name of an ancestor to start searching these records for you. This is the only required piece of information, everything else is optional.
It's always best to start searching with basic information, like your ancestor's first and last name. If there are too many results, you can refine your search and add more detail.
You can click the 'refine search' button on the search results page to return to this search box and add more information.
If you know the mother's maiden name
It's best to start with basic information, but if you know the maiden name of your ancestor's mother you could use this to narrow down your search results.
You can enter the maiden name in this box:
Findmypast.co.uk will show you records that list the maiden name you've entered, plus any matching records that have no maiden name recorded.
If the child's parents weren't married
Children born outside of marriage were often recorded with their mother's maiden name as a last name, even if they grew up using their father's last name.
You can search for both names at the same time by entering a mother's maiden name in the relevant box and ticking the 'search using maiden name as well as last name' option, as shown below:
Findmypast.co.uk will show you records matching either the last name or the maiden name you've entered.
What a birth record will tell you
These records will usually give you the following information, but please be aware that not all the fields are completed in all records:
- Child's name
- Date of birth
- Father's name and occupation
- Mother's name
- Ship's name
Can't find who you're looking for?
- Don't select a year range, or make the year range wider. The year you think your ancestor was born may not be accurate, so you could be excluding relevant results.
- Keep the 'include variants' boxes underneath the name fields ticked. This means your search results will include spelling variations of the names you've entered.
- If your ancestor's name could be easily misspelled, try using a wildcard search. Just use a * symbol in place of a letter or multiple letters. For example, instead of searching for Jennings you could search for Je*ngs or *enning*.