Trinity House Calendars 1787 - 1854
About the Trinity House Calendars
These records are printed indexes to the Trinity House Papers, which are held by the Society of Genealogists and are a very rich source of genealogical information.
Covering the period 1787 to 1854, most of the papers are Petitions for aid, submitted by the seaman or, often, his widow. The Petitions contain a wealth of family information, about the seaman and his dependents. Other papers include Apprenticeship Indentures of seamen, and a collection of Miscellaneous Papers, consisting mainly of marriage and baptismal certificates. The papers cover families from all over the United Kingdom.
If you find an ancestor listed in the Trinity House Calendars, you can order copies of the original papers from the Society of Genealogists' online shop
What do the records look like?
Calendar of Petitions
About 8,000 petitions are calendared, by petitioner. This is usually the wife or widow, but is often the seaman himself. The year of the petition, the petitioner's age, in most cases the spouse's name, and the place they are living is shown.
Below is a sample image from the Calendar of Petitions - click on the image to enlarge it:
Calendar of Apprentice Indentures
186 Apprenticeship Indentures of seamen from the periods 1780 and 1818-1845 are calendared. Most of the indentures have endorsements as to their enrolment and the completion of the terms. Many are also endorsed with notes of money advanced and paid.
Below is a sample image from the Calendar of Apprentice Indentures - click on the image to enlarge it:
Calendar of Miscellaneous Papers
The 'Miscellaneous Almshouse and Pension Papers', which consist mainly of baptismal and marriage certificates, seem to have been removed from files relating to pension and almshouse applications made to Trinity House between about 1790 and 1890. The great majority relate to applications made in the period 1830-1880. In some cases the petitions and supporting documents have survived and are attached; in others it is clear that only a fraction of the formerly existing records has been retained. It is not known why this particular selection of the records has survived.
The dates of extraction of the certificates have been included as giving clues to the dates of the pension applications. About 400 sets of papers are calendared.
Below is a sample image from the Calendar of Miscellaneous Papers - click on the image to enlarge it:
How to order copies of the original documents
You can order copies of the original documents from the Society of Genealogists for £10, including postage.
Upon receipt of your payment, the Society of Genealogists will locate, copy and send you a copy of the record you are interested in within 14 days.
To order copies please download and print out an order form (PDF)
You can also order and pay for documents directly through the Society of Genealogists' online shop
About Trinity House
Trinity House was responsible for the supervision of lighthouses and buoys around the English coast, and also distributed charitable funds to disabled seamen and their families.
Before the passing of the Mercantile Marine Act of 1854, the Corporation had at its disposal for charitable purposes not only the revenue from their trust properties, but also the annual surplus from light dues. When necessary, the Corporation did not hesitate to augment its charities by large donations from its private or corporate income. The Corporation was thus able to relieve an enormous number of distressed mariners. In consequence of the abolition in 1854 of its right to administer the surplus money received from light dues, its charities were greatly curtailed.
Great care was always taken by Trinity House to see that its charitable funds were carefully disbursed and every mariner or his dependent applying for help was required to give full particulars of his or her circumstances. These forms of application were known as 'Petitions'.
The text published here concerning the Trinity House Paper and Calendars is an edited version of the introduction prepared by Anthony J. Camp for the printed version of the booklet on Trinity House Petitions published by the Society of Genealogists in 1987. The Calendar of Petitions was made by Mr A.D. D'Ews in 1987, subsequently corrected by Mrs I. Charlton, and retyped for publication by Mr Charles V. Porter. Anthony Camp generated the calendars of Apprentice Indentures and of the Miscellaneous Papers, and also compiled the composite index of surnames for the Society of Genealogists.
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