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Merchant Navy - Trinity House Petitions

Nature of Source

The ancient Corporation of Trinity House was responsible for the supervision of lighthouses and buoys around the England coast. It also distributed charitable funds to Merchant seamen and their families. The records relate to petitions for aid submitted by poor disabled seamen or their widows. Many petitions have been destroyed so the records are not complete.

Other similar sources include: Registers of almspeople and pensioners, 1729-1946 (indexed 1907-1939) and Registers of almspeople, 1845-1971 (indexed) held at Guildhall Library and applications for pensions to the 1st Duke of Wellington, Master of Trinity House, 1829-52 held at Southampton University Library.

See also
Merchant Navy - Apprenticeship Records
Merchant Navy - Certificates of Competency & Service
Merchant Navy - Crew Lists & Agreements
Merchant Navy - Death At Sea Indexes
Merchant Navy - Musters
Merchant Navy - Registers of Seamen/Service (Seamen)
Merchant Navy - Registered Ticket Records
Merchant Navy - Ship's Logs

Where Found

Society of Genealogists (Original petitions and indexes located in the Lower Library)
Guildhall Library (Petition indexes and Corporation of Trinity House records)
National Maritime Museum
Merseyside Maritime Museum
(Maritime Archives and Library: The library holds registers of merchant ships and records of the major shipping companies operating from Liverpool; records of the port of Liverpool, local trade associations, shipping companies, merchant houses, port services, charities and ship builders; plans, photographs and oral tapes. A series of detailed information sheets dealing with the maritime research are available at the web site)
Imperial War Museum (Collections include photos, art, souvenirs, ephemera, recordings and newspapers, journals and books)

Period Covered

1787 - 1854

Genealogical Value

Name of wife or widow, name of seaman. The year of the petition, the petitioner's age, spouse's name, and address (calendar of petitions). Name, address and age of petitioner. Name of seaman, position on board and name of vessels served on and year. Route of vessels served on. Year and age seaman began service. Nature of seaman’s injury or cause of death. Names and ages of dependants, and baptismal and marriage certificates.

Further References

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The National Archives, 2006


Fenton, Roy & Briody, Nuala & Macdonald, Mike. Maritime Information, A guide to libraries and sources of information in the United Kingdom: MIA, 2004


Hailey, John. Maritime Sources in the Library of the Society of Genealogists: Society of Genealogists, 1997


Spencer, William. Family History in the Wars: The National Archives, 2007


Smyth, W. H. The Sailor's Wordbook: The Classic Source for Over 14,000 Nautical and Naval Terms: Conway Maritime Press, 2005


Tracing Your Family History: Merchant Seamen: Imperial War Museum, 2006

 

Tracing Your Family History: Merchant Navy, Imperial War Museum, 2006

 

Watts, Christopher & Watts, Michael & Smith, Kelvin. Records of Merchant Shipping & Seamen, PRO Publications, 1998

 

Watts, Christopher & Watts, Michael. My Ancestor Was a Merchant Seaman: Society of Genealogists, 2011

 

Watts, Christopher & Watts, Michael. Tracing Births, Deaths and Marriages at Sea: Society of Genealogists, 2004

 

Wills, Simon. Tracing Your Merchant Navy Ancestors: Pen & Sword Books, 2012

 

Wills, Simon. Tracing Your Seafaring Ancestors: A Guide to Maritime Photographs for Family Historians: Pen and Sword Books, 2016

Woodman, Richard. The Merchant Navy: Shire Publications, 2013

 

 

TNA Research Guides

Websites

www.trinityhouse.co.uk/about-us/history-of-trinity-house (Corporation of Trinity House: History of Trinity House including a genealogy guide to the corporation records)
www.history.ac.uk/gh/thouse2.htm (Guildhall Library Leaflet Guide to Corporation of Trinity House Records, Lighthouse Keepers and other Employees)
www.history.ac.uk/gh/thouse.htm (Guildhall Library Leaflet Guide to Corporation of Trinity House Records)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/merchant-ships (TNA Research Guide: How to look for records of Merchant ships)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/merchant-seaman-serving-1858-1917 (TNA Research Guide: How to look for records of Merchant seamen serving 1858-1917)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/merchant-seaman-serving-after-1917 (TNA Research Guide: Merchant seamen serving after 1917)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/merchant-seaman-serving-up-to-1857 (TNA Research Guide: Merchant seamen serving up to 1857)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/officers-merchant-navy (TNA Research Guide: Officers in the Merchant Navy)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/registration-merchant-ships (TNA Research Guide: Registration of merchant ships
www.iwm.org.uk/research/tracing-your-family-history/tracing-your-merchant-navy-family-history (Imperial War Museum: Merchant Navy Family History: Guides include: Where to find Merchant Navy Records; Casualty Records; Medal Records; Other sources)
https://museum.wales/curatorial/industry/resources/maritime-history (National Museum Wales: Researching Welsh maritime history)
www.rmg.co.uk/discover/researchers/research-guides (National Maritime Museum Research Guides: Tracing family history from maritime records; The Merchant Navy: World War Two; The Merchant Navy: Tracing merchant seamen; he Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Crew lists, agreements and official logs; The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master-mariners, mates and engineers; The Merchant Navy: Sources for enquiries; The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories; The Merchant Navy: First World War)
http://lrfoundation.org.uk/public_education/research_resources/information-sheets (Lloyd’s Register Foundation: Information sheets: Guides include: Registry of Shipping and Seamen; Useful sources for genealogists; Sources available to historical researchers; Collections of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships and associated publications in UK and Ireland)
http://lrfoundation.org.uk/public_education/reference-library/register-of-ships-online (Lloyd’s Register Foundation: Lloyd’s Register of Ships online: How to access the historical Lloyd's Register of Ships. Links to volumes of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships which are fully accessible and searchable online. Resources include the 1764 Register Book)
www.mun.ca/mha/research/principalrecords.php (Maritime History Archive. List of the principal records of British shipping and seamen, showing their present locations)
www.mariners-l.co.uk/UKMerchantNavyIndex.html (Researching the mariners and ships of the Merchant Marine)
www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/archive/listGuides.aspx (Merseyside Maritime Museum: Tracing Seafaring Ancestors in the Merchant Navy)
www.merchant-navy.net/forum/forum.php (Forum Thread: Complete Guide to Researching Merchant Navy Records)
http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazfd/gazfd50.htm (GlobalGenealogy: Maritime Records & Resources by Fawne Stratford-Devai)
www.crewlist.org.uk (Crew List Index Project: Volunteer project transcribing records held at County Record Offices. Site includes guides to finding and using crew lists. The index is available online at www.findmypast.co.uk)
www.angelfire.com/de/BobSanders (Tracing British Seamen & their ships)
www.angelfire.com/de/BobSanders/CREW.html (Tracing British Crew Lists & Agreements)
www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/archive/pdf/Naval%20History-Tracing%20Seafaring%20Ancestors%20in%20the%20Merchant%20Navy%20no43.pdf (National Museums Liverpool: Tracing Seafaring Ancestors in The Merchant Navy)
www.history.ac.uk/gh/capreg.htm (Guildhall Library. Leaflet Guide, Lloyd's Captains Registers at Guildhall Library and related sources)
www.poheritage.com (P&O Heritage: The site highlights the history and the collections and archives of the P&O shipping line as well as the companies acquired by the group over the years. The site hosts a number of Family History Research Guides and an online database of nearly 2,500 P&O ships)
www.parishchest.com (Online store selling Merchant Navy records from a variety of suppliers)

Online Databases

www.findmypast.co.uk (British Mariners, Trinity House Calendars, 1787-1854 produced in association with the Society of Genealogists. These records contain the details of British Mariners who petitioned for aid from the Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond. The Society has partnered with findmypast.co.uk to publish online record sets from its unique collection. For more information on the available records see here. Members of the Society will be able to view these records for free at SoG Data Online via their existing membership)
www.sog.org.uk/search-records
(SoG Data Online: Trinity House Petitions, Apprenticeship Indentures and Miscellaneous Papers. Members of the Society of Genealogists are able to view these records for free via their existing membership. Non-members can carry out free surname searches but will need to join the society to view the full record details)
TNA Online Collections (Medals issued to Merchant Seamen, Second World War extracted from BT 395. TNA Online Collections is produced by The National Archives and contains online access to indexes, transcriptions and digital images of some of the TNA's most important holdings. Searches are free but a fee is levied for each downloaded item. However downloads are free if used at TNA or the Society of Genealogists)
www.history.ac.uk/gh/capintro.htm (Indexes to Lloyd's Captains Registers)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Crew List Index Project 1861-1913: Indexes to around 33,500 lists of crew members on board vessels and around 413,500 records of individual crewmen. The lists are indexes to original documents held in various repositories in the UK as well as in Canada)
www.findmypast.co.uk (Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1941: The records comprise two main sections: Firstly, Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1857 which consists of records of individual seamen that the central government created to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy and secondly, Merchant Navy Seamen 1918-1941 which consist of 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. The datasets consists of registers from Series I, Series II, Series III but not Series IV which will remain unpublished)
www.welshmariners.org.uk (Welsh Mariners: Online index of 23,500 Welsh merchant masters, mates and engineers covering 1800-1945, compiled by Dr. Reg Davies. The sister site at www.irishmariners.ie has records of Irish merchant seamen)
www.angelfire.com/de/BobSanders/CREWIN.html (Cardiff Crew Agreements, transcribed records of master mariners named in the crew agreements)
http://weblog.rmg.co.uk/memorials (National Maritime Museum: Maritime Memorials: The database contains records of over 5000 church, cemetery and public memorials to seafarers and victims of maritime disasters)
www.dgcommunity.net/historicalindexes (The Shipping Registers for Dumfries 1824-1904, Kirkcudbright 1824-1841, Stranraer 1824-1908 and Wigtown 1836-1908)

CD Roms

Family History Indexes (Seamen's Crewlists, 1851 extracted from BT 98)
S & N Genealogy Supplies (Crew Lists and Agreements 1863-1913)
The Maritime History Archive (Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada. Searchable CD containing data on the vessels, captains and crews of Great Britain and Atlantic Canada, 1787-1936)
London Cornish Association (Cornish Masters & Mates Project. Cornish-born Merchant Navy Officers extracted from TNA BT 127)