Who is in the index so far ?When first launched in December 2002 the index was of men who held certificates of competency or certificates of service issued from 1845 onwards. These include ship captains (often called master mariners), mates and marine engineers.
Subsequent update added additional men and maritime families found on census returns, monumental inscriptions, the National Probate Calendar and from numerous other sources.
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalger, the update in October 2005 added a new database of over 3300 Welshmen who were active in the Royal Navy around the time of Trafalgar, including over 600 who served during the battle. More about the Royal Naval entries.
What is a certificate of competency or service ?By an order of 1845, the Board of Trade authorised a system of voluntary examinations of competency for men intending to become masters or mates of foreign-going British merchant ships. The system was made compulsory in 1850 and extended to masters and mates of home trade vessels in 1854. A master's or mate's certificate of competency was issued to each man who passed the examination. Men who were considered to have sufficient experience as a master or mate were eligible, without formal examination, for certificates of service.
Details of the appointments held by each man for the period 1845 to 1888 are held at the Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. (Classes BT122,124 etc). After this time Lloyd's Captains Registers held at the Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, London, EC2P 2EJ will hold details of appointments for men who held certificates as Captains.
What information is included in this index?No attempt has been made to show all the appointments of each man. That would take a lifetime ! A man's significant association with a vessel is shown together with the last appointment shown in the service registers. The inclusion of such service information is an ongoing process. The index also shows the man's year and place of birth and year when he was awarded his certificates. [Additional information to help discriminate between men of the same name is included. Such information is found in these square brackets and will have come from my research or the research of others and not from official Board of Trade sources].
Who is not on the index ?The following groups of men are only poorly represented on the index at present. They will be included as the indexing progresses.
1. Men born after 1901.
2. Men who did not hold a certificate. Perhaps a quarter of men who sailed as Masters after 1845 never held any certificate. No Board of Trade service records cover these men who were mainly involved in the home trade (coast of Britain and near continent).
3. Men active at sea before 1845 and not afterwards.
4. Men born outside Wales who settled in Wales.
5. People described as boatswains, able seamen, ordinary seamen, mariners, radio operators, apprentices, boys, cabin boys, cooks, stewards, stewardesses, pantrymen, carpenters, shipwrights, skippers and hands of fishing trawlers, fishermen, coastguards, excise men, lighthouse keepers, whalers, firemen, trimmers, riggers, pilots, chandlers, shipkeepers, bargemen, ship owners or brokers, men or women who ran navigation schools, harbour masters, marines and men serving in the Royal Navy.
(I have no plans to systematically include people in shore based occupations or those serving in the Royal Navy).