Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tracing a Master Mariner 2

Trinity House Brig; National Maritime Museum, Greenwich*

From March to December 1848, George Caithness was master of the 191 ton brig Fortitude sailing to Rio. She is listed in Lloyd’s Register for that year:

By February 1848 he was master of Nizam, trading to Calcutta. Not long afterwards George submitted his claim for his Master’s Certificate, the latter being issued on 20 June 1851.

The Master's Certificate gives name, estimated age, birth date, birth place, issue date, issue port and certificate number: George Caithness, 34, 5 Jul 1817, Ealing Hants, 20 Jan 1851, Sunderland, 36461. His actual birth year was 1818 and he was born in Eling, Hampshire, not Ealing. [From All UK and Ireland Masters and Mates Certificates 1850-1927]  

Merchant Navy Captain

Merchant Seamen’s Records

The majority of records relating to merchant seamen are held at The National Archives, Kew. These include the First, Second and Third Registers of Merchant Seamen's service, 1835–1856.

At findmypast search 1.6 million records of Merchant Navy Seamen 1835-1857. From 1835, the central government began to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy, resulting in the creation of thousands of records that identify individual seamen. The main series are the ships' agreements and crew lists, from which the registers of service were created. These are volumes from The National Archives' record series BT112, BT113, BT114, BT115, BT116, BT119 and BT120.

* This unsigned ship portrait probably dates to the 1830s or early 1840s at latest. The rig is rather unusual, since while essentially that of a brig it includes a gaff to the foremast rather than a fore-staysail.

Tom Sheldon

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