This useful list of references has been contributed by David Asprey (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is reproduced with his permission.
A very useful site is that of Len Barnett, which contains a wealth of information on the records available. Len notes that:
RNR Officers' service records for the period 1914 to c.1920 are now, at last, available for public scrutiny at the Public Records Office, Kew. These are to be found under class ADM 240. For those intending to use these records it is important to note that these documents cannot yet (July 2002) be ordered by computer: as the computer system has not been updated in relation to this. Instead, orders have to be made by hand at the production counter enquiry desk. Details are now in one paper catalogue. Officers' service is recorded by date of original commission and rank. (All arms of service are apparently lumped together, showing seamen, engineers and probably paymasters etc. in single volumes.) Half a page is allowed per officer. There are absolutely no details of anything other than wartime service. No dates or places of birth, no certificate numbers, no civilian service - nothing. officers' addresses on discharge are however noted. What is more, the handwriting of those compiling these records leaves a lot to be desired and of those I have so far studied I have been left puzzling over some entries.
Citations for First World War awards for naval officers can be found in the 'Honour Sheets' at the PRO, Kew. When first looking at these I was surprised to find even those dealing with 'Mentions in Dispatches' - having previously been assured by 'experts' that it was not possible to find out anything about MIDs!
There are errors in the PRO's on-line catalogue that the researcher needs to be aware of. In regards to some classes of Marine Department, Board of Trade records, such as 'Registers of Masters and Mates Certificates Passings and Renewal' 1917-1968, these are still in Cardiff as far as I am aware. However, these appear in the on-line catalogue. There are different errors in the crew-lists from the 1940s to 1950s though. Filed by ships' official number (since 1857) some of the piece numbers list these necessary official numbers. But, others do not and merely have meaningless statements like "ships' logs". This makes searching for relevant crew-lists of this era highly problematical. One in particular incorrectly maintains that registers of mercantile engineers' certificates were for R.N. officers.
The Royal Navy kept detailed records for officers and men, and more information may be found by clicking here. Samples may be seen, courtesy of Bart O'Brien (email@example.com), who has been kind enough to send scans of his father's service records in the RN, stretching from training in HMS Ganges in 1917 till 1945, and Ken Rigby, whose grandfather entered as a stoker before the Great War.
This useful list of references has been contributed by David Asprey (firstname.lastname@example.org), originally posted on the MARHST-L Maritime History list in October 1997. It is reproduced with his permission.
As noted in my summary the surviving 19th Century original port registration books are in various locations (only the London ones for 1786-1814 are at the Public Record office in BT 107). Suggest you contact the Registry of Shipping & Seamen, Anchor House, Cheviot Close, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff CF4 5JA [you need a big envelope for the address!] or fax +44 (0)1222 747877, for the location of particular ones - some are actually at RSS. I think that the more general question about Scottish registers might have to await the promised RSS listing.
But from 1815 (earlier ones were destroyed in a fire at the London Customs
House in 1814) most of the "Transcripts and Transactions " are available at
PRO. The Transcripts are effectively office copies of the Register Book
containing the same information and the Transactions record subsequent
changes, mostly in ownership. On the whole they are fairly easy to
BT 107 Transcripts 1815-1854 (index, back to 1786, in BT 111)(Transactions are recorded on the same document)
BT 108 Transcripts 1854-1889 (index in BT 111)
BT 109 Transactions 1854-1889 (references endorsed on the records in BT 108)
BT 110 Transcripts & Transactions 1889-1955 - filed by decade of closure of British Registry (and separately for UK and "Colonial" ports). These later documents are sometimes the hardest to use as discovering the year of final closure can be more difficult than the year of initial registration, especially for smaller vessels not included in Lloyd's Register - the official Mercantile Navy List has no index of former names nor (for most of this period) numerical listing by Official Numbers.
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