ANW logo

Archives Network Wales

Search the collections:        Search help | Advanced search   | Browse by repository

Browse the indices: Combined(searchable) Personal names Corporate names Places Subjects



[New to Archives?]

[Family history]

[Admin menu]

List of repositories  |  List of collections at National Library of Wales  |  Repository home page  |  Contact details

National Library of Wales
Aberystwyth shipping records

Reference code(s): GB 0210 ABERSHIP

Held at: National Library of Wales

Title: Aberystwyth Shipping Records

Short Title: Aberystwyth shipping records

Creation date(s): 1856, 1862-1914

Level of description: Fonds.

Extent: 5.434 cubic metres (304 boxes)

Name of creator(s): Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.


Administrative/Biographical history: The Merchant Shipping Act 1835 required all British registered ships of 80 tons or more employed in the coastal trade or fisheries to carry crew agreements and accounts, often referred to as crew lists. At the end of each voyage, the master sent these crew lists to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen through Mercantile Marine Offices situated at major and minor ports. Home trade crew lists (i.e. ships sailing in British coastal waters defined as the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and the continent of Europe from the River Elbe in Germany to Brest in France) were required to be delivered half-yearly. For voyages outside British coastal waters, there would be one list per voyage, also to be deposited with the appropriate Mercantile Marine Office. Crew lists (referred to in the catalogue as agreements and accounts) contain the full names of the crew including apprentices, age and place of birth, previous vessel, dates of joining and leaving, in what capacity employed, together with a list of voyages with dates, and occasionally details of cargoes carried. All masters were also obliged to keep an official logbook. These should not be confused with navigational logbooks or daily journals since they recorded accidents, illness, birth or death on board, misconduct, desertion, punishment and other entries concerning the conduct of crew members. Where a vessel sailed mostly in British waters, but made the occasional voyage abroad, there may be both lists and agreements for the same period, as well as logbooks. The crew lists (agreements) and logbooks were endorsed by the British consul at each port of call, and any changes of crew, desertions or disciplinary matters, were recorded. -- From 1855, British ships, for the first time, were given a unique official number when they were first registered at a designated Port of Registry. This number stayed with the ship throughout its life, even if the vessel was re-registered or the ship's name was changed. Such numbers were issued at Aberystwyth as the port responsible for the registration of vessels in the Cardigan Bay area from north of Newport in Pembrokeshire to the southern part of Merionethshire.


Scope and content/abstract: Crew accounts and agreements (generally known as crew lists) and logbooks, together with associated papers and correspondence, 1856-1914, for vessels registered at the port of Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire.


Language/scripts of material: English.

System of arrangement: The records received by the National Library of Wales from the Public Record Office were arranged chronologically, then numerically by the official number of the vessel for each year. From the outset, this arrangement was found to be unsatisfactory, particularly from the viewpoint of users seeking records relating to a specific vessel over many years. The decision was therefore taken to bring all records relating to a specific vessel together, both physically and in an electronic catalogue, by rearranging the collection alphabetically by vessel into five hundred and forty-four series. Records associated with each vessel have been arranged chronologically within each series. The unique official number given to each vessel when first registered appears in brackets after the name of the ship, which is provided as the title of each series.

Conditions governing access: Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to abide by the conditions noted on the 'Modern papers - data protection' form issued with their Readers' Tickets.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual copyright laws apply.

Finding aids: The catalogue can be accessed online.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: All records deposited at the National Library of Wales have been retained.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history: In 1966, the Public Record Office (now The National Archives) took the decision to discard some of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen's agreements and account of crew and official logbooks for British Empire vessels from 1861 to 1913. In 1970 and 1971, the bulk of the records were transferred to the Maritime History Archive at the Memorial University of Newfoundland at St John's, Newfoundland, Canada. A random sample of 10% of the records for each year was extracted for preservation at the Public Record Office (now TNA BT 99), together with a selection of records relating to celebrated ships (now TNA BT 100). A further 10% sample, being the remaining records for 1861, 1862, 1865, and each successive year ending in five (1875, 1885, etc.) was taken by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. County record offices and other repositories in Great Britain and Ireland also took advantage of the opportunity to acquire records of particular interest to their geographical area.

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by the Public Record Office, London, in 1971.


Related material: Further records are held at the Ceredigion Archives at Aberystwyth; the Merioneth Record Office at Dolgellau; The National Archives, Kew (BT 107-111); the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London; and the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Canada.


Note: Title based on contents. The dates noted are those recorded as the start and end of the half year or voyage as opposed to the 'stamped as received' dates of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen used in the former arrangement.

Archivist's note: Description compiled by Wil Williams. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Lloyd's Register of Shipping; the Mercantile Navy List; and the CLIP (Crew List Index Project) website at

Rules or conventions: Description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: August 2010.

Harbours | Wales | Aberystwyth
Merchant mariners | Wales | Aberystwyth
Merchant ships | Wales | Aberystwyth
Ship registers | Wales | Aberystwyth
Ship's papers
Shipping | Wales | Aberystwyth
Ships | Registration and transfer | Wales | Aberystwyth

Personal names

Corporate names
Great Britain | General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen

Aberystwyth (Wales)
Cardiganshire (Wales)

List of repositories  |  List of collections at National Library of Wales  |  Repository home page  |  Contact details