Proof of Titanic letter-writer's fated trip found in findmypast.co.uk's passenger records

July 27, 2010

A letter from a first class passenger aboard the Titanic to his wife fetched a reported £55,000 at auction on Saturday 17th April at Devizes, Wiltshire, and we’ve found the author in findmypast.co.uk’s passenger lists.

The letter was written by an Adolphe Saalfeld, a 47-year old German manufacturer of perfumes living in London and was dated 10th April 1912, the first day of the ill-fated trip. He described in detail a near collision with another liner at Southampton, the lunches and dinner he enjoyed, and the comfort on board. According to the auctioneers, it is the most detailed first person account of life aboard the Titanic in existence.

Mr Saalfeld’s passenger records, along with all those who travelled on the Titanic, can only be found on findmypast.co.uk. Saalfeld’s passenger transcript states details of his port of departure at Southampton, and expected port of arrival, effectively verifying the letter. He did in fact arrive at his expected destination of New York, having boarded a lifeboat and been rescued when the ship hit the iceberg.

Here you can see the passenger list for the Titanic:

Titanic passenger list

Titanic passenger list

Debra Chatfield

Debra Chatfield

Debra Chatfield, findmypast.co.uk’s marketing manager, said: “When we heard about this amazing letter, we were keen to look up the original passenger record for Adolphe Saalfeld online at findmypast.co.uk. Passenger lists are so useful for finding out when people travelled and to where, for example when and where they emigrated or travelled on business.

There are so many details you can see in the records, from who travelled with the passenger, to exactly when they left, their year of birth and their occupation. In this case it proved an important historic document as it meant the letter was hugely likely to be the genuine article.”

Search findmypast.co.uk’s 1890-1960 passenger lists today.


Fred Perry

July 7, 2009

Fred_Perry

National hopes of a Brit winning Wimbledon were dashed for another year with Andy Murray’s exit in the semi-finals last Friday. But Murray, at age 22, hasn’t reached his peak, so dreams that he will one day win the title still burn bright. It’s been 73 years since the last Brit won the men’s singles, and in the absence of a British successor Fred Perry remains highly revered.

Frederick John Perry was born in Stockport, Cheshire on 18 May 1909. Here is his entry in the findmypast.com birth indexes:

Fred_Perry_birth

 

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Here is the Perry family on the 1911 census. The head of the household is Fred’s father, Samuel Perry.  He is listed as a ‘cotton spinner’, but would later become MP for Kettering, Northamptonshire. When the census was taken Fred Perry was a month shy of his second birthday (click image to enlarge):

fred_perry_1911_census_sm

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Table-tennis champion to tennis virtuoso

Fred Perry initially made his name as a table-tennis player. He won the 1929 table-tennis world championships and only took up competitive tennis when he reached 18. His transition from table tennis to tennis would prove easy. His exceptional speed and hand-to-eye coordination suited him perfectly to both sports. 

He won the tennis US Open in 1933, 1934 and 1936, the Australian Open in 1934, the French Open in 1935, and Wimbledon in 1933, 1934, and 1936. To this day he remains the last Brit to win any of the four tournaments.

American tours

In 1937, after a three-year spell as world number one, Perry turned professional and spent two years engaged in lengthy tours with the American Ellsworth Vines. Here is Perry en route to the USA, aboard the Queen Mary in June 1937 (click image to enlarge):

Fred_Perry_bt27_18_jun_1937_NY

 

Ellsworth Vines appears on the list for the same voyage:

Ellsworth Vines_bt27_18_jun_1937_NY_Queen_Mary

 

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That year they played 61 matches in America: Vines won 32, and Perry 29. Back in England the Brit evened the score by winning six out of nine matches, which left them tied at 35 wins each.

Perry died in Melbourne, Australia on 2 February 1995. Even today, some tennis historians rate him among the greatest players of all time.

Unravel your Australian ancestry

If you have ancestors who emigrated to Australia, you may be able to trace their movements and perhaps those of their descendents using findmypast.com’s new Australian records. These new records include burials, funeral notices and memorial inscriptions for Victoria, which now form part of the findmypast.com Parish Records Collection. There are also records for convict arrivals and names in Victoria Government Gazettes (1858-1900), which have been added to the Other records section.

Read more about the Australian records


Finding Alexander Fleming

March 16, 2009

Alexander Fleming

Sir Alexander Fleming, the nobel-prize winning scientist who discovered the antibacterial effects of penicillin, travelled extensively during his lifetime and crossed the Atlantic several times, with the journeys logged on the Passenger Lists.

Fleming was born in East Ayrshire, Scotland in 1881. This event, along with many other Scottish records can be found on our sister-site, ScotlandsPeople.

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Fleming spent the first four years of his career working in a shipping office, but after being left an inheritance by an uncle, he decided to follow the career path of his elder brother, Tom, a physician.

He studied at St Mary’s Medical School, London University from 1901. Fleming can be found on the 1901 census, living in Marylebone, London, as a medical student (click image to enlarge):

Fleming on the 1901 census

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After qualifying with distinction in 1906, Fleming joined the research department at St Mary’s as an assistant bacteriologist.  He served throughout the First World War as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps, working in battlefield hospitals on the Western Front.

Fleming was ‘mentioned in dispatches’ (a report that was issued in the London Gazette, which recorded noteworthy actions) for his conduct in the war. Many soldiers who served or died in the First World War can be found among the findmypast.com military records.

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During the war Fleming had repeatedly witnessed the deaths of soldiers from septicaemia that resulted from infected wounds, and he became convinced that antiseptics on deep wounds served to hinder a patient’s chances of recovery. When he resumed his post at St Mary’s he resolved to find a better alternative.

In spite of Fleming’s undoubted brilliance as a researcher he was also a somewhat careless and chaotic lab technician. It was his carelessness in leaving some cultures unattended whilst on holiday in 1928 that led to the discovery of the world’s first antibiotic, and revolutionised medicine.

Fleming gave many lectures on his work overseas, and can be found aboard the Aquitania in 1939, on a trip to the USA:

Fleming aboard the Aquitania in 1939

In recognition of his contribution to medicine, Fleming was knighted in 1944. The following year, alongside fellow pioneers Howard Florey and Ernst Chain, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the bactericidal effect of penicillin. Here is Fleming on the Passenger Lists four years later, bound for America aboard the Queen Elizabeth:

Fleming aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1949

Alexander Fleming died 53 years ago this month, on 11 March 1955, and his ashes were interred at St Paul’s Cathedral. His death is recorded in the findmypast.com death indexes.

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Here is Fleming’s final Passenger List voyage, aboard the Queen Mary, again bound for the USA, in 1950:

Fleming aboard the Queen Mary in 1950

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The Whitechapel Windmill

December 23, 2008

Judah Bergman, otherwise known as ‘Jack Kid Berg’, to this day is considered one of the finest boxers Great Britain has produced.

Berg was born to a poor Jewish family in Whitechapel, East London, on 28 June 1909. For a young man such as Berg, in the 1920s, professional boxing was one of the few viable routes to a better life.

‘The Whitechapel Windmill’ (as he became known), after entering his first professional fight aged 14, notched up a long string of victories. Despite initially having no formal training, his strength and raw aggression, combined with a natural aptitude for the sport, carried him through.

Setting sail for America

After beating the cream of Britain’s featherweights and lightweights, in March 1928 he set forth on a voyage to America. Here is Berg aboard the Mauretania, on his first USA trip:

Berg on the Passenger Lists in 1928

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The Englishman proved a big hit with American audiences, winning six out of seven of his first US fights. After briefly returning to England later that year, he set sail once again for the States, in March 1929. Here he is aboard the Berengaria:

Berg on the Passenger Lists in 1929

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World Champion at last

This time Berg stayed a while longer.  After an extended unbeaten run, defeating some of the best fighters of the day, he finally got his shot at the world light-welterweight title, held by the American, ‘Mushy’ Callaghan. Berg’s boyhood dream was realised on 18 February 1930, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, when he captured the title from Callaghan via a tenth round stoppage.

The victory made Berg a national hero. He successfully defended the title five times, before losing it to Tony Canzoneri, another American, 14 months later.

He never won it back, but continued to fight on both sides of the Atlantic with considerable success up until 1945. During a 20 year ring career he amassed a phenomenal record of 157 wins in 192 fights.

The last voyage

He appears a remarkable eight times on our Passenger Lists – on each occasion bound for America. Here he is on his last BT27 trip, aboard the Queen Elizabeth in September 1956:


The 1908 London Olympics

September 8, 2008

With Beijing 2008 finished and the countdown to London 2012 underway, we look back at the first time London hosted an Olympic Games, in 1908.

The White City Stadium (originally The Great Stadium) was built for the event. It housed a running track, a swimming and diving pool, plus platforms for wrestling and gymnastics.

In this, the fifth modern Olympic Games, there were just 24 sporting disciplines pertaining to 22 sports, and only 22 countries competing. Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales were entered as one team, the United Kingdom, but following protests from a number of Irish competitors and with fears of an Irish boycott, the team was renamed ‘Great Britain/Ireland’.

Rule, Britannia!

Showing its best ever Olympic form, the British team dominated the Games, finishing the overall winner with 56 gold, 51 silver, and 39 bronze medals – dwarfing the second place United States’ tally of 23 gold, 12 silver, and 12 bronze.   

Olympians on the findmypast.com Passenger Lists

Many 1908 Olympians can be found on the ancestorsonboard.com Passenger Lists leaving Britain after the Games.

Here is American George Mehnert, who won a gold in freestyle wrestling in the bantamweight class, aboard a ship aptly named the New York:

George Mehnert on the Passenger Lists

George Mehnert on the Passenger Lists

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Also aboard the New York is Mehnert’s teammate Sam Bellah. He competed in the pole vault, long jump, and triple jump, but failed to win a medal:

Sam Bellah on the Passenger Lists

Sam Bellah on the Passenger Lists

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Charles Edward Swain, an Australian 1500 metre runner, was part of the Australasia team, which comprised athletes from Australia and New Zealand. Here he is aboard the Orient, returning to Australia:

Charles Swain on the Passenger Lists

Charles Swain on the Passenger Lists

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Cary Grant

July 31, 2008

The Hollywood star familiar to millions as Cary Grant was born Archibald Alec Leach, in Bristol in 1904.

He appears three times in our exclusive Passenger Lists, bound in each instance for New York. We first find Grant in 1920, aged 16, aboard the Olympic. In his company are eight other actors; collectively they comprised the ‘Bob Pender stage troupe’ and were heading to the United States to perform their variety act – Grant himself was a stilt walker.

When the rest of the troupe returned to England, Grant elected to remain in the States to pursue a stage career. It proved to be a wise move.

Here is Grant (then Leach) with the rest of the ‘Bob Pender stage troupe’ – you might say, charting a course with destiny:

Grant on the Passenger Lists in 1920
Grant on the Passenger Lists in 1920

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By 1931 he’d swapped the stage for celluloid, having broken into Hollywood. Initially, he chose the stage name of Lockwood, after the surname of his character in Nikki, a recent play. But this bore similarities to another actor’s name and, on the insistence of his new employer, Paramount Pictures, he used Cary Grant instead. Two years previous to his big break, he appears in the Passenger Lists:

Grant on the Passenger Lists in 1929
Grant on the Passenger Lists in 1929

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Grant ascended the Hollywood ladder with remarkable rapidity. In 1932 he played the leading man opposite Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus, and the following year appeared opposite Mae West in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel, two of her most successful films.

In 1936 he signed to Columbia Pictures; that year he appears twice in the findmypast.com Passenger Lists. Grant was due to sail on the Majestic, on 31 January, but the line through his entry indicates he did not board:

Grant on the Majestic

Grant on the Majestic

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We find him five days later, however, aboard the Bremen, the clerk including his stage name, but mis-spelling ‘Cary’ as ‘Gary’:

Grant on the Bremen
Grant on the Bremen

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Grant next appeared in a string of hit comedies and, in the ensuing years, established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading lights – a position he sustained for several decades.

In later years he was the favoured star of the notoriously difficult auteur, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock described Grant as: ‘the only actor I ever loved in my whole life.’ Suspicion, Notorious, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest were all Hitchcock classics starring Grant.

Hitchcock appears numerous times in the Passenger Lists. Here he is in 1955:

Hitchcock on the Passenger Lists in 1955
Hitchcock on the Passenger Lists in 1955

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Grant died in 1986 with his wife – who, incidentally, was 47 years his junior – at his side. In 1999, the American Film Institute named him the second greatest male American cinema star of all time, just behind Humphrey Bogart.


Raymond Chandler

June 25, 2008

Among the most influential of crime fiction writers is Raymond Chandler. In just seven novels he established his protagonist Philip Marlowe as American fiction’s quintessential private detective. He was also behind some of the finest screenwriting Hollywood has seen. Screen adaptations like Double Indemnity bear testament to his innate ability to write for cinema.

Since the 1940s, so many crime and screenwriters have tried to mimic Chandler’s style that, outside his original stories, his characters have become rather clichéd. Within them, however, they have lost almost nothing.

Chandler’s prose is punctuated by a brilliantly clipped style, his ability to convey a time and place – namely 30s and 40s Los Angeles – and of course his sparkling witticisms:

‘Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.’ – Farewell, My Lovely, 1940.

Although an American citizen by birth, Chandler was classically educated at Dulwich College in London, a grounding that shaped him profoundly and made him a confirmed Anglophile for the rest of his days.

Here is Chandler, in 1957, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, on his way back to America following a stay in London:

Raymond Chandler on a passenger list

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He had suffered the death of his wife of 30 years – a blow from which he never fully recovered – 10 months previously, and was battling alcoholism. In a letter to Roger Machell, the Director of his English publishers, he wrote of the journey:

‘The voyage was hell. Still practicing to be a non-drinker (and it’s going to take a damn sight more practice than I have time for). I sat alone in the corner and refused to talk or to have anything to do with other passengers, which did not seem to cause them any grief.’

Upon his death in 1959, but only after a fierce legal battle with a former secretary of Chandler’s, his erstwhile fiancée, Helga Greene, inherited his entire estate.

Here she is aboard the Statendam in 1957:

Helga Greene on a passenger list from 1957

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Greene also appears within the Passenger Lists for 1938, as a 21-year-old student, bound for New York:

Helga Greene on a passenger list - 1938

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Oswald Mosley

May 7, 2008

Oswald Mosley must rank among the most controversial figures in 20th century British politics. His radical views forced him out of the Labour party in 1930 and soon after he formed his own political party, the New Party, whose policies mirrored his own extremist beliefs.

Heavily influenced by Mussolini’s National Fascist Party in Italy, in 1932, the New Party was subsumed by the British Union of Fascists (BUF). BUF members wore black uniforms earning them the nickname ‘The Blackshirts’. The BUF’s policies were ostensibly isolationist. Although the party was not officially anti-Semitic, many of its members were openly anti-Semitic.

In October 1936 Mosley and the BUF planned to march through the East End of London, then noted for its large Jewish population. Hearing of the march, anti-fascist groups erected barriers in an attempt to prevent it taking place. This resulted in a series of running battles between anti-fascists and police.

The Battle of Cable Street, as the event was later called, resulted in the passing of the 1936 Public Order Act, to control extremist political movements. The event is commemorated by a red plaque in nearby Dock Street.

During World War Two, like most active fascists in Britain, Mosley was interned. After the war he formed the Union Movement, whose policies, compared to the BUF, were more democratic, encompassing European unity, rather than total isolationism. Mosley died in 1980.

The man who ardently opposed mass immigration can be found within the findmypast.com passenger lists.

Here is Mosley, alongside his first wife Lady Cynthia Curzon, on board the Majestic, bound for New York in 1926:

Passenger Lists - Oswald and Cynthia Mosley

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Their marriage in 1920, attended by many branches of European Royalty, was, for many, the high society event of the year. During the marriage it is rumoured Mosley embarked on an affair with his wife’s younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and also the sisters’ stepmother, Grace Curzon.

Here is Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, onboard the Olympic, also heading for New York, in December 1928:

Passenger Lists - Alexandra Metcalfe

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In 1936, three years after Lady Curzon’s death, Mosley married Diana Guinness, née Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters.

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Ten Pound Poms

March 31, 2008

The phrase ‘Ten Pound Poms’ derived from the Britons who emigrated to Australia following World War Two on the Australian government’s assisted passage scheme.

The purpose of this scheme was to enlarge Australia’s population whilst supplying workers for the country’s growing economy and industry.

Britons were offered a way out of the rationing and deprivation of post-war life, shown visions of glorious sunshine and boundless possibility by a government desperate for an influx of labour.

They were offered the dramatically reduced fee for their passage only on the condition that they stay in Australia for a minimum of two years, or pay the full £120 fare back. This fee was prohibitively expensive for most.

The scale of the migration was such that some former troop ships were converted and dedicated to carrying Britons to their new home, such as the S S New Australia, formerly the Monarch of Bermuda.

As well as searching by name, it is possible to search the Passenger Lists by ship

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Search the Passenger Lists by ship name

One of the most high-profile participants in the scheme was Albert Grassby, who emigrated in 1960 and went on to serve as Australian Minister for Immigration.

Grassby can be found in the new decade of the now completed Passenger Lists;

Passenger Lists - Albert Grassby

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One family that took advantage of the scheme was the Gibb family, from Didsbury, Manchester. The brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin would go on to find fame as The Bee Gees.

Passenger Lists - Gibb family

Another notable emigrant to Australia in the new decade was Carol Jones, formerly of Glamorgan in Wales. She married Ron Minogue and in 1968 gave birth to a daughter, Kylie, who would go on to become one of modern Australia’s most successful entertainers.

Passenger Lists - Jones family

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Carol Jones and her family can be found in the last decade of the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.

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Explorers and Deception (Island)

March 27, 2008

Whilst looking at the last decade of the Passenger Lists we came across an expedition to an exotic sounding location: Deception Island.

Located in the South Shetland Islands the Island was historically used by seal hunters and whaling companies. In more recent times it was the focus of scientific research and, in 1955/56, was the subject of an aerial photography expedition.

The party of intrepid explorers can be found setting out to Deception Island in the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com:

Passenger Lists - Deception Island

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This list is a good example of the level of detail included in many 1950s passenger lists, which often include both exact date of birth and full address.

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Among other famous explorers in the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com, we found Ernest Shackleton, famed for his expeditions to the Antarctic, including the Endurance Expedition in which he set out, unsuccessfully, to cross the Antarctic on foot.

Shackleton can be found in 1921, the year before his death, travelling in somewhat greater comfort aboard the Aquitania to New York.

Passenger Lists - Ernest Shackleton

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Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates died on Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed Terra Nova Expedition to reach the South Pole, famously issuing the last words “I am just going outside and may be some time”. Oates can be found in 1899, travelling to Barbados in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists - Captain Oates

Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition was beaten to the South Pole by a Norwegian party led by Roald Amundsen. Amundsen himself can be found within the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard, travelling to New York in 1927 aboard the Leviathan.

Passenger Lists - Roald Amundsen

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The RRS Discovery, the ship that Scott and Shackleton used for their first Antarctic Expedition, returned to the City of Dundee, where it had been constructed, in 1986. Now the centre-piece of Discovery Point, the ship is a popular tourist attraction and gives an insight into the age of exploration.

RRS Discovery

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RRS Discovery - Cabin

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RRS Discovery - Desk

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Passenger Lists statistics and graphs

March 25, 2008

Now that the Passenger Lists are a complete set we’ve been looking at trends and patterns in the long-distance movement of people by ship from the UK.

The overall number of passengers travelling for each 5-year period from 1890-1960 can be viewed below. Please note that the last bar is actually a six- rather than a five-year period (i.e. 1955-1960 inclusive).

Passenger Lists - total number of passengers travelling by decade

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The number of passengers travelling to the five most popular destinations, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, on the Passenger Lists can be seen here:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to the big 5 destinations

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Below is a graph showing the movement of passengers from the UK to the United States of America. It is worth noting that after WW1 and the Russian Revolution the USA looked to restrict immigration – the 1921 Quota Act restricted it to 3% of its foreign-born population of 1903 and the 1924 Quota Act to 2% of its 1890 population. This reduced its availablility as a destination for UK emigrants.

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to USA

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This graph is for passengers travelling to Canada:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to Canada

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Passengers travelling to Australia:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to Australia

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Passengers travelling to South Africa:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to South Africa

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Passengers travelling to New Zealand:

Passenger Lists - passengers travelling to New Zealand

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Passenger Lists now complete with launch of the final decade

March 18, 2008

Search for ancestors from 1890-1960

The last decade of the Passenger Lists has now been added, allowing you to search from 1890 all the way up to 1960, for ancestors leaving the UK. There are now more than 24 million passengers, across 164,000 exclusive passenger lists.

The 1950s – Elvis, Egypt and Emigration

The 1950s is often seen as a conservative period, in relation to the more radical 60s. Despite this it saw the birth of the teenager, with Rock ‘n’ Roll music emerging from America, the ‘Beat’ writers and the seeds of the Civil Rights movement. The intensifying Cold War between the USA and the USSR was played out in a race for Space: by the decade’s end Sputnik I had been launched.

Britain’s prestige was dealt a blow with the Suez Crisis, in 1956. Rationing was slowly ending, National Service was in place, wide-scale rebuilding after the devastations of World War Two were bearing fruit and thousands of ‘Ten Pound Poms’ took the opportunity to start afresh in Australia. Commercial sea travel was in its last days, with air travel becoming more affordable and prevalent from the 1960s on.

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Notable passengers on board in the 1950s

There are lots of famous faces and notable names in the final decade of the Passenger Lists. One of Hollywood’s greatest stars, Gregory Peck, can be seen aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1950:

Passenger Lists - Gregory Peck

Matt Busby, the manager of Manchester United for many years can be found travelling with his team in May 1950, where Manchester United undertook their first tour of the States. Busby, whose tragic ‘Busby Babes’ died in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, led the club to success in the European Cup in 1968.

Passenger Lists - Matt Busby

Other notable passengers in the 1950s include Max Factor, Gloria Swanson, Cecil Beaton, Jack Buchanan and Bill Haley.

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Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here

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Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95. You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

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Sailing suffragettes

February 28, 2008

March is Women’s History Month and to celebrate we have found some pioneering women in our Passenger Lists.

It was 90 years ago, with the Representation of the People Act 1918, that women over the age of 30 were enfranchised. Ten years after, in 1928, this was extended allowing representation on equal terms with men. One family played an enormous part in the movement to allow women the right to vote; establishing organisations, leading protests and involving themselves in direct action to heap pressure on the establishment in the name of women’s rights.

Richard and Emmeline Pankhurst (nee Goulden) set up the Women’s Franchise League in 1889, with the intention of gaining women the right to vote in local elections. Richard Pankhurst was a perennial campaigner for ‘struggling causes’. Following his death, in 1898, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the more radical Women’s Social and Political Union. This organisation, with the motto ‘deeds not words’ encouraged and perpetrated direct, and often violent, action to highlight their cause and their determination.

Pejoratively termed ‘suffragettes’ the movement chained themselves to railings, staged protests in Downing Street and one of their members, Emily Davison, threw herself under the King’s horse at the Derby, dying a few days later in hospital of the injuries that she sustained and becoming a martyr for the cause of women’s suffrage in the process.

Emmeline Pankhurst can be found on the exclusive Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard, 6 years after Emily Davison’s protest, travelling to New York.

Emmeline Pankhurst 1919

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The Pankhursts’ daughters Christabel and Sylvia joined their mother’s movement, undertaking protests and enduring arrests. Adela, Emmeline’s youngest daughter emigrated to Australia in 1914, becoming a founder member of the Communist Party of Australia.

She can be seen travelling to begin her new life Down Under in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists - Adela Pankhurst

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Sylvia and Christabel can also be found on the Passenger Lists, Christabel moved the USA in 1921 where she became an evangelist.

Passenger Lists - Christabel Pankhurst

Sylvia can be found in the latest decade, travelling to Bombay, India.

Passenger Lists - Sylvia Pankhurst

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Steamboat Walt

February 18, 2008

There are many famous names and figures amongst the Passenger Lists, from every conceivable walk of life. One man, who appears twice in the new 1940s Passenger Lists, was a giant of the film industry, whose surname is synonymous with both a hugely lucrative entertainment empire and a cartoon mouse.

Walter Elias Disney is listed first on 7 December 1946, aboard the Queen Elizabeth, sailing to New York. He is travelling with his wife, Lillian, as well as Perce and June Pearce.

Perce Pearce was a writer and producer, working with Disney on feature films such as Fantasia and Bambi. Both are stated as having 119 Wardour Street in Soho, the centre of the British Film business, as their last UK address.

Passenger Lists - Disneys and Pearces

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Disney also appears in 1949, once again sailing to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth. This time, as well as Lillian, his two daughters are travelling with him. He is listed as a ‘Film Producer’, and once more 119 Wardour Street is stated as his last UK address.

Passenger Lists - Disney family

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Arandora Star

February 13, 2008

On 2 July 1940 the Arandora Star was hit by a German torpedo and sunk off the coast of Donegal, Ireland. The ship was transporting 1,500 German and Italian men to interment camps in Canada. Over 800 people died in the sinking, a figure exacerbated by inadequate lifeboat provision.

The Arandora Star was built in 1927 and intially sailed under the name Arandora. The Arandora’s maiden voyage was on 22 June 1927 to Buenos Aires, and can be found in the exclusive Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com.

Passenger Lists - Arandora maiden voyage

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Rebuilt and renamed in 1929, the Arandora Star continued to sail as a luxury cruise ship. Records from it can be seen in our Passenger Lists, by searching under ship name.

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An example of the journies undertaken in peacetime by the Arandora Star can be seen below, from a cruise made in March 1939:

Passenger Lists - Arandora Star Cruise

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The captain of the fateful journey in July 1940 was Edgar Wallace Moulton. He can be seen sailing her in 1939, in the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard:

Passenger Lists - Edgar Wallace Moulton

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A Canadian destroyer, HMCS Laurent, arrived to attempt a rescue mission, but it proved largely fruitless. Some of the scant lifeboats on board had been damaged by the torpedo, whilst others were unusable. Those internees that survived the sinking were still deported, sent on other ships as soon as possible to Australia.


Jewish refugees

February 11, 2008

As the Nazi Party’s anti-Semitic agenda became clearer and more brutal, thousands of Jews fled Germany and its neighbouring countries. Following Kristallnacht in November 1938, the need to emigrate in order to avoid persecution became more urgent.

The 1940s Passenger Lists contain many Jewish individuals fleeing Europe for America and Australia. One example is a voyage made by the Brittanic on 3 May 1940 to New York. The ‘alien’ section of the Passenger List reveals a large number of Jewish passengers, many of them merchants. Most are from Germany and Austria.

Passenger Lists - Jewish refugees

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Some of the passengers are described as having their last UK address as the Council for German Jewry’s Kitchener Camp, in Richborough, Kent:

Passenger Lists - Kitchener Camp

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The Kitchener Camp provided accommodation for almost 15,000 Jewish men, despite it having been designed to house only a fifth of that number. The camp was disbanded in June 1940 as, following the evacuation of Dunkirk, German and Austrian nationals were viewed as ‘enemy aliens’ and were subject to internment.

8,000 of the ‘enemy aliens’ were deported to Australia and Canada as the threat of German invasion increased, to ensure that they couldn’t pose any threat to national security.


London Olympics 1948

February 6, 2008

London Olympic Poster

Image copyright IOC / Olympic Museum Collections

The events of World War Two meant that the 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled. London was awarded the 1948 Games but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Financially, Britain had been crippled by the conflict and rationing was still enforced, with bread rationing ending only on the day before the Games started.

No Olympic Village was constructed to accommodate the athletes, instead they were housed in schools and army barracks. Transport issues were also prevalent, not least due to petrol rationing. Even with these limitations the event began on 29 July 1948.

Athletes from 59 countries took part in the Games, many of whom travelled by freighter. Numerous athletes can be found travelling home after the events were over, on 14 August, in the new decade of our exclusive Passenger Lists.

Harold Sakata, a member of the American team, would go on to play ‘Oddjob’ in Goldfinger. He can be seen travelling with other members of the U.S. squad:

Passenger Lists Henry Sakata

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Shirley Strickland, who won more Olympic medals than any other Australian runner, can be found with other members of the Australian team:

Passenger Lists Shirley Strickland

1948 was the last time the New Zealand team was to travel to an Olympics by ship. Members can be seen returning in the Passenger Lists:

Passenger Lists New Zealand Team

Ceylon competed for the first time at the 1948 Games, and Duncan White brought back a silver medal for the 400m hurdles. He can be seen below:

Passenger Lists Duncan White

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War Brides

February 1, 2008

Thousands of British women found love during the Second World War. American and Canadian troops stationed in Britain during the War gained a reputation as being ‘overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here’.

British women married these servicemen in huge numbers, with approximately 100,000 wedding Americans and a further 45,000 marrying Canadians. Once the war was over and peace secured the women faced a new challenge.

These women, who often had young children, had to travel with their new husbands back to America or Canada to begin their married life, away from the unreal wartime existence that they had been enduring.

The relocation of thousands of British women was a cause of controversy, not least because they were seen by some as taking the valuable places of homesick servicemen on board ships.

The first ship used for transporting the so-called ‘war brides’ was the S.S. Argentina. 452 war brides made the journey to America aboard her, and can now be seen in the exclusive 1940s Passenger Lists live on ancestorsonboard.

In the Passenger Lists you can find an exceptional level of detail, including the U.K address of the women and the name and address of the American serviceman of whom they were a dependant. Below is an image from the S.S. Argentina List.

Passenger Lists - War Brides

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Conditions on board were deeply unpleasant, many of the women and children had caught a ‘camp fever’ during their stay at an assembly point before sailing. The arduous journey was only the beginning of the adventure for the new brides, and their children.

A long standing legal wrangle in Canada has recently been making headlines, as children of war brides seek to be recognised as Canadian citizens, a right denied them through a change of legislation.


New decade added to the Passenger Lists 1940 to 1949

January 31, 2008

Findmypast.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include 20 million names within 137,000 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1949.

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1940s – Horrors, Hitler and the aftermath

The first half of the 1940s was one of the darkest periods in history, with global war causing millions of casualties and the horrors of the Holocaust. Buoyed by the USA’s entry following the attack at Pearl Harbor, the Allies eventually secured victory in Europe. Victory in Japan came only after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Following Armistice the world looked once again to rebuild: the ‘Iron Curtain’ descended in the East leading to the beginnings of the Cold War. Thousands of women left their families and homes to start a new life in Canada, America and Australia with the soldiers they had met and married. ‘Home Children’ were sent away to Canada for a better life, with mixed results. Commercial travel increased, as did the possibility of travelling for business, to compete in sports and other events.

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Notable passengers on board in the 1940s

One man whose influence on the decade cannot be overestimated appears in the passenger lists, travelling to America in 1946. Winston Churchill M P, following defeat in the 1945 election as the nation looked toward the social reforms of Attlee’s Labour Party, can be seen with his wife, valet and maid on board the Queen Elizabeth:

Passenger Lists - Churchill

The American film star Spencer Tracy may be seen on the Queen Mary:

Passenger Lists - Spencer Tracy

Whilst the famous sculptor Henry Moore can be found travelling to New York:

Passenger Lists - Henry Moore

Other notable names include Walt Disney, Elia Kazan, Benjamin Britten and Joan Fontaine.

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Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here.

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Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95.
You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

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Titanic passenger lists free to view at findmypast.com

December 20, 2007

With the Christmas Day special edition of ‘Doctor Who’ set on board the RMS Titanic, findmypast.com is making the original handwritten RMS Titanic passenger lists FREE to view during the festive season so viewers can discover if their ancestors travelled on the same journey as the intrepid Doctor. The original passenger list will be available to view online for free from Friday 21 December until Sunday 6 January.

View the free Titanic passenger lists

You’ve seen Kylie Minogue play fictional waitress Astrid Peth on the Titanic in Doctor Who. But what about real-life stewardesses on board the ill-fated ship?

Violet Jessop was 24 years old when she set sail from Southampton on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, working as a stewardess on board. She had already survived a collision on board one of RMS Titanic’s sister ships, the RMS Olympic, when it collided with HMS Hawke in 1911. Miraculously she also survived the sinking of the Titanic, just a year later, escaping in lifeboat number 16, and was picked up by the Carpathia after 8 hours.

During World War One Violet served as a nurse on board the RMS Britannic – the other sister ship of the Titanic and the Olympic. She was on board the night it sunk in the Aegean in 1916 after it hit a German mine. The ship sunk quickly and Violet was sucked under the ship’s keel, which struck her on the head. Yet again she managed to escape.

See Violet Jessop in findmypast’s passenger lists for free

Despite surviving three tragedies at sea, Violet was undeterred. She went on to work as a stewardess on cruise ships. You can see her listed in the passenger lists at findmypast.com age 45 in 1933 on board the Pennland.

She died, on dry land, in 1971 at the age of 84.  Was Violet the inspiration behind Kylie Minogue’s Dr Who character, Astrid Peth?


Evelyn Waugh

November 19, 2007

Evelyn Waugh is primarily noted for his novels satirising the upper echelons of English Society, such as Vile Bodies, A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited. He was, however, also an avid traveller and writer of travel literature.

Waugh can be found twice in the current Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com; once travelling to Tangier in 1933 and once to New York in 1938.

Here he is travelling to Morocco, listed as living at Brook St in London’s Mayfair.

Passenger Lists Waugh Tangier

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Here is Waugh, and his second wife Laura, travelling to New York in 1938. His brief marriage to his namesake Evelyn having ended in divorce in 1930.

Passenger Lists Waugh New York

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Search the passenger lists for your ancestors, or to find other famous names, now.

Among Waugh’s travel writing is 92 Days, detailing the time he spent in British Guyana and Brazil, a trip which inspired some of the novel A Handful of Dust.

Waugh also wrote about many other African, European and Near-Eastern places, including Abyssinia, Malta, Cairo and Constantinople.


One of the last two surviving Titanic passengers dies

November 12, 2007

Mrs Barbara Joyce Dainton (nee West) died on 16 October 2007 and was buried last week, in Truro, England.

Mrs Dainton was a passenger on the Titanic‘s ill-fated maiden voyage, along with her parents Edwy Arthur West, Ada Mary West and her elder sister Constance. She was 10 months old at the time of the sailing.

She can be seen with her family in the passenger lists

Titanic Barbara West

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Throughout her life Mrs Dainton shied away from all Titanic related press and publicity.

The last living survivor of the Titanic is Elizabeth Gladys ‘Millvina’ Dean.


Domestics in the Passenger Lists

October 23, 2007

The Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com allow you exclusive access to records which help to fill in the blanks in your family tree, to trace ancestors emigrating to start a new life and moving around for work.

Just as importantly, the Passenger Lists can also provide a fascinating insight into the way that your ancestors lived their day to day lives.

One trend, particularly in the Passenger Lists from 1890 – 1910 is the presence of domestic servants, valets and maids travelling with individuals or families.

These domestics were often noted down simply as, for example, ‘Mrs Cooper’s servant’ or tagged on to the end of a list of the family e.g. ‘and maid’.

Passenger Lists - servants

Passenger Lists - Rawson servant

Passenger Lists - valet

The anonymity of the servant classes did have some benefits however.

Whilst their being noted on the Passenger Lists as simply someone’s valet or manservant doesn’t help their descendants looking for their records, they were often able to travel first class, a luxury they would never have been afforded on their own steam.

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Roger Casement – Reports and Republicanism

October 12, 2007

Sir Roger Casement was a British diplomat, lauded for his influential reports on human rights violations in Congo and Peru. So groundbreaking and revelatory was his work in exposing the ill-treatment of natives in these countries, he was knighted in 1911.

The Casement Report of 1904 led to the removal of King Leopold II of Belgium from his position of corrupt primacy in Congo.

Casement can be seen in the Passenger Lists travelling to Africa:

 Passenger List - Roger Casement

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His name has become synonymous not with his diplomatic work, however, but with the events of 1916.

Dublin-born Casement, partly as a result of a growing abhorrence of imperialism caused by his experiences in Congo and Peru, developed fervent republican sympathies. In 1916 he visited Germany in order to acquire arms and men to fight against British influence in Ireland.

Casement can be seen travelling to America in 1911, his ‘Sir’ appendage now in place:

 Passenger List - Sir Roger Casement

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The trip to Germany was not a great success, he was promised far fewer arms than he had hoped, and gained little in the way of reinforcements for the nationalist cause. The arms were intercepted en route to Ireland.

On his return to Ireland, Casement was arrested, three days before the Easter Rising occurred. He was stripped of his knighthood and tried for treason, sabotage and espionage against the Crown.

Casement was ‘hanged by a comma’, British treason law was seemingly powerless to convict him on the basis that he had been on foreign soil when he negotiated with the Germans. Nonetheless a suitable application of the law was found and, coupled with the outcry surrounding his infamous ‘Black Diaries’ he was sentenced to death.

Roger Casement was executed at Pentonville Prison in London on 3 August 1916.

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 His death record can be viewed on findmypast.com

 Death record - Roger Casement

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Checking in with your American Ancestors

October 9, 2007

A feature of the Passenger Lists, from the 1920s on, is the inclusion of a last known address in the UK next to the passenger’s name.

This is of enormous use and interest for family historians – seeing where an ancestor was living before they emigrated or, indeed, went on holiday. It is also an easy way of being sure that the passenger on board is the person that you were searching for.

The inclusion of an address is not only of interest to those searching for passengers who were permanent residents in the UK, however. Viewing the latest decades of the Passenger Lists has revealed a trend, particularly amongst the ‘Aliens’ section of larger cruise ships going to the USA.

A great number of American passengers list London hotels as their last residence in the UK, affording you a fascinating insight into the style in which they lived and, perhaps more specifically, vacationed.

Passenger Lists - last known address
 

With this information in hand you might be tempted to undertake a family history tour of sorts, to retrace your ancestors’ footsteps and check into the hotel at which they stayed many years ago.

Hopefully your ancestors chose somewhere comfortable!

Search the Passenger Lists now for your ancestors


Prince Aly Khan – divorce and diplomacy

October 5, 2007

Prince Ali Solomone Khan, known popularly as Prince Aly Khan, was the son of Aga Khan III and is perhaps best known for his association with the sport of horse-racing and his playboy lifestyle.

Khan’s first wife was Joan Guinness, nee Yarde-Buller, whom he married in May 1936, just days after her divorce from Loel Guinness. 

Khan and Guinness’ relationship had begun during her first marriage, with the pair reportedly having ‘occupied a hotel room together from 17 May until 20 May 1935’. Khan was named in the proceedings of the divorce.

A list of divorce and matrimonial causes for 1858-1903 can be searched on findmypast.com. 

The pair can be found travelling together aboard the Colombia in the new decade of the Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com, prior to Guinness’ divorce. Click on the image to enlarge.

Aly Khan Joan Guiness

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Khan and Guinness divorced in 1949, with Khan going on to marry the Hollywood actress Rita Hayworth in the same year.

The early hedonism of Aly Khan’s life meant that his appointment, in 1957, as the permanent spokesman for Pakistan to the United Nations came as a great surprise to many. Equally surprising was the aptitude for the role that he displayed.

Khan was elected to the post of vice president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1958. Tragically, only two years later, he died following a car accident.


Passenger lists to Argentina

September 28, 2007

Contrary to the impression sometimes given, Britain’s relationship with Argentina is as complex and multi-faceted as that with any other country. Military conflicts in 1806/07 and, more importantly for the modern memory, in 1982, and a football match in 1986, colour the picture but, when the bigger view is taken, it is clear that mutual enmity has not been the predominant emotion.

Britain was quick to recognise the newly independent Argentina in 1825. It did so because it recognised its own interests, both the opportunities for trade and the strategic need to pre-empt the United States in South America. British capital and goods flooded in and British communities developed, for instance in Buenos Aires (which was already 3,000-strong in the 1820s). Throughout the nineteenth century, Britain’s so-called informal empire – the regions where the country held economic sway – was at least as important as its actual empire.

British directors and investors effectively ran, and engineers and other technicians built, most of the large enterprises in Argentina, such as the railway, in the mid-19th Century. At the same time, Argentinean beef, mutton and grain were exported to Britain. The result was that by 1880 the Argentine Republic was “more important to the British economy than Egypt or China, or even Canada” (Ronald Hyam, Britain’s Imperial Century, 1815-1914).

Passenger Lists - British Officers to Argentina

This began to tail off in the Edwardian era but even as late as the eve of the First World War in 1914 British investment in Argentina (£319 million) was the same as that in South Africa, not far short of that in Australia (£350 million) and very significantly more than in New Zealand (£62 million) (Nigel Dalziel, Historical Atlas of the British Empire).

When World War One came in 1914, significant numbers of British in Argentina volunteered. The attached page of the passenger list of the Royal Steam Packet Co’s Meteor’s voyage to Argentina in July 1919 shows British officers and families repatriated at British government expense.

The BT27 passenger lists show a wide range of people travelling to and from Argentina. Many of the occupations given are related to the exploitation of the pampas – sheep farmer, ranch owner, wool buyer, estanciero – or to technical expertise – Cable & Wireless, railway official, civil engineer, accountant.

Some of the forenames of people travelling out to Argentina indicate earlier connections with the country – for instance, Carlos, Eduardo, Florencia, Orlando, Santiago. This is particularly true of the Welsh – see the Welsh in Patagonia blog for more information on the Welsh community. But don’t be surprised if, when looking at passenger lists for ships bound for Argentina, your search picks up a Francisco Smith, a Carlos Evans, a Juan MacDonald or a Catalina Murphy.

 View the full passenger list image


Siegfried Sassoon – a simple soldier boy.

September 25, 2007

The poet and author Siegfried Sassoon was best known for his writing on the futility and horrors of war.

Born in Matfield, Kent, Sassoon enlisted in the military in the run up to World War One. His style of poetry altered dramatically as a result of the events of the conflict, and his meeting with Robert Graves, a fellow poet.

Initially a poet in the romantic vein, Sassoon’s experiences of the horrors of World War One saw his work become more grounded in gritty realism. His verse sang out the carnage of the battlefields in order to undermine government propaganda, which glamourised and simplified military life.

Suicide in the trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps* and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

After World War One Sassoon travelled, giving lectures and readings, avowing his new belief in pacifism and socialism.  He can be seen on the Passenger Lists in 1920 travelling to the USA:

Sassoon

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Sassoon’s other great contribution to the world of literature was his encouragement and championing of Wilfred Owen, who died in 1918 on active service. Owen’s reputation went on to outstrip that of Sassoon.

Owen’s death can be found in the World War One Soldiers Died records, part of the extensive military collection on findmypast.com:

Owen

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*the sound of exploding shells


John McCormack – a long way from Tipperary

September 20, 2007

John McCormack was one of the most highly acclaimed singers of his generation, recording and releasing hundreds of classical, traditional and popular songs.

Born in Athlone, Ireland, McCormack won the gold medal for tenors at the Irish National Music Festival (Feis Ceoil) in 1903, at the age of 19. Following this he travelled to Italy to be trained by Vincenzo Sabatini, a noted singing coach.

Success and accolades followed; McCormack was soon singing with the Royal Opera, their youngest ever principal tenor at that time, and releasing records which sold in great numbers.

His repertoire included traditional and nationalist Irish songs such as ‘The Wearing of the Green’, ‘The Rose of Tralee’ and ‘Macushla’; he was a keen supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.  McCormack was the first singer to record ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ which was the biggest hit of 1915 and a popular marching song with soldiers on the Western Front.

McCormack travelled extensively to perform, visiting America, Australia and even Japan, becoming an American citizen in 1917.

He can be seen in the new decade of the Passenger Lists, travelling with his wife to the States in 1934. He is listed as Count John McCormack and she as Countess. The ‘Count’ appendage refers to a Papal title given to him by Pope Pius XI to recognise his generosity towards Catholic charities.

John McCormack

It is worth noting that, although Irish born, the McCormacks are both noted as being citizens of the U.S.A. in the Passenger List entry, due to their naturalisation there.

Visit the website of the John McCormack Society here.


The Contenders – The Gorgeous Gael, The Tonypandy Terror and The Whitechapel Windmill

September 19, 2007

The new decade of the BT27 Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com contains a great number of notable figures from the world of art, politics and literature.

An increasing presence in the Passenger Lists from the 1920s and ’30s on are figures drawn from the world of sport, as travelling to compete further afield became a more regular and feasible occurrence.

Many British and Irish boxers were drawn to America, by both the prize money and the prestige, to varying degrees of success.

Jack Doyle, born in Cork, Ireland, was nicknamed ‘The Gorgeous Gael’ and aside from showing great early promise in the sport was also a tenor, trained by the same man as the famous Count John McCormack.

His early fight career was impressive but he was unable to fulfil his potential, drinking heavily before fights and suffering defeats as a consequence.

He can be seen travelling to the States in 1937:

Jack Doyle

The trappings of his new-found fame were manifold –  Doyle married a Hollywood starlet, Movita Castaneda, who would later marry Marlon Brando. Together they toured music halls and in the late 1930s Doyle even appeared in a couple of Hollywood films, before sliding into poverty through serious gambling and alcoholism.

He descended into bankruptcy, prison (for assaulting a Garda Detective in Dublin) and ultimately died penniless in 1978.

Tommy Farr, ‘The Tonypandy Terror’, was a Welshman who, in August 1937, fought Joe Louis for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, at Yankee Stadium, New York. Although defeated, Farr gained widespread acclaim in lasting 15 rounds against Louis.

He can be seen en route to the fight in the Passenger Lists:

Tommy Farr

Judah Bergman, ‘Jack Kid Berg’, was a lightweight from Cable Street, London. He appears five times on the Passenger Lists in the 1930s. In the first he is only 21 and appears to be travelling with his whole family, as well as his manager.

Kid Berg

Bergman moved to America in 1931, winning 64 of his 76 fights whilst there. A Blue Plaque has been erected at Bergman’s first home, Cable Street, East London, in honour of ‘The Whitechapel Windmill’.

 

Thanks to Alex Daley for additional research.


New decade added to the Passenger lists – 1930-1939

September 18, 2007

Findmypast.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include 18.4 million names within 125,000 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1939.

The 1930s – an era of depression and despots

The 1930s were a decade that began with the Great Depression, in the wake of the Wall Street Crash, and ended in war. The global economic crisis saw the rise of extreme politics, the birth of fascism and the end of the prosperity and liberalism of the previous decade.

People were still travelling for work, and pleasure, but from 1933 the rise to power of Hitler saw thousands of people beginning to flee the Nazi regime. These migrants weren’t offered a great deal of help; Canada, for example, claimed that it could offer entry only to “certain classes of agriculturalists’, whilst Australia proclaimed that it would be unfair to give one class of non-British subjects preferential treatment.

Notable passengers on board in the 1930s

A great many recognisable figures from sport, entertainment and the arts can be found in the 1930s passenger lists.
Arthur “Harpo” Marx can be seen travelling to New York in 1931

Harpo

Whilst the British tennis legend Fred Perry is found aboard the Queen Mary in 1937

Perry

Other notable passengers include Laurel and Hardy, Somerset Maugham, Bob Hope, Cecil Beaton and Helen Keller.
A key figure in the 1930s was the American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal helped to pull the States out of Depression. His son, Franklin Delano Jr. can also be found

Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here.

Start Searching Now

Our premium Explorer Subscription offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £89.95 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £7.50 a month. The Voyager Subscription gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £14.95.

You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.

Search the Passenger Lists now.


Kaplinski on board

September 7, 2007

Many of you will have seen the moving story of Natasha Kaplinsky’s family, on the first episode of the new series of Who Do You Think You Are?

Her paternal grandfather, Moisza Kaplinski, can be found in the BT27 Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com. He travelled  3rd class from London to Cape Town, as a 23 year old single man, in 1929 aboard the Glengorm Castle.

Moisza Kaplinski

The address of all the Jewish passengers on the list is the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter at 82 Leman Street, Aldgate. See our earlier blog regarding Jewish migration to South Africa ,and the Shelter,  here http://www.ancestorsonboard.com/getSingleArticle.action?id=The%20Cape%20Colony

More information on the Shelter can be found at TNA’s Moving Here website here.

 


Are you a child of the Empire?

August 6, 2007

Empire’s Children contributor’s workshop.

On Wednesday 8 August, Channel 4 is running a one-day workshop for people with stories to tell about the British Empire.  The workshop is intended to complement the television series, Empire’s Children, currently airing on Monday nights at 9pm. Attendees are encouraged to bring photographs, transcripts and recordings if they have them.

Visit the website of Empire’s Children.

For further information email empireschildren@channel4.com

Empire’s Children on the Passenger Lists

One of the celebrities featured in Empire’s Children is Dame Diana Rigg. Diana lived in India between the ages of two and eight because her father worked on the railways in Bikaner.

Her father, Louis Rigg, was born in Doncaster and served an apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway. At the end of his apprenticeship he decided to reply to an advert for unmarried men to come to Rajasthan and work on the railways, as work of a similar kind in England had grown scarce.

Aged 22, Louis left for India in 1925. His entry on the passenger lists on ancestorsonboard can be seen below:

Louis progressed during his time in India, eventually achieving the rank of Chief Mechanical Engineer on the Jodphur Railway. An equivalent post in Britain would have earned him a Knighthood.

After the Empire

Following Indian Independence, Louis and his family returned to Britain, like so many other families who had lived in comfort in India. The process of readjusting to life in the austerity of post-war Britain was a notoriously difficult one, particularly for someone who had grown used to mixing with the leading lights of the British administration.

There was a degree of antipathy towards those who returned to England  from India after World War Two,  a lingering sense that they had been absent during the hardships of that time.

Ancestors on Board currently includes outbound passenger lists from the UK from 1890 to 1929, but will eventually cover lists up to 1960.  

Search the passenger lists now


Titanic – unknown child mystery solved at last

August 6, 2007

Six days after the Titanic sank, the body of a baby boy was found and recovered from the North Atlantic waters by the recovery ship CS Mackay-Bennett.

The child was not identified and, as such, was buried in Nova Scotia with a tombstone reading simply ‘The Unknown Child’.

With the advent in recent years of DNA testing, a move was made in 2001 to identify the child and, to this end, researchers from Ontario exhumed the body and carried out tests. By consulting the passenger lists they had narrowed down the possible identity to one from four: Gosta Paulson (noted as Gosta Paulsson on the list), Eino Panula (Eina Panula on the list), Eugene Rice or Sidney Goodwin.

Initial tests concluded that the body was that of Eino Panula, but last week this was shown to be erroneous. Advanced testing carried out on a tooth from the body, when compared to the DNA of a surviving relative, confirmed that ‘the unknown child’ was Sidney Goodwin. A shoe recovered from the scene also ties in with the child having been British. 

Sidney Leslie Goodwin, previously ‘the unknown child’ was born in September 1910 in Melksham, Wiltshire.

Sidney was the youngest of six children born to Fred and Augusta Goodwin, all of whom were onboard. Neither his parents nor his other siblings’ bodies were ever recovered.

The family had been emigrating from Fulham to Niagara Falls, Fred having decided to join his brother in America and seek employment in a new power station opening near there. Initially booked on a steamer, the family was transferred to the Titanic due to a coal strike which prevented their planned sailing.

The family can be seen in the passenger list here:


Moreton Bay Photo 12

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 12 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 11

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 11 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 10

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 10 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 9

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 9 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 8

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 8 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 7

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 7 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 6

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 6 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 5

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 5 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 4

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 4 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 3

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 3 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 2

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 2 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Moreton Bay Photo 1

August 1, 2007

To mark National Family History Week in Australia (4-12 August 2007) ancestorsonboard.com is launching the Moreton Bay Family History Challenge.

The Moreton Bay was the first of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line Ships designed to facilitate a state sponsored emigration of British subjects to Australia.

View a free two-minute movie entitled “Passenger Lists: People on the move” on the homepage of our sister site, findmypast.com. The movie contains original footage of passengers boarding the Moreton Bay for its maiden voyage from Tilbury, East London to Brisbane in 1921.

The accompanying full-colour 20-page passenger list will be made available free to view on the site from early August until the end of September.

Once you’ve seen the movie and viewed the images we want your help!

If you can identify anyone on the film or the list please email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com with the details of your research.

View an alphabetical list of the passengers’ surnames included on the list

To help you pick out individuals we’ve provided some stills from the movie. This entry is for photo 1 – if you recognise anyone in the photo please leave a comment here.

We’re giving away a free Voyager subscription to the first 50 people who can identify an ancestor within the 762 people who travelled on the Moreton Bay. If you think that someone on board is one of your ancestors, show us them in your family tree.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply upload your GEDCOM using the family tree builder on findmypast.com or start a tree from scratch using this new, free software. Once this is done email us at moretonbaychallenge@findmypast.com to let us know the details of your intrepid ancestor.

Use the family tree builder now

Please tell any of your family and friends that you think might be able to trace their ancestors emigrating to Australia aboard the Moreton Bay and present them with this exclusive way of researching their family trees.

Search the rest of the passenger lists

If you recognise anyone in this photo add your comments here.

Take the Moreton Bay Challenge today!

Good luck.


Bigamy and elopement on the Passenger Lists

July 16, 2007

Ancestorsonboard.com customer Catherine Major emailed us recently with a fascinating story that she uncovered whilst viewing the new decade of our Passenger Lists.

According to a family story, Robert Bruce ran away with his mistress, a ‘Mrs Harding’, to start a new life, leaving behind his wife and their 1 year old son. On searching our new decade, sure enough, Robert Bruce and his mistress could be seen travelling to Australia aboard the Berrima in July 1922.

What is most interesting about this story is the fact that the couple wanted to conceal the fact that they were travelling together, and the means by which they did so. The pair are not listed together on the Passenger List, having bought their tickets separately – he had ticket 249, she 238. Bruce can be seen four rows below Harding.

Robert Bruce and Maud Harding

The 1920s decade includes the traveller’s last address in the UK but rather than stating their correct ones, in Ripon, North Yorkshire, the couple give different Hotels in London’s Euston Square.

Catherine Major believes that the pair married upon their arrival in Adelaide, in what would have been a bigamous union.

Whilst this may seem a rather dramatic course of action to take, elopement and even bigamy weren’t as uncommon as one might imagine. Divorce in the UK at the time was rare; the only cause for which a divorce might be issued until 1936 was adultery and even that had a number of caveats procluding reciprocal adultery, connivance and collusion from allowing a legal end to the marriage. 

As such, the majority of unhappy marriages remained legally binding despite neither party wishing them to do so. In this climate married people, particularly men, often extricated themselves through extreme means.

It is also worth noting that as the address and personal information stated on the lists are as supplied by the passengers themselves, they must be viewed with a degree of caution.

It was not only a moribund marriage that caused people to take to the seas in search of a new life. There are two known examples of elopement on the Titanic.

Henry Morley, from Worcestershire, was eloping with Kate Phillips – Morley died in the sinking. They can be seen travelling as Mr and Mrs Marshall:

Henry Morley and Kate Phillips

Also on board were an Irish couple, Denis Lennon and Mary Mullin, who intended to disobey their families wishes and marry in America. They apparently presented themselves as brother and sister when travelling but their true relationship can be seen here.


Perhaps it was too loud for her

July 5, 2007

An interesting point to note when searching the Passenger Lists is that they were usually filled in a day or two before the actual departure date, based on ticket sales, and kept at the offices of the shipping company before being sent on to the Board of Trade. 

An illustration of this may be found in the new decade of the Passenger Lists; specifically the list for the Bendigo on 13 October 1927. Passengers detailed on this list can also be found on the Balranald, which sailed on 31 October 1927: seemingly impossible as both ships were bound for Australia.

The explanation is, in fact, a simple one. The Bendigo didn’t sail as scheduled and its passengers were transferred to the Balranald, presumably the company’s next available ship for Australia.

 bendigo detailsbendigo details

 overwritten detailsoverwritten details

The passengers transferred therefore appear on both lists, accompanied on the Balranald by anyone who bought a ticket after 13 October.

Whilst we don’t know why the Bendigo didn’t sail on 13 October, it could have been for any number of reasons such as mechanical failure, inclement weather or even industrial action (it was a coal strike in 1912 which caused many passengers to be bumped off cancelled sailings and to be re-booked on to the fateful voyage of the Titanic). What we do know is that the Bendigo did sail to Australia on 23 November 1927, as can be seen on our ship search screen:

 bedigo ship search

One of the passengers who sailed on the Balranald is of interest, in that she is a Hilda Margaret Eavis of Worthy Farm.

Hilda EavisHilda Eavis

Perhaps she had foreseen that her relative, Michael, would found the Glastonbury Festival on the site and wanted to avoid the crowds, or maybe she had grown tired of all the mud…


Children of the Empire

July 4, 2007

Find the Empire’s Children in your family tree

Starting on Monday 2 July at 9pm a new six-part Channel 4 television programme called Empire’s Children will be examining the Imperial backgrounds of six British celebrities, including Dame Diana Rigg, David Steel, Jenny Eclair, Chris Bisson, Shobna Gulati and Adrian Lester. The programme will be looking at the last days of the British Empire and the impact that it had upon modern Britain.

Imperial records on findmypast.com

With findmypast.com you can investigate your own connections to the Empire and discover ones that you didn’t even know existed. The exclusive Passenger Lists on ancestorsonboard.com currently cover every long-haul journey leaving the UK from 1890-1929 and include nearly 16 million names, detailing journeys to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South America, West Indies, Africa and many more besides. These full-colour, digital images make it easier than ever before to trace ancestors who left the UK for a life abroad or to serve the Empire for a few years. Search the Passenger Lists now.

Migration records

As well as the Passenger Lists, findmypast.com also contains a great number of other resources for tracing Children of the Empire. Search the Register of passport applications 1851-1903 as a perfect companion to the earlier passenger lists. Findmypast also holds a number of lists and registers for the East India Company, the India Office and the Bengal Civil Service. Search them now.

Overseas Birth, Marriage and Death records

Aside from Migration records, findmypast.com also hold extensive Consular and Overseas records. Find ancestors who were born, married or died abroad including our BMD’s at sea indexes.

Visit the website of Empire’s Children here


Another decade added to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists 1920 – 1929

July 2, 2007

Ancestorsonboard.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include an incredible 15,749,960 names within 97,614 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1929.

There’s more information available on the original images than in previous decades, such as each passenger’s last address in the UK, making it easier than ever to fill in the gaps in your research. 

The 1920s – bright young things and abdicating kings

It was the era of decadence and glamour. The Jazz Age in America, epitomised by the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, in Europe it was The Golden Twenties. With music, entertainment and art people looked to purge themselves of the horrors of The Great War; modernism flourished in both literature and an embracing of technological advances.

In this decade people were beginning to travel not purely out of necessity, but for its own sake. People still emigrated and travelled on business but were now also able to visit their family abroad, enjoy cruises and participate in international sporting events. Immigration to the USA began to tail off as, in 1922, the States looked to close their borders. This led to a growth in people looking to make Canada and, increasingly, Australia their new home.

Famous Names

Amongst the passengers recorded in this new decade are those from the burgeoning world of entertainment and sport. 

Noel Coward, Cary Grant, under his real name Archibald Leach

Cary Grant Passenger ListCary Grant Passenger List

Albert Warner of the Warner Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford can all be found in the 1920’s passenger lists, as can the Third Lanark Football team.

The now defunct Third Lanark AC’s trip was to raise funds for Scottish exiles in Argentina; a copy of the letter negotiating costs can be viewed here.

Third Lanark Passenger ListThird Lanark Passenger List

Find your ancestors in the Passenger Lists

Search by person or by ship name alone. You can now also narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion. A comprehensive guide to searching the passenger lists can be viewed here.

Start Searching Now

The Voyager Package gives you 30 days’ unlimited searching of all the Passenger Lists for only £15. Our premium Explorer Package offers you unlimited access to over 500 million records on findmypast, including the passenger lists, and costs £125 for 12 months – the equivalent of just £10.50 a month. You can also view the Passenger Lists on a pay-per-view basis. It costs 10 units to view a transcription and 30 units to view, print and save the full-colour digital images.


A surprising find – conclusion

June 15, 2007

My oldest surviving relative on the Towell side of the family is my Auntie Rene, now aged 86 and still with all her marbles intact. Could a visit to her shed some light on this new family mystery?

Indeed it could! – Rene was able to confirm that both her grandfathers, Thomas and his brother Joseph Towell, had travelled to New York in search of work. Their search had proved unsuccessful and they came straight back. Not only that, but Rene was able to show me a picture of Thomas and his brother, both with magnificent handlebar moustaches and ill-fitting bowler hats perched on their heads, reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy!

I wonder what would have happened if they’d found work – would Thomas’ future bride have travelled out and joined him? If so, would I now be writing this from the other side of the Pond? Or would they never have married? Perhaps I wouldn’t be here at all…

Rene was surprised to hear that her great-grandmother was travelling as well and I hadn’t seen any record of Joseph travelling. So I’ll keep searching for Joseph as the next decades of the passenger lists go live on ancestorsonboard.com.


A surprising find part 2

March 15, 2007

The plot thickens! Having now checked my records at home, it transpires that Harriet Sarah Towell was the mother of Thomas Towell – and the ages that I have for them on my tree match perfectly with those on the passenger lists.

BUT – I originally found these details on the 1891 England and Wales census, conducted some 8 months after their apparent departure to New York.

AND I also have a marriage certificate for Thomas Towell, dated November 1890 for a ceremony taking place in Hackney, London, and showing Harriet S Towell as a witness, and only 3 months after they appeared to be travelling to the States. I think I need to consult with some relatives on this.

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A surprising find

March 6, 2007

I’ve been researching my family history for the past 8 years or so, and I’m pretty convinced that all my ancestors prior to my mother’s generation remained within the UK. So it was with zero expectation that I typed my maiden name “Towell” into ancestorsonboard.com to search all years of the outbound passenger lists currently available.

I was rather taken aback to see one Harriet S Towell, aged 61, listed in the search results for 1890. I know from memory I have a Harriet Sarah Towell on my tree and it doesn’t strike me as a particularly common name. But what would she be doing travelling to New York in 1890?

On viewing the image, I can now see she was travelling with Thomas Towell, a carpenter aged 33. That strikes even more of a chord, as I know that my great-grandfather was Thomas Towell and he was a pianoforte manufacturer/ cabinet maker. Just a coincidence? I’ll need to check my tree at home to see how my Thomas and Harriet were related. Watch this space!

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Queens Advocate finds against The Crown

February 28, 2007

Today it is considered impolite not to discreetly overlook the complicity of African peoples in the slave trade. However, it is highly unlikely that the slave trade would have flourished as it did without the widespread and enthusiastic participation of Africans. Tribes such as the Ashanti in what was then the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and the Temni in Sierra Leone owned and traded in slaves. Ironically, Sierra Leone had been chosen by the British abolitionist Granville Sharp when seeking a colony for freed slaves and this led to the founding of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown in 1791. The Sierra Leone Company brought freed slaves from Nova Scotia and Jamaica to Sierra Leone and later, following the British abolition of the slave trade in 1808, the Royal Navy used Freetown as its base against slavers.

British relations with the native Temni people were generally amicable and trade flourished throughout much of the nineteenth century until an act of thoughtlessness and insensitivity by a governor, Sir Frederick Cardew, in 1893. Cardew received little or no money from London for the administration of the colony and needed to raise revenue, which he tried to do by means of a 5 shilling property tax. The tribal leaders took up arms at the indignity and the rising which followed in 1898 has become known as the Hut Tax War.

Afterwards, the Scottish barrister Sir David Chalmers QC was sent to investigate both the cause of the war and its conduct by the British. He found that Cardew was to blame. The Hut Tax was “obnoxious to the customs and feelings of the people” and was correctly perceived by tribal leaders as “taking away their rights in their country and in their property”. Moreover, it had been pitched too high and defaulters had been treated in a harsh and degrading manner. In short, the tax was unworkable, the people had a genuine grievance and the British now had their work cut out to rebuild not just the country and its infrastructure but also the confidence of the people. Unfortunately, Chalmers died shortly after submitting his report, the Colonial Office did not feel obliged to accept his findings and in 1900 the Hut Tax was re-imposed, albeit at a lower rate.

Click on the image below, which shows Sir David P Chalmers at the top of the passenger list of the Angola, dated 3rd July 1898, about to set sail from Liverpool to Sierra Leone. It is tempting to think that one or more of his four fellow travellers to Sierra Leone were accompanying him as part of a legal and secretarial support team but it is not possible to know this at this date.

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The loneliness of the South Atlantic

February 28, 2007

It is not easy to find positive comment written about South Georgia during the late Victorian or Edwardian period. “A barren snow-covered island in the South Atlantic, lying 800 miles ESE of the Falklands”, says one source from 1889, invitingly, adding as an afterthought “sterile and uninhabited”. Yet every possession in the British Empire needed its administrators and South Georgia, acquired in 1833 and annexed to the Falkland Islands, was no exception. There was no native population (other than that of penguins) to rule over, but there were itinerant sealers and whalers and, from 1909, that required the appointment of a magistrate.

The image below is taken from the passenger list of a January 1926 voyage of the Coronda from Glasgow to South Georgia Island. As he sailed to the end of the earth, the only passenger on board, 34-year old bachelor William Barlas of Pitlochry must have wondered what he had done to deserve his posting, and been grateful for the plentiful supply of long johns that his female relatives had knitted for him.

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Thousands are sailing

February 28, 2007

“Thousands are sailing / Across the western ocean / To a land of opportunity / That some of them will never see” (The Pogues, “Thousands are Sailing”).

By the time the Board of Trade began in 1890 to systematically collect details of all passengers on outward-bound long-haul sailings from Britain and Ireland – the records which now make up the BT27 passenger list record series – emigration from Ireland already had a long history. While emigration in the 1890s may have lacked the urgency of the famine years in the 1840s and 1850s, tens of thousands of ordinary Irish men, women and children were still leaving the country in the 1890s and 1900s. Most were bound for USA and were responding more to the “pull” of the New World rather than any “push” from the Old. Irish immigrants and their first and second generation descendants were making their fortunes and gaining positions of power in cities such as New York and Boston, and news of their success was constantly filtering back to family, friends and the wider community back in Ireland. Of course, numerically far more Irish immigrants in USA lived inner-city lives in poverty or on modest means than made it rich. As Shane MacGowan also sang on “Thousands are Sailing”: “Postcards we’re mailing / Of sky-blue skies and oceans / From rooms the daylight never sees”. However, it was the success stories which were heard and which continually re-stimulated emigration. Perhaps, after all, it is the hope of living with dignity, and the possibility, rather than any likelihood, of becoming wealthy, which provided the real draw.

To give an idea of the volume of Irish emigration, within the years from 1890 to 1909 inclusive, at present count there were 4,341 transatlantic sailings from the port of Queenstown (Cobh of Cork), 2,406 from Londonderry, 118 from Galway and 80 from Belfast.


The last of the Mohegan

February 20, 2007

In The National Archives’ BT27 passenger lists there is only one voyage for the Atlantic Transport Line’s Mohegan, on 12th October 1898, even though that voyage was actually the ship’s second. The reason for this is that the Mohegan was called the Cleopatra at the time of its first voyage on 29th July 1898. The Cleopatra proved less than shipshape on its maiden voyage, passengers complained and it had to undergo temporary repairs when it reached its destination in New York, followed by a full re-fit on Tyneside upon its return to Britain. When the ship was re-launched, the Atlantic Transport Line quietly changed the name to Mohegan to distance itself from the bad publicity surrounding the maiden voyage. Unfortunately, the second voyage from London to New York ended in catastrophe: the ship ran into the Manacles near St Keverne in Cornwall and sank within a quarter of an hour.

The sinking of the Mohegan is notable for several reasons. Among the more than 100 passengers and crew who were drowned was Joseph Charles Duncan, the father of avant-garde dancer and scarf-wearer Isadora Duncan. All bar one of the passengers on board appears to have been American, the sole exception being the sadly anonymous “Mrs King’s maid”, against whose entry on the list is the annotation “This girl was a native of Elstree” (in Hertfordshire). William McGonagall, possibly the worst poet in the English language ever to be published, penned the bathetic “The Wreck of the Steamer Mohegan” in tribute – see here: only the brave of heart will make it to the end. More recently, the wreck of the Mohegan has become popular with divers and was featured on BBC TV’s Coast series.

Read more about the Mohegan story.

Ancestors on Board will introduce new “ship search” functionality later this year, enabling researchers to look for voyages of vessels without needing to know the names of passengers. In the meantime, if you are interested in the passenger list of the Cleopatra, you can find it by searching for Last name: Babcock and Ship name: Cleopatra. Similarly, if you are interested in the Mohegan, you can find it by searching for Last name: Duncan and Ship name: Mohegan.

Click on the image below, which is taken from the top right-hand corner of the first page of the Mohegan passenger list. It reads “The SS Mohegan was lost off the Cornish coast and forty of her passengers perished. The eleven who were saved have been taken out of this list”. In fact, “taken out” merely means that the names of the 11 passengers in question have been struck through in pencil on the list: all names remain legible.

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New subscriptions: unlimited access to UK Outbound Passenger Lists

February 19, 2007

Findmypast.com has introduced two new ways to access UK Outbound Passenger List records, a data set launched by findmypast.com in association with The National Archives.

The Explorer Package – Updated
Unlimited access for this package has now been extended to include the complete set of records* on findmypast.com, including Birth, Marriage and Death records, Census, Passenger Lists and all new additions for £125 a year, that’s just £10.50 a month.

The Voyager Package – New
30-day access to our exclusive UK Outbound Passenger List transcriptions and quality colour images for just £25, that’s just 83p a day.

For more information on all our subscription packages click here.


Subscribe now

Sign in and click ‘subscribe now’ in the green ‘account status’ box on the left hand side.

Subscriptions are fantastic value for money and offer a convenient way to do your research. View the transcriptions and high quality original images as many times as you need to, without worrying about units running out. Our subscription packages are tailored to give you confidence in your research and to ensure that you find the right ancestor.

*For technical reasons, access to Living Relatives will be limited to 10 searches a year and will be available to Explorer customers in April.


How the British never ran out of steam

February 16, 2007

British steamships were powered by the miners of South Wales and the North of England. Without coal, there was no steam.

If you were the master of a British steamship, responsible for safely conveying passengers and your crew from, say, London to Auckland NZ, you would not wish to run out of coal mid-voyage, and there was little risk that you would. At the start of the BT27 passenger list period in 1890, it was probably not untrue to say that Britannia still ruled the waves and the Government controlled a network of strategically-placed coaling stations ocean-wide for the use and benefit of the mercantile marine as well as the Royal Navy.

There were 14 main coaling stations in British possessions, at which vessels could refuel. Spinning your globe anti-clockwise from the international date line, the 14 were King George Sound and Thursday Island in Australia; Hong Kong and Singapore in the Far-East; Trincomalee and Colombo in Ceylon; Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and Aden at the mouth of the Red Sea; Simon’s Bay and Table Bay in South Africa; Sierra Leone in West Africa and St Helena in the South Atlantic; and, finally, Jamaica and Castries Bay, St Lucia in the Caribbean. There were of course smaller coaling stations, such as Esquimalt in British Columbia and Perim in the Red Sea. Steamships were of course amply provided with coal, as well as other necessaries such as food and water, before they left British shores for their destinations worldwide, but the existence of coaling stations ensured that ships weren’t caught short and that passengers reached their destinations without inconvenience.


The Scottish West Indies

February 16, 2007

It has been claimed that the Scots created modern civilisation as we know it (see Arthur Herman’s The Scottish Enlightenment – The Scots’ Invention of the Modern World). Certainly, Scots played a disproportionately large and influential role in the British Empire, making their mark across the globe as British army officers, administrators of colonies, plantation owners, missionaries, doctors and traders.

Jamaica is a case in point. The island had been a British colony since 1655, a fact witnessed, for instance, by the naming of its three counties as Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey. By 1817, an estimated 23.5% of the white population were Scots. Once slavery was finally abolished in Jamaica in 1834, the colony underwent an economic slump for several decades, during which the fortunes of the Scotch and other British planters suffered a severe decline. Investment from UK and America picked up from the 1860s, sugar was progressively replaced by bananas as the principal cash crop, and the country began to rally by the 1880s. By the time of the 1891 census, the year after the BT27 passenger list series begins, the population was 639,491, of whom only 14,432 (2%) were enumerated as being white.

The two main ports in Jamaica were Kingston (the port there was actually called Port Royal, but this name does not seem to appear on passenger lists) and Montego Bay. However, many passenger lists refer simply to “Jamaica” as the destination, the inference being that the ship would be calling at the capital Kingston. Most passenger lists of the 1890s and 1900s for Jamaica contain many Scottish names.

The first image attached is a page from a 1904 passenger list for a voyage of the Port Kingston. In common with many lists of the date, it seems that the ship’s purser paid little heed to the Board of Trade’s request to divide British passengers into English, Scotch and Irish: all on this page (and elsewhere within the passenger list) are counted in the English column and yet it is difficult to believe that at least some of the passengers named Mackenzie, Mackay, Meldrum, Mitchell, Tod and MacTavish were not native Scots.

The second image shows a solitary passenger, Donal Morrison, aged 23, single and a musician, sailing from Glasgow to Kingston in 1891 and bringing the very best of Scottish music to the Caribbean.

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Professional squatters

February 15, 2007

You learn something new every day working on the BT27 passenger list project. I now know more than I ever expected to know about the ports of Equatorial Guinea and the geography of the island of Borneo. I have also been reminded how much knowledge is culturally specific. For instance, when I wrote about Dr Barnardo’s on the Ancestors on Board website, I assumed, without thinking, that the charity was a household name across the English-speaking world: I was then e-mailed by a contact in America suggesting that an explanation might be of benefit to readers on that side of the Atlantic. Conversely, the subject I am writing about today may be familiar in Australia but was new to me, and I hope that Australian readers will bear with me for the benefit of British readers.

The attached image shows the first page of a passenger list of the Arcadia from 1890. This ship was sailing from London to Australia. Among the “ladies and children”, and the parson, the farmer and the nurse, are three passengers for Sydney who declared their occupation to be that of “squatter”. In both its early and in its contemporary meanings, squatting is associated with illegal occupation of property or land and therefore is usually pejorative. However, in Australia by the 1890s, the term “squatter” was used largely in a neutral and descriptive way. Ogilvie’s late Victorian era British Imperial Dictionary of the English Language, for example, states that “In Australia the term is… applied to one who occupies an unsettled tract of land as a sheep-farm under lease from government at a nominal rent”. Indeed, if the word carried a value judgement at all, it was positive and indicated admiration of the success and status of the occupation.

The three squatters Hass, Posner and Neame on board the Arcadia were young single men aged 29, 26 and 28. As they were sailing from Britain in 1890, presumably they had made an earlier voyage from Australia and had already establishing their landholdings in New South Wales. Although they are recorded on the passenger list as being English, it seems likely that all three were born in Australia. If so, we can only speculate as to what they may have been doing in England in the winter of 1889/1890.

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UK outbound passenger lists available from 1890 to 1909

February 8, 2007

Findmypast.com has added another decade of records to the UK Outbound Passenger Lists currently available. Records now include a staggering 7.5 million names within 50,553 passenger lists spanning 1890 to 1909 alone. Records, once complete, will cover 1890 to 1960 and are expected to contain more than 30 million individual passengers.

Nearly twice as many people travelled by ship between 1900 to 1909 compared to the previous decade and more increasingly for business and as tourists.

To be kept informed of data releases and updates, sign up for our ancestorsonboard newsletter.

Available for the first time online, these records can provide valuable information on ancestors whose trails have gone cold. Read Stephen Rigden’s article to find out how he broke down a brick wall of his own using passenger list records.

Start searching the Passenger Lists now.
You can start searching at ancestorsonboard.com. To view passenger list transcriptions and images you will need pay-per-view units. If you need to buy more units click here.

Why not search our collection of migration records?


Blue Riband

February 8, 2007

The Cunard Line’s RMS Lusitania is renowned for various reasons, not least of which is its sinking by a German u-boat during the First World War. However, an earlier claim to fame also involved the Germans: the Lusitania was the British steamship which in October 1907 achieved the fastest ever west-bound transatlantic crossing (the first to make it in under 5 days) and reclaimed the Blue Riband from the Germans (whose ships had held it since 1898).

There are two passenger lists for the record-breaking voyage to New York, due to the way in which the Board of Trade filed passenger lists which boarded passengers from more than one UK port. The Lusitania departed Liverpool on 5th October 1907 and Queenstown (Cobh of Cork) one day later on 6th October 1907. The Board of Trade filing system was by port, which meant separating lists. For decades, therefore, the Liverpool list has been filed in archive box 542 and the Queenstown in box 551 in The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) at Kew, which inherited the BT27 records from the Board of Trade. The same is true of all those voyages – and there are many – which picked up passengers from two or more ports. One of the longer term intentions of Ancestors on Board over the course of 2007 is to connect these lists in such a way that researchers – ship buffs and maritime historians as well as genealogists – will be alerted to the existence of the companion list and will not labour under the misapprehension that there is, for example, only one list for a particular voyage.

Click below for the first page of the Queenstown list for the Blue Riband winning voyage. Nearly all the passengers on this page are described as being Irish labourers and servants. Those persons whose entries are crossed out bought tickets but did not board the liner. Like some other returns of this period, this one was completed in pencil which has faded over time. However, one advantage of this is that the crossed-out entries are still legible, which might not have been the case had they been scored through in ink. Note that the reference to “24 days” in the header of the list is to the provisioning for the voyage, not to the actual expected crossing time!

Readers inspired by this article to exercise their sea legs might like to visit http://www.cunard.com.

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Fishing fleet found in BT27 passenger lists

February 8, 2007

The attached image is the first page of the passenger list for the voyage of the Kaiser I Hind from London to Calcutta on 12th October 1893.

The passenger list shows what appears to be part of a fishing fleet. There are no obvious fishermen on board, however, because this is a very special type of fishing fleet. All the people on this page are noted simply as being “ladies and gentlemen”. Reading down the list of names, past Mrs Wright, Mrs Simpson, the infant and ayah (Indian nanny), you come to Miss Max, Miss Cowell, Miss Blyth, Miss Graham… a long sequence of unmarried women, down to Miss Sandys and Miss Good. This is the suspected “fleeting fleet”: marriageable young women sailing out to India in search of eligible bachelors, preferably the so-called “heaven-born” serving in the Indian Civil Service or officers in the Army. The fleet sailed out from Britain in the autumn or early winter and spent the next few cooler Indian months socialising at the British clubs and angling for a groom. There was always a shortage of unattached British women in India, so the arrival of the fishing fleet was doubtless fondly awaited by sincere and ardent gentlemen ready to be affianced, not to mention by dastardly bounders who enjoyed toying with a lady’s affections for the season.

Unsuccessful women – the “returned empties” – re-embarked for Britain in the spring.

According to the charity British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia, 2 million British and other Europeans are buried in the Indian sub-continent. Many more British people than realise it have a connection with India. If you are interested in the subject of the British in India from a family history perspective, two excellent places to start are BACSA’s website and the Families in British India Society.

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The South Africa Act 1909

February 5, 2007

On 20th September 1909 the British Parliament passed an act for the union of Britain’s four territories in South Africa – the Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. On 25th September 1909, Louis Botha, the Boer leader and PM of the Transvaal, boarded the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co’s Kenilworth Castle at Southampton to head back to the Cape. The Rt Hon Gen Louis Botha is shown on the British 1st class section of the ship’s passenger list: the column headed British Colonial is ticked against him and his wife “Mrs Botha”, which fact, had he known it, may or may not have pleased him. There is little other detail about Botha recorded on the list. There is no obligation to give one’s age and, as a courtesy to first class passengers, the pre-printed passenger list’s column headed Profession, Occupation or Calling of Passengers explicitly states that “In the case of first class passengers this column need not be filled up”.

The South Africa Act took effect the following year and in May 1910 Louis Botha became the first Prime Minister of the new dominion, the Union of South Africa.

World events. But did a relative of yours travel on that voyage of the Kenilworth Castle? Was he or she among the British billposters, blacksmiths, carpenters, clerks, domestic servants, engineers, farmers, fitters, maids, mechanics, miners, platelayers and stone cutters who travelled upon the same ship? Caught up in quite possibly the most momentous event of their own lives, such emigrants to South Africa may well have been unaware that King Edward VII had just given his royal assent to the South Africa Act and very probably were oblivious to the presence in first class of Botha and his fellow travellers who did not have to declare their profession, occupation or calling.

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So that is where they went: using BT27 passenger lists to break down brick walls

February 5, 2007

Thomas was born in 1885 in his home town and I had found him marrying his wife Lucy in 1904 and having two children, Onslow and Lucy, born there in 1904 and 1906 respectively. But, after that, no trace: no evidence of his or of his wife’s death, or of the marriages or deaths of his children. Thomas’s branch on my family tree was left hanging there, like a loose thread. If you are anything like most family historians, there will be one or more of these loose threads hanging from your tree too and you will know how frustrating it is, and how every now and then you pick at and puzzle over it again.

But now I know what became of Thomas and his family. I have found him in London in 1906, boarding the SS Sarmatian for a new life in Quebec. He must have gone out in advance of his family, as many men did, as I have also found his wife Lucy and their two children two years later, in 1908, on the passenger list for the Empress of Ireland’s sailing to Quebec.

I then started looking at other brick walls on my family tree. I’ve found my great grandfather’s brother John also heading to Quebec in 1906 on the Kensington, with his three infant children but, for a reason as yet unknown to me, without his wife Elizabeth. Did she follow later? Had she died? One puzzle solved but another question posed: such is family history.

The passenger lists mentioned above are all contained within the second decade of BT27, the years 1900-1909, which will be published shortly here on Ancestors On Board.


What is not in the BT27 passenger lists

January 31, 2007

Many researchers have e-mailed in asking whether we will be putting on Ancestors On Board any outbound passenger lists for years before 1890.

Outward-bound passenger lists in Britain were not officially required to be kept until 1890 and The National Archives’ BT27 record series only includes passenger lists between 1890 and 1960. This means that unfortunately we are not able to publish online any earlier lists.

However, although there was no systematic record keeping prior to 1890, there are of course earlier survivals for various ports and shipping lines. The best starting point is to look at the TNA’s passenger lists research guide, which can be downloaded free of charge online. This guide gives a good overview of what is available at TNA in Kew, together with links to major overseas websites and a reading list.

It is also worth stating that the BT27 passenger lists on ancestorsonboard in theory exclude domestic voyages from one British port to another; short-haul voyages from Britain to Europe and the Mediterranean; merchant navy voyages; Royal Navy voyages; troop ships; details of crew (other than the master of the ship); voyages after 1960; ships sailing from Republic of Ireland ports following the partition of Ireland in 1921 and the creation of the Irish Free State; or any incoming voyages to Britain. In practice, however, there are some exceptions that prove these rules: for example, BT27 includes passenger lists for sailings to Iceland and tourist cruises to the Norwegian fjords and the Mediterranean, some lists are for a solitary paying passenger or groups of passengers on merchant shipping, while other lists give details of higher-ranking ship’s crew, such as surgeon, chief engineer and chief steward.


Under threes go free

January 30, 2007

Click on the link below to see one of the many miscellaneous items which appear within the BT27 passenger lists, together with the page of the passenger list to which it refers.

The short and somewhat abrupt letter is from the Orient-Royal Mail shipping line (later to become a subsidiary of P&O) to the Board of Trade. The document itself bears a rusty mark top-left from an ancient paper clip, while both the typewriter ink and the pen ink used by the signatory have run slightly but remain perfectly legible. We can reconstruct a reasonably reliable narrative on the basis of this letter and the accompanying passenger list.

Danish farmer Mr Liels P Anderson and his wife Mrs K Anderson purchased in advance 3rd class ticket numbers 401 and 402 for the 15th May 1908 sailing of the Oroya from London to Australia via Suez. They were accompanied by their infant daughter Valborg Marie Anderson but did not buy a separate ticket for her, on the basis that under threes travelled free on Orient-Royal Mail Line’s sailings at that date. The passenger list is drawn up from ticket sales and therefore the young Valborg did not appear on the original list. However, this discrepancy came to the notice of the Board of Trade, perhaps through customs officials in London or, more likely, from the authorities in Brisbane when the Andersons disembarked. An indignant Board of Trade called in person on the Orient-Royal Mail Line (their offices were within walking distance of one another in the City of London’s EC district) to demand that it explain itself. The letter of 14th August 1908 that survives is the curt and dismissive response from the shipping line, exasperated that, three months later, the officious and meticulous Board of Trade is still quibbling about the presence or absence of a Danish infant on their passenger list. The matter was clearly to continue for some time yet, as the Board of Trade has pencilled a query on the letter saying “? sex of child – ask N.O.”. In any event, the shipping line learnt its lesson and the surviving final copy of the passenger list thankfully includes Valborg Marie Anderson, entered at a later date and in a different hand.

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Sun, sea and ruins

January 26, 2007

When you see Palestine as a destination in a passenger list, your first thought is that the travellers on board must be pilgrims to the Holy Land. But click on the link below and look more closely at these passengers’ details from 1895. Their ages look wrong – many are in their thirties or forties. Only one of those on board has a title suggesting a religious vocation. Then you remember the full itinerary of the voyage – “South of France, Italy, Palestine etc” – and see that across the first page is written “Tour”. In fact, these travellers are artists and aesthetes, scholars and dilettantes, dabblers in antiquity from the beau monde of the 1890s on a tour of the Mediterranean.

Rev William John Loftie, like many a leisured Victorian clergyman, is an enthusiast in temporal affairs as well as in the saving of souls: in his case, majoring not as an entomologist or an etymologist but as a learned author and antiquarian. Mr Tristram Ellis, Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers, is a water-colourist and etcher whose works still fetch good money at auction. Sir John Benjamin Stone, industrialist and MP, when off duty has a passion for photography – he founded the National Photographic Record Association, a kind of pioneering national memory bank, and his collection is now to be found in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and at Birmingham Central Library.

Dig a little deeper beneath the surface of many passenger lists such as this and a whole world begins to emerge.

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Anyone for Jones River?

January 26, 2007

Some of the most fascinating of the passenger lists of the 1890s are those of the British & African Steam Navigation Company Ltd serving the West Coast of Africa. The lists themselves are pro forma, with “List of passengers per SS…” pre-printed at the top of the page followed by a space for the master to fill in the name of the ship, the date of departure from Liverpool and the destination. Each list is short, giving details of maybe a dozen or 15 passengers.

These handwritten documents are pleasing in themselves but what is particularly interesting about them is that the shipping company operated an “on demand” or “request” feeder service. In other words, rather than having a fixed itinerary, each sailing would call en route at those ports at which the fare-paying passengers wished to disembark. This means that, as a researcher, you do not know from one passenger list to the next where a ship will be calling. It also means that obscure and small ports or harbours sometimes appear in the lists.

The obscurity of some of the ports can create difficulties for us at ancestorsonboard when we come to check the transcription of lists and to match destination ports with countries for online searching. For instance, in the entire decade of the 1890s we appear to have just single sailings to places called Pedro and Jones River. The accuracy of the transcriptions has been checked and they are faithful to the original document. However, at the time of writing we remain uncertain as to the location of these two ports. We know of course that they must have been somewhere upon the route of the vessel indicated by the destinations of other passengers, but this simply means that we have to consider Madeira, the Canary Islands and the entire coast of Africa from Morocco round to the Congo. We believe that Pedro may well be San Pedro in the Ivory Coast. To date, however, we have not identified a Jones River in West Africa.

Click on the link below for a passenger list for a typical West Coast of Africa voyage from 1892. You can see the various stopping-off ports listed down the right-hand side. This list was chosen by way of example as it includes a Mr F M Hodgson travelling to Accra in what was then the Gold Coast Colony (now Ghana). Mr (later Sir) Frederick Mitchell Hodgson was the Governor of this British colony at various points between 1889 and 1900 and features at least seven times in the passenger lists for the 1890s. There are also two lists which presumably refer to his wife, the earlier one as Mrs and the later as Lady Hodgson. You can find other Administrators and Governors of British West African colonies in the BT27 passenger lists for the 1890s – for instance, try searching for Sir Robert Baxter Llewelyn (going to Gambia), or Frederick Cardew or William Hollingworth Quayle Jones (both Governors of Sierra Leone).

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Improved searches on ancestorsonboard passenger lists

January 25, 2007

With so many records in the BT 27 Outbound Passenger Lists (over 3 million names in the first decade alone), it can sometimes be difficult to identify the right record if you’re searching for a common name.

We’ve improved the search to make it easier to pinpoint the person you’re looking for.

  • You can now specify the name of the ship on which your ancestor travelled.
  • The free search results now give the age of the passenger where this is given in the original.

And we’re not stopping there. We are committed to reviewing and improving our products and listen to our customers’ requests.

Coming soon: you’ll soon be able to narrow your search with the name of a travelling companion – looking for a John Smith travelling with a Sarah Smith cuts down the number of potential entries.

Try out our new, improved passenger list search.


The non-passengers

January 22, 2007

Outward-bound passenger lists from UK differ in many ways from their counterparts prepared upon arrival in the destination ports. The British lists were drawn up in the British Isles to meet the requirements of the shipping line and the government’s Board of Trade, while passenger manifests prepared in, say, USA or Australia or New Zealand were designed to meet local needs (for instance, those of customs and immigration).

One point of difference is that the British lists were generally put together upon the basis of tickets sold. Not all passengers who had a ticket (and were “contracted to sail”) actually went on the journey: some may simply have been delayed and missed the boat, while others may have had a change of heart and decided at the last minute not to travel (one can imagine how, following news of a sinking or an accident at sea, some would-be travellers would be reluctant to board ship). However, while such people did not actually sail, they will still be on the passenger list, as they had purchased tickets and therefore were in the shipping company’s records. Ticket-holding non-passengers appear on the passenger lists, usually struck out with a line (but still legible) and marked as DNB (Did Not Board) or NOB (Not On Board).

Click on the link below to see, by way of example, a page of a passenger list for the Lord Gough, which sailed from Liverpool to Philadelphia on 8th February 1893. This is interesting in two respects. Firstly, towards the foot of the page we see “no-shows” Robert King (aged 25) and his 3-year old daughter Annie struck out in blue pencil and marked NOB. Further up the page, however, we see another struck-out passenger, Emanuel Mayman, a 30-year old “foreign” labourer, marked as “Rejected”. This man turned up but was refused: the annotation is obscure but presumably he was turned down for medical reasons or for anti-social behaviour.

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Across the main to Maine

January 22, 2007

The Allan Line and the Dominion Line both served North American ports from their bases in Liverpool. The more northerly transatlantic routes were seasonal. Sailings to Quebec and Montreal in Canada took place in summer, when the St Lawrence River was navigable for ocean-going vessels as far as Montreal, but switched to Halifax NS and Portland ME during the winter months when the St Lawrence would freeze. The seasonal pattern to sailings means that if you know that a person you are looking for landed at, for example, Portland, they are far more likely to have arrived in the States after October and before April.

Many of the persons travelling to Quebec and Montreal were travelling on to destinations not within Canada but the USA, particularly in the Midwest: it is therefore always wise to consider passenger lists for Canadian ports when looking for evidence of American immigrants. It seems possible, from passengers’ occupations, that the fares to the four ports mentioned above might have been cheaper than those to Boston and New York further south, and this may have been part of their attraction.

Portland ME may not have the glamour of Boston or New York but by the 1890s it was a rapidly expanding town and busy entrepot, not just as a result of its being a hub receiving immigrants and other travellers, but also because of its handling of exports of goods (such as grain) from the Midwest.

Click on the link below to see the first page of a passenger list from December 1891. The ship was the Allan Line’s Numidian and it is notable that the transatlantic crossing from Liverpool to Portland was expected to take 37 days. The passengers detailed on this page are all recorded as being English – even the delightfully named single adult female Miss McGrotty, whom otherwise we might perhaps have expected to see in the “Scotch” column of the list. Other pages of the same passenger list show contingents of “Foreigners” with Northern European surnames such as Antila, Bender, Bilker, Jensen and Persson.

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Why we should be thankful for the Merchant Shipping Act 1906

January 17, 2007

BT27 records details of many types of traveller: emigrant, businessman, tourist, diplomat and so on. A significant proportion of the emigrants within these passenger lists did not begin their journey in the British Isles, however. These emigrants are known as trans-migrants or, in the charming terminology of the time, alien trans-migrants. Typical of these are the men, women and children who had embarked from ports in Scandinavia and the lands bordering the Baltic Sea for a British sea port, typically Hull, Leith, London or West Hartlepool. From their port of entry into Britain they would cross the country to a west coast port: for instance, travel by train from Hull to Liverpool, or from Leith to Glasgow. From Glasgow or Liverpool these trans-migrants would then board the great ocean liners bound for Canada and USA.

As the numbers of these migrants increased during the 1890s and 1900s, the British authorities reacted. In 1906 Lloyd George, the then President of the Board of Trade, passed a Merchant Shipping Act which, while largely focused on improving conditions for merchant seamen, required shipping lines to record basic details of the first leg of such trans-migrants’ journeys. This is good news for researchers, in that it provides evidence of the Baltic or North Sea route taken by Nordic emigrants. For example, a passenger list may indicate that a Finnish emigrant arrived at Hull on a Good & Co ship, or a Norwegian landed at Hull on board a Wilson Line boat.

For more on Norwegian emigration, visit Børge Solem’s excellent www.norwayheritage.com. You do not need to be blessed with Norwegian forebears to find Norway Heritage interesting, as the articles (which are written in impeccable English) are of value to anyone interested in transatlantic emigration.

Click on the link below for an image taken from a 1910 passenger list, which shows Danes, Norwegians and Finns bound for St John NB in Canada.

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The Honourable Member

January 17, 2007

Ancestorsonboard was launched last week with the long-distance outbound passenger lists for the period 1890-1899, being the first 10 years of records held within The National Archives’ BT27 record series.

By the 1890s, Britain’s long relationship with India had become a complex entanglement, full of contradictions and paradoxes. It’s interesting to see in the passenger lists for vessels heading out to India not just British passengers but also a good number of Indians – and not just the occasional anonymous ayah attending young children (an ayah was an Indian nanny, usually greatly beloved by her charges, judging by autobiographies and oral histories of the British in India). If you search on ancestorsonboard under any common surname from the sub-Continent, there is a decent chance that you will be returned positive search results. Try for yourself under names such as Ali, Banerjee, Khan, Rahman or Singh. Some of these men – and they usually were men – were professionals: lawyers, doctors and teachers who had been educated or trained in UK. Others were Indian princes – the other day I came across His Highness The Maharajah of Kapurthala.

Click below to see a page of a passenger list from 1896 which, five names from the end, includes “Bhownaggree Mr MP”, a single male “gentleman” travelling from London to Bombay. We cannot be entirely sure but it seems highly probable that MP refers to Member of Parliament and not the initials of the traveller in question. If so, this passenger list captures a historic figure in Anglo-Indian relations. Although today not a household name like Gandhi, Sir Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree was well known in his day. His achievement was to become only the second Indian to be elected to the House of Commons and the first Tory MP to be so – the first Indian MP in Britain, Naoroji, had entered the House as a Liberal Party MP in 1892. Against all expectations at the time, Bhownaggree, who was a barrister, won a seat in Bethnal Green in London’s East End in 1895 and, moreover, held it and was re-elected in 1900. Bhownaggree also serves as a salutary warning against the over-simplifying of history: he was a supporter of the British Empire and yet a campaigner against the over-taxing of India, respected by Gandhi as a champion of the rights of Indians in South Africa but known by other Indian nationalists as “Bow and Agree” because of the accommodations he made with the British.

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This year or last year

January 15, 2007

Have you ever caught yourself, during the first week or two of a new year, out of habit still writing or typing the old year? It’s too easy a mistake to make: for 52 weeks you’ve been using the old year and it takes a week or two to absorb the novelty of the new one.

The BT27 passenger lists show us that this error has probably always been with us. The archive box full of passenger lists says they date from 1909, say. But you take out a list and there on the front page, as clear as day, it says January 1908. Surely, you think, the list couldn’t have taken a full year to reach the Board of Trade, the British government department for whose use and enjoyment these meticulously compiled lists of passengers were originally intended. No. You turn to the summary page, which usually bears the imprimatur of the Board of Trade, and sure enough this is endorsed by a BT official with a rubber stamp giving a date in January 1909. Then you realise: a clerk simply forgot the recent change in the calendar when writing out the list. Doubtless the Board of Trade officials were not infallible either, although I have yet to discover my first instance of them getting the year wrong. But it is another illustration of how errors abound in original, primary source material and how all of us researchers need to remain alert.

The accompanying image shows a variation upon this theme. In this case, the clerk (seemingly the Emigration Officer Mr Findlay) has unwittingly written the date on the top of this single page passenger list as 2nd January 1896, while at the foot of the page Mr Sargent the Officer of Customs, who received and countersigned the document a couple of days later, has dated it correctly as 4th January 1897.

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Howzat!

January 12, 2007

Cricket. The game of gentlemen amateurs, sportsmen with long flowing beards and voluminous sideburns, bowlers in, er, bowlers. Eternally travelling south of the Tropic of Capricorn in search of sporting glory. The image of a passenger list from September 1891 shows Lord Sheffield’s Eleven, sailing in First Saloon class from London to Sydney to give the Aussies the customary good drubbing.

Among the XI is the captain WG Grace, the last Victorian cricketer to remain in our early C21st public consciousness. At this date, William Gilbert was a sprightly 43 year old and well able to bat back anything that young pup Shane Warne could have thrown at him. He was to die in 1915, after a decent innings of 67 years.

For more on Grace, visit Wisden here.

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Penny farthing for your thoughts

December 19, 2006

Hmm. We were forewarned to expect the unexpected in BT27 but we did not quite expect this.

The drawing shown is on the front of a pre-printed passenger list covering the saloon passengers on the Lycia on its voyage from Liverpool to Kurrachee (as today’s Karachi was then known in the English-speaking world) and Bombay in 1891.

The engravers responsible for this charming picture of a moustachioed gent on a penny farthing were the renowned Boston firm of John A Lowell & Co. The penny farthing boneshaker might have already been on the road to obsolescence by 1891, following the invention of the safety bicycle (forerunner of the modern bike) in 1885. However, it still had a few more years of life in it: the 1890s was the decade of the so-called bicycle craze, during which cycling became highly fashionable, including among liberated women, leading (among other things) to the invention of the bloomers (but that’s another story).

The question remains, though, why this was thought to be an appropriate image to grace the front of the passenger list. Was a team of top cyclists on board, heading to the sub-Continent to demonstrate their art? Or was this simply 1891’s aspirational equivalent of a young woman sitting cross-legged at a laptop with a cappuccino? Answers in an e-mail to the usual address please.

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Project update

December 19, 2006

We’ve just finished loading the first decade (1890-1899) of Ancestors on Board on to our “test environment” (which is where we complete final rounds of quality checking before the records are published on the web). What is amazing, and unique to this set of passenger lists, is its truly global reach. There are of course plenty of British and Irish people travelling to USA (and plenty of Americans on the return leg back home from Europe). But the world is bigger than baseball’s World Series suggests, and during the closing decade of the 19th Century ships were leaving the shores of the British Isles for every continent on the planet, and just about every remote oceanic island. The real surprise is the sheer number – tens of thousands – of passengers destined for ports in, for example, South America (especially Argentina and Chile) and the west coast of Africa from Cape Verde round to Gabon.

Such passengers (not all of whom were permanent emigrants) were of all stripes – engineers, merchants, miners, farmers and missionaries, for instance. When trying to break down “brick walls” in your family tree, therefore, it can be a mistake to restrict your vision to the more traditional English-speaking destinations popular with migrants from the British Isles and, hopefully, Ancestors on Board will be of great help to family historians in this respect.

The other startling fact is the number of ports of call on some regular routes (just one thing which separates long distance travel by sea from its modern equivalent by air) and the literally round-the-world journeys some ships made. For example, one scheduled voyage in the late 1890s, that of the appropriately-named Oceana, traces a route from London via Madeira, through the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, calling at Karachi, Colombo, Madras and Bombay in the Indian sub-Continent, then Penang and Singapore, Yokohama and Kobe in Japan, then at King George Sound, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart in Australia, on to Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Lyttleton, Christchurch and Auckland in New Zealand, and finally back to Sydney and Brisbane in Australia. Presumably, being a British-registered ship, it would then make the return trip…

As soon as the current round of testing has been completed, the decade from 1890 to 1899 will be launched here on the Ancestors on Board website and you will be able to discover for yourself the lengths to which our ancestors were prepared to go.


Aberdare to Argentina

December 19, 2006

The wanderlust of the Scots is well-documented and the Irish are notorious emigrants: indeed, sometimes the impression is given that there is a townland somewhere in the south of Ireland which breeds nothing but American presidents. However, the international movements of the Welsh tend to be overlooked when emigration from the British Isles is discussed. Wales so often gets subsumed with the legal jurisdiction of England.

For example, many of the pre-printed forms used in the earliest years of the Board of Trade passenger lists in The National Archives’ BT27 record series blithely ask the shipping line to record whether passengers on its voyages are English, Scotch, Irish or “Foreigners”: the Welsh are to be recorded under English. Needless to say, Welsh surnames, no less than Scottish or Irish, have been transplanted across the world. Blackstone QLD and Ballarat VIC in Australia, and Scranton PA in USA, for example, have very strong Welsh immigrant communities.

However, the most well-known and fascinating, if perhaps not the most successful, community is that in Patagonia (in Argentina), which was established in 1865. Unlike many Welsh immigrant communities, that in Patagonia was founded on farming rather than mining. Patagonia continued to attract fresh groups of migrants from Wales until 1911, although throughout the same period there was also a counter movement from Patagonia back to Wales and an onward movement of the disillusioned to, for example, Canada and Australia.

Today, the descendents of the pioneers live in towns such as Gaiman, Rawson and Trelew in Argentina (called yr Ariannin in Welsh) and speak Spanish with a Welsh accent and Welsh, when they still do, with a Spanish lilt. Those with an interest in the Welsh in Patagonia should read the excellent article in issue 8 (June/July 2002) of Ancestors magazine, which also gives suggestions for further reading.

Back copies of this magazine can be obtained through its website:
http://www.ancestorsmagazine.co.uk.


Brick Wall

December 6, 2006

What do Miss Barbara Clark (prison officer, 27, of Aylesbury), John Woodrow (rabbit catcher, 21, of Lighthorne, Warwickshire), 40-year old Glaswegian dairymaid Miss Elizabeth Barr, and Rufus Workman (33-year old fireman of London N15) all have in common? They all left Britain in 1923 to start a new life in New Zealand. We do not know whether they made a life there, or found the land not to their liking and returned home or maybe tried their luck in Australia. But these and hundreds of other Britons on this ship, and on hundreds of voyages like it, took this step and caught the boat to Auckland, Wellington or Port Chalmers in NZ, or to other ports in distant lands.

The point is that we all have brick walls on our trees. We all discover people who we can trace no further in the records in the British Isles. Many of these persons will have emigrated and, for each one between 1890 and 1960, the outward-bound passenger lists in the BT27 series on ancestorsonboard will open up a new avenue of enquiry for the family historian to consider.

The image shows the final page of the passenger list for the voyage of the New Zealand Shipping Co’s steamship RMS Remuera which took Clark, Woodrow, Barr and Workman to New Zealand. This is a typical summary page, which shows the shipping clerk’s pencil and ink workings as he reconciled the numbers of tickets sold with the passengers who boarded. You can see that 566 “souls” boarded, which converts to 500 “statute adults”. An adult is defined as a person aged 13 and over, and equates to one “statute adult”. A child is a person aged between one and 12 years and counts as half a “statute adult” when it comes to calculating the number of “statute adults”. An infant is under the age of one year and, although counted as a “soul”, is excluded from the “statute adult” tally.

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Putting the steer into steerage

December 6, 2006

The lowest class of human accommodation on board vessels was known as steerage, later euphemised into “third class” and, after WW1, into “tourist third cabin”. Among the passenger lists from the 1890s and 1900s, I have came across several passenger lists for voyages to USA on which there would be a group of a dozen or so “returning cattlemen”.

What had these American cowboys been doing in the shires of England? Had they been educating dairy farmers in the use of the lasso when encouraging a less docile Buttercup or Daisy to the milking parlour? Had they brought the Wild West excitement of the rodeo to late Victorian and Edwardian England? It seems that the reality was less romantic.

From around 1875 to just before the First World War, live cattle made a one-way trip from the States and, of course, cattle require cattlemen in attendance. Unfortunately, though, there appears to be no authority for young bullocks – steers – giving steerage its name…

The passenger list image shows a gang of baked-bean-eating chap-wearing twenty-something cattlemen returning to Philadelphia in 1890.

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The Cape Colony

December 6, 2006

If we think of it at all, most of us think of Jewish migrants from the Russian Empire either side of 1900 as having fled the persecution and poverty there for the safe shores of USA. However, this is not the whole story. The passenger lists in BT27 help to illuminate the lesser-known story of the Jews from Russia who travelled to South Africa.

These migrants came especially from the region around Kovno, now known as Kaunas in Lithuania. They travelled via a port such as Libau (today’s Liepaja in Latvia) on ships bound, via the Baltic Sea and (after its opening in 1895) the Kiel Canal shortcut, for English east coast ports. From there, they travelled overland, usually via London, to Southampton to embark for the Cape.

This movement of people was not accidental: a whole business existed to cater for them, from the ticket agents in the Kovno area, to shipping lines such as the Wilson Line shuttling between Libau and Hull, to the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter in London which housed and orientated many of the trans-migrants, to the Castle Line and the Union Line which specialised in the route to the Cape. And like any successful movement of people, it became self-perpetuating, as the new South Africans sent home letters, and money, encouraging others to follow suit. The first South African census in 1911 indicates a population of 47,000 Jews, most of whom were Lithuanian Jews or “Litvaks” who had arrived since 1892, which also means that a great many of those Americans with Litvak ancestors are likely to have kin who travelled to South Africa.

The image shows one page of an alphabetical 1896 passenger list from the Union Line’s Athenian. Alongside the miners on the gold rush, you will see Jewish surnames such as Cohen, Ginsberg, Grabowski and Greenbaum. Notice how the passenger list at this date had a column charmingly named “Foreigners” and how this is more populated than those for the English, Scotch and Irish.

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Sources and further reading

Dr Nicholas J. Evans, ‘Libau and the Evolution of Port Jewish Identity, 1880-1914’, in Jewish Culture and History, Volume VII, Numbers 1- 2 (2004), pp. 197-214.

Aubrey Newman , ‘The Union Castle Line and Emigration from Eastern Europe to South Africa’:

http://www.le.ac.uk/hi/centres/burton/pubs/pdf/union.pdf

For more about the Jewish community in South Africa, visit:

 http://www.jewishgen.org/SAfrica


Playing the record

December 6, 2006

It’s always fascinating to investigate for yourself a new record source and I’ve been privileged enough to spend time looking at hundreds of the passenger lists from BT27. This has also crystallised for me the different experience you have with the original documents (or, in this case, high quality images of them), which you do not get with pure data.

If you search a database and find an index entry and even a full transcription of the original, yes you obtain the key facts, but these are bare facts.

When you view the image of the original document, you have the opportunity to verify details for yourself and often to glean additional details not captured in the transcription. Both of these are of course important. However, even where the details prove correct and you find that there is no additional information on the image, there is something in the experience of seeing the actual image which is more than the sum of that information. It’s not easy to describe, but one way is to think of the lyric books (opera buffs: replace “lyric” with “libretto”) which come with a CD or LP: you can read the lyrics on the page, but this is one-dimensional compared to the full, rounded emotional experience of playing the CD and listening to the songs.

Of course, viewing an image online is itself surpassed by the experience of holding an actual document in the hand (maybe compare listening to the CD with being at a live concert!), but usually this is not a reality for most people. However, we are trying to make sure that the high quality colour images which will be appearing on ancestorsonboard reproduce as complete an experience as is possible online. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


USA via Canada?

December 6, 2006

The number and frequency of sailings to USA shows how lucrative the transatlantic trade was, with various routes served by competing shipping lines. There were regular sailings from Southampton, Glasgow, Queenstown (Cobh of Cork) and other ports, but not all travellers to America went via American ports such as New York and Philadelphia. The alternative option, especially if your destination was a northern State, was to travel via Canada.

It is noticeable from passenger lists from the 1890s and 1900s where the ship was sailing to, for example, Montreal via Quebec, that the “port at which passengers have contracted to land” field is being used for landlocked locations: in other words, places such as Chicago IL or Detroit MI to which a large sea-faring vessel could never have sailed!

It seems unlikely that the shipping line would have troubled to collect information of no significance to it. It therefore seems probable that in these cases the passengers had bought an inclusive through ticket, covering both their transatlantic voyage and their subsequent overland journey by rail, or possibly road, to their final destination.

The snippet from an 1890 Montreal-bound passenger list shows a passenger going on to Spokane WA and another heading to Calgary AB on the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway).

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The Quarrier Children

December 6, 2006

Everyone here in UK knows the name of Dr Barnardo’s but there were several other Victorian and Edwardian era charities with similar philosophies and aims. One was the Orphan Homes of Scotland, which had been set up in Glasgow by one William Quarrier in the 1870s and became known simply as “Quarriers”. One of the first BT27 passenger lists from 1891 to be transcribed included an appended three-page list made up entirely of boys, given in order of descending age from 18 to 6 years old.

At the top of the first page “Quarriers party” was written in large letters and in such a way as to make it clear that the name would be familiar to anyone reading the document at that time. The boys were travelling together from Glasgow to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada, one of many such parties of impoverished or orphaned boys sent by the charity to start a new life in Canada.

From Halifax they would have been dispersed across Canada in farms and homesteads. To find out more about the Quarriers, go to their website at http://www.quarriers.org.uk/about/history/index.php or to the family history society created by descendants of the original children http://www.quarrierscanadianfamily.com.

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Welcome to ancestorsonboard.com

December 6, 2006

Welcome to the BT27 Passenger Lists news section! This area will provide updates on the project as it develops: we aim to give you an insight into the process of digitising paper originals and bringing them to the web. We will also include details of interesting finds and keep you up-to-date with launch dates.

This page will be updated regularly by members of the findmypast.com team, so do check back soon to keep abreast of the latest news!