What is not in the BT27 passenger lists

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.

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