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.