How to look for French muster rolls from the Battle of Trafalgar 1805

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What are these records?

These are muster rolls of ships which were led by Captain (later Vice-Admiral) Richard Strachan, and sent to capture French ships in the Bay of Biscay on November 1805.

At the time Royal Navy sailors received bonuses for capturing enemy vessels. They were rewarded for each ship captured and returned to the UK, and given a further bonus for men captured.

The collection includes muster rolls and other documentation seized at the time from the following ships:

These were the only enemy ships involved in the Battle of Trafalgar to be taken to the UK.

How do I search the records?

You can search the records in Discovery, our catalogue, by filling in the form below.

You don’t need to complete every field to find a record.

Searching is free, but there may be a charge to download documents.

What information do the records contain?

The muster rolls include details of the sailors, soldiers and passengers of each vessel.

The details recorded for each individual vary from book to book.

Most entries include:

  • name
  • rating (rank)
  • place of birth
  • nationality
  • monthly salary
  • embarkation/disembarkation dates
  • offences committed and punishments inflicted
  • promotions and demotions
  • transfer of personnel between vessels

You might also find details of:

  • desertions
  • unusual events, such as attendance at Napoleon’s coronation
  • lists of army units aboard (for example the 67th Infantry aboard Scipion)

What do the records look like?

Mont Blanc muster roll

Mont Blanc muster roll

An example from the Mont-Blanc muster roll is shown on the right.

Although involvement in the battle had been minimal, deaths, injuries and sickness are recorded in these documents, including the names of those who were killed at Trafalgar.

The records reveal that there were a number of nationalities aboard the French ships at their time of capture.

Although involvement in the battle had been minimal, deaths, injuries and sickness are recorded in these documents, including the names of those who were killed at Trafalgar.

The records reveal that there were a number of nationalities aboard the French ships at their time of capture.

Eyewitness Account – the helmsman’s log

One of the documents seized from the Mont-Blanc was a helmsman’s log which covers the period of 16 September 1805 to 4 November 1805.

The helmsman’s log was recorded at four to six hourly intervals as the fighting was taking place and this is the first time there has been access to an eyewitness account from behind the French line.

The record also provides an account of the French response to Strachan’s actions and subsequent capture.

You can also download the helmsman’s log in full (in French) or read a transcript of key entries (in French) or an English translation below.

Helmsman’s Log transcript in English (PDF, 0.06MB)

Helmsman’s Log transcript in French (PDF, 0.07MB)

Calendar conversions for French muster rolls

The records can include French Revolutionary Calendar dates. Consult the table below to convert the calendar dates.

French revolutionary calendar Converted date
12 Brumaire 14 3 November 1805
11 Brumaire 14 2 November 1805
10 Brumaire 14 1 November 1805
9 Brumaire 14 31 October 1805
8 Brumaire 14 30 October 1805
7 Brumaire 14 29 October 1805
6 Brumaire 14 28 October 1805
5 Brumaire 14 27 October 1805
4 Brumaire 14 26 October 1805
3 Brumaire 14 25 October 1805
2 Brumaire 14 24 October 1805
1 Brumaire 14 23 October 1805
30 Vendemiare 14 22 October 1805
29 Vendemiare 14 21 October 1805
28 Vendemiare 14 20 October 1805
27 Vendemiare 14 19 October 1805
26 Vendemiare 14 18 October 1805
25 Vendemiare 14 17 October 1805
24 Vendemiare 14 16 October 1805
23 Vendemiare 14 15 October 1805
22 Vendemiare 14 14 October 1805
21 Vendemiare 14 13 October 1805
20 Vendemiare 14 12 October 1805
19 Vendemiare 14 11 October 1805
18 Vendemiare 14 10 October 1805
17 Vendemiare 14 9 October 1805
16 Vendemiare 14 8 October 1805
15 Vendemiare 14 7 October 1805
14 Vendemiare 14 6 October 1805
13 Vendemiare 14 5 October 1805
12 Vendemiare 14 4 October 1805
11 Vendemiare 14 3 October 1805
10 Vendemiare 14 2 October 1805
9 Vendemiare 14 1 October 1805
8 Vendemiare 14 30 September 1805
7 Vendemiare 14 29 September 1805
6 Vendemiare 14 28 September 1805
5 Vendemiare 14 27 September 1805
4 Vendemiare 14 26 September 1805
3 Vendemiare 14 25 September 1805
2 Vendemiare 14 24 September 1805
1 Vendemiare 14 23 September 1805
5 Sans-culottide 13 22 September 1805
4 Sans-culottide 13 21 September 1805
3 Sans-culottide 13 20 September 1805
2 Sans-culottide 13 19 September 1805
1 Sans-culottide 13 18 September 1805
30 Fructidor 13 17 September 1805
29 Fructidor 13 16 September 1805
28 Fructidor 13 15 September 1805
27 Fructidor 13 14 September 1805
26 Fructidor 13 13 September 1805
25 Fructidor 13 12 September 1805
24 Fructidor 13 11 September 1805
23 Fructidor 13 10 September 1805
22 Fructidor 13 9 September 1805
21 Fructidor 13 8 September 1805
20 Fructidor 13 7 September 1805
19 Fructidor 13 6 September 1805
18 Fructidor 13 5 September 1805
17 Fructidor 13 4 September 1805
16 Fructidor 13 3 September 1805
15 Fructidor 13 2 September 1805
14 Fructidor 13 1 September 1805
13 Fructidor 13 31 August 1805
12 Fructidor 13 30 August 1805
11 Fructidor 13 29 August 1805
10 Fructidor 13 28 August 1805
9 Fructidor 13 27 August 1805
8 Fructidor 13 26 August 1805
7 Fructidor 13 25 August 1805
6 Fructidor 13 24 August 1805
5 Fructidor 13 23 August 1805
4 Fructidor 13 22 August 1805
3 Fructidor 13 21 August 1805
2 Fructidor 13 20 August 1805
1 Fructidor 13 19 August 1805