Photograph of a merchant navy officer

This is a brief guide to researching records of officers in the Merchant Navyterm for ships that transport cargo or passengers during peacetime and are auxiliaries to the Royal Navy in times of conflict. Until 1845 there was no system of registration of merchant navy officers, so records which might incidentally make mention of them must be used to trace them. After 1845, there are alphabetical registers and registers of certificateslistings of certificates awarded to merchant seamen for passing exams or for long service which might help. You might also find information about the officer by searching the records of ordinary merchant seamen.

  • What do I need to know before I start?

    • Try to find out:

      • the dates during which the officer served
      • the name of his ship
      • his ship's official number (obtainable from the Crew List Index Project)