The official place of deposit for records of the Royal Navy is The National Archives at Kew. However, the Archive and Library has many complementary resources which will assist in researching the history, service and crew of Royal Naval ships.
Photographic copies of official manuscript records, these cover movements of Royal Navy ships (also vessels of the Royal Australian, Canadian and Indian Navies) during World War II. They include vessels on government service down to trawlers but not landing craft, hired vessels or troopships. The books are in two sequences arranged alphabetically by name of ship: one for surviving vessels, another for those sunk. While details vary, they include sailings, convoy numbers, repairs, and incidents such as crews rescued from torpedoed vessels.
This series covers the years 1688-1808. Bound within musters of particular ships are description books which record the previous service, birthplace, and a physical description of each crew member. The entire series (not published here) contains 17,471 volumes.
The presence of the women was largely hidden, for official purposes, as they were not paid or fed by the Navy, and therefore were not entered onto the ships' muster books. However other records, such as order books written by ships' captains, refer to their existence, as do memoirs and records of courts martial.
During the 1801 Egyptian campaign, over 60 Royal Navy vessels carried and escorted 12,000 troops to Aboukir Bay, Egypt, in an attempt to drive French forces out of Egypt. Out of every 100 men, three soldiers were allowed to bring their wives, which meant that there were at least 360 women in the fleet, as well as their children. These women and children are recorded in the ships' muster books. For instance the muster book of HMS Charon records that there were 30 women and 20 children onboard 'belonging to the 30th Regiment [now the Queen's Lancashire Regiment]'.
Two other women from the army regiments from the 1801 expedition were recorded to have died on board the ships moored in Aboukir Bay. One was Mrs Lambe, of the 3rd Guards Regiment (now the Scots Guards), and the other was Sarah Webber of the Coldstream Guards. Any one of these could have merited the mysterious 'G' (standing perhaps for 'Goliath' or 'Guards').
With increasing attention being given to greenhouse gas emissions arising from burning fossil fuels for international air and marine transport, particularly dirty bunker fuel for the latter, and the excellent safety record of nuclear-powered ships, it is quite conceivable that renewed attention will be given to marine nuclear powered ships, it is likely that there will be renewed interest in marine nuclear propulsion. The world's merchant shipping is reported to have a total power capacity of 410 GWt, about one-third that of world nuclear power plants.
The Royal Navy First World War Lives at Sea database can be a helpful shortcut to researching ancestors who served in this conflict. It provides a summary of the service record for everyone and can be searched by name, service number, date and place of birth, ships served on, next of kin and many other parameters.
A complete record of the deaths of Scottish seafarers from late Victorian times until 1974, totalling over 14,000 records is available online through the ScotlandsPeople site. Included are the Deaths of Seamen listing Scots along with other crew members of all nationalities who were serving on British-registered vessels, 1909-1974. This includes crewmen on the Titanic.
Examples of the records covering the deaths of seamen on well-known ships, during the Second World War, including the Athenia and Lancastria, can be found amongst our records. To search for deaths at sea, please search within the statutory register of deaths, and select 'minor records' from the drop down menu. For further information about statutory death records, please see our guide.
The records are fairly complete from 1910 to the end of the First World War. Only some of those who served between 1919 and 1941 are included. It is not known why there are no ledger sheets for some people.
With over 260 images, this is a highly illustrated history of the ships and operations of the Royal Navy during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II.During the 70 years spanned by the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Navy changed out of all recognition. Its status as a superpower navy with worldwide bases and operations has been eclipsed, but it remains a powerful force because of its potency if not its size. Maritime history author Paul Brown takes us through each decade in turn, outlining the key events and developments, and charting the changes to the size, structure and capabilities of the Navy. Fully illustrated with over 260 colour and black and white images, this book also provides a stunning visual record of the ships and operations that featured most prominently in each decade. 59ce067264