Information sheet

Official Records of Passengers

Sheet number 31

Introduction

Britain made no attempt to record its emigrants or other passengers during the 19th century. The National Archives (PRO) holds some record of aliens arriving in British ports, from the late 18th century onwards amongst its Home Office records, eg HO 3 contains returns of alien passengers made under the Aliens Act, 1836, by masters for voyages made between 1836-1869 (except 1861-1866). Another possible source of information could be the passenger lists of HM steam packets carrying passengers to, from and within the Mediterranean area, 1831 to 1834 (ADM 30/35). (For further information consult the National Archives leaflet, Passenger Lists Domestic Records Information 56 available online at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).

Most records of passengers leaving the UK have not survived or are hidden amongst records of colonial departments. For example, registers of passengers travelling to New England, Barbados and other colonies for 1634-9, and 1677, can be found in the Exchequer: King’s Remembrance: Registers of Licences to pass beyond the seas (E 157). Passenger lists for America in the 1630s can be found in Colonial Office records (CO 1), which also includes registers of cabin passengers emigrating with the New Zealand Company, 1839-1850, (CO 208).  (For further information consult the National Archives leaflet, Passenger Lists Domestic Records Information 56 available on line at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).

Most records of passengers leaving the UK have not survived or are hidden amongst records of colonial departments. For example, registers of passengers travelling to New England, Barbados and other colonies for 1634-1649 and 1677, can be found in the Exchequer: King's Remembrance: Registers of Licences to pass beyond the seas (E 157). Passenger lists for America in the 1630s can be found in Colonial Office records (CO 1), which also includes registers of cabin passengers emigrating with the New Zealand Company, 1839-1850 (CO 208). (See the National Archives leaflet, Passenger Lists Domestic Records Information 56 available online at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).  

A few examples of passenger lists compiled by shipping companies survive in other archive  repositories. These include ones for the Cunard Line, 1840-1853, which are held at Liverpool University (a copy is available on microfilm at the Maritime Archives & Library). The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland holds some passenger records for J & J Cooke, Shipping Agents, for sailings from Londonderry to USA and Canada, 1847-1871. These provide the names of 28,000 Irish passengers. The Maritime Archives & Library holds many examples of souvenir passenger lists, either in shipping company collections or in ephemera collected by the passengers themselves, which date mainly from the 1880s onwards. However, the earliest passenger list in the collection is the list of crew and passengers of the ship Speedwell , Isaac Strickland, master, from Liverpool to Philadelphia, Newfoundland and from hence to Italy, 1769 [D/Earle/1/3].

Board of Trade Passenger Lists at the National Archives

It was only from 1890 that records of passenger arrivals and departures were collected by the Board of Trade. Unfortunately, no complete official lists of passengers exist in any local repositories in the UK. The National Archives holds passenger lists of vessels travelling inwards to and outwards from British ports, including Liverpool, from the 1890s onwards. (A list of ports and years for which such passenger lists survive, may be found in the National Archives publication: Lists and Indexes, Supplementary Series No. XI, Board of Trade Records to 1913 (1964). Copies of this list may be obtainable from the British Library through inter-library loan at major libraries).

The Board of Trade passenger lists are copies provided by the ship’s masters to port officers of the Ministry of Transport and sent to the Board of Trade for use in compiling statistics. They are arranged in two series, one for arrivals (BT 26) and departures (BT 27). Unfortunately, there is no index to the records, either by name or by ship, so the only method of locating information is to know the port of departure/arrival and the year/month. If you only know the name of the ship, you need to consult the Registers of Passenger Lists (BT 32).

Passenger lists do not survive after 1960 when travel by air became more popular, and no air passenger lists are preserved.

Class numbers are as follows:

(BT 26) Passenger Lists Inward  1877 -1960

Only a few lists pre-1890.  Note: no European voyages , officially (some have crept in) but outside Europe voyages sometimes picked up in Europe and these passengers are listed. These lists are available online at www.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=1518

(BT 27) Passenger Lists Outwards  1890 - 1960

Transatlantic vessels normally provide full schedule B returns, giving name, profession, sex, marital status, age box and English/Scottish/Irish (later Welsh) classification. Vessels on other routes often provide just names and a vague destination, eg West Coast Africa. Information is much fuller from 1922 onwards. Full addresses are given for British and alien non-transmigrants. For alien transmigrants (ie those with prepaid through tickets and not first class) no addresses are given, only the country, port of arrival and shipping line that brought them.

The BT 27 record series is available online at www.ancestorsonboard.com and is fully searchable by name, ship, port and date.

(BT 32) Register of Passenger Lists Received 1905 - 1960

For further information consult the National Archives leaflet: Passenger Lists Domestic Records Information 56 available on line at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

Vital events at sea

The National Archives also holds the following sources of information on births, marriages and deaths of passengers at sea:

Class Number

(BT 158) Registers of all births, deaths, marriages at sea.  1854 - 1890

(BT 158) Register of all births and deaths only.  1884 - 1887

(BT 158) Registers of all deaths only.  1888 onwards

British Nationals Only

(BT 160) Registers of births at sea. 1875 - 1891

(BT 159) Registers of deaths at sea.  1875 - 1888

Microfiche copies of registers of marine births and deaths, 1837-1965, are available at Liverpool Record Office, Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool, L3 8EW (Tel: 0151 233 5817; Email: recoffice.central.library@liverpool.gov.uk).

Migration by sea within the British Isles

No official records were ever kept of passengers travelling by sea within the British Isles, including Ireland. A few personal narratives survive, and in rare instances some shipping companies archives may contain information on sailings, etc.

One exception is the magistrate’s registers for the deportation home to Ireland and Scotland from Liverpool.  These cover 1801-1835, and are available at Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston, PR1 2RE (Email: record.office@ed.lancscc.gov.uk). 

Bibliography

BALL, A.  Is Yours an SS Great Britain Family?   Hampshire: Kenneth Mason, 1988

GLAZIER, Ira A.  The Famine Immigrants - List of Irish Immigrants Arriving at the Port of  New York, Vols. I -VII, 1846-1851 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983

Immigration: Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Port Philip, 1839-1851 .  Sydney: Archives Authority of New South Wales, 1976

Immigration: Index to Assisted Immigrants Arriving Moreton Bay (Brisbane), 1848-1859 . Sydney: Archives Authority of New South Wales, 1985

KERSHAW, Roger.  Emigrants and Expats .  London: PRO, 2002

KERSHAW, Roger & PEARSALL, Mark.  Immigrants and Aliens .  London: PRO Publications, 2000

MITCHELL, Brian.  Irish Emigration Lists, 1803-1806 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1995

MITCHELL, Brian (ed).  Irish Emigration Lists, 1833-1839 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1989

MITCHELL, Brian (ed).  Irish Emigration Lists, 1847-1871 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1988

Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals .  Balitmore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1979

SCOTT, Kenneth.  British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812 . Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1979

SCOTT, Kenneth.  Early New York Naturalizations - Abstracts of Naturalization Records from Federal, State and Local Courts, 1792-1840 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981

SKORDAS, Gust.  The Early Settlers of Maryland - An Index to Names of Immigrants  Complied from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1986

TEPPER, Michael H. American Passenger Arrival Records - A Guide to the Records of  Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by Sail and Steam .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1988

TEPPER, Michael H.  New World Immigrants, Vols I-II: a Consolidation of Ship Passenger  Lists and Associated Data from Periodical Literature .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1980

TEPPER, Michael H.  Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia, 1800-1819 .  Baltimore:Genealogical Publishing Co, 1986

TEPPER, Michael H.  Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820-1834 .  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1982

TEPPER, Michael H.  Immigrants to the Middle Colonies - A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated Data from New England Historical and Genealogical Register .  Baltmore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988

WYATT, I. (ed).  Transportees from Gloucestershire to Australia, 1783-1842. Gloucestershire: Alan Sutton, 1988

Useful addresses

The National Archives (PRO)
Ruskin Avenue
Kew, Richmond
Surrey  
TW9 4DU

Tel: 020 8392 5200
Fax: 020 8878 8905

Email: enquiry@nationalarchives.gov.uk
Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland
66 Balmoral Avenue
Belfast
BT9 6NY
Northern Ireland

Tel: +44 (028) 9025 5905 (Public Search Room)
Fax: +44 (028) 9025 5999
Email: proni@dcalni.gov.uk

Ulster-American Folk Park
The Centre for Migration Studies
2 Mellon Rd
Castletown
Omagh, Co Tyrone
Northern Ireland   BT78 5QY

Tel: .028 8225 6315
Fax: 028 8224 2241
Email: CentreMigStudies@ni-libraries.net
Website: www.qub.ac.uk/cms   
 www.folkpark.com

National Archives of Ireland
Bishop Street
Dublin 8
Ireland

Tel: 1407 2300
Fax: 1407 2333

Email: mail@nationalarchives.ie
Website: www.nationalarchives.ie

Details of passengers and crew who travelled through Castle Garden between 1830 and 1892 and Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924 can be found at http://www.castlegarden.org and http:// www.ellisislandrecords.org.

The National Archives of Ireland hold inward passenger arrivals from North America between 1858 and 1870 at http://www.nationalarchives.ie.

Much information relating to emigrants can be found in the national archives at the place of destination. The US National Archives and Records Administration can be located at http://www.archives.gov. For the National Archives of Canada see http://www.archives.ca. For the Australian National Archives see http://www.naa.gov.uk.

A website containing passenger lists inwards between March 1948 and October 1960 which brought Indian and Caribbean migrants to the UK, can be located at http://www.movingthere.org.uk.

Find My Past www.findmypast.com is a website launched by the National Archives with millions of records online. Anyone researching their UK ancestry and family tree can search census records and trace births, marriages and deaths. UK passenger departure lists 1890 to 1960 are being added to the site, currently 1890-1929 are available. The Indexes are available free but you need to buy credits to view the results.

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