A-Z Challenge 2020 – Specialised Studies B is for Boats and Ships

Created by Julie Goucher using wordclouds.com March 2020

In the pursuit of our ancestors we may well discover they are connected in some way to boats or ships and by way of extension, researching the vessels can add something to their individual history.

A long time ago I had to write to Lloyd’s of London for some material on a ship that had taken my Ellis ancestors from England to Australia. The vessel was the James Baines and the year, 1854.

These days, unsurprisingly, the material can be found online in a variety of places and formats, but linked from the Lloyd’s website as part of their Archive and Library section. It is truly a fantastic resource for any historian or genealogist.

Sadly, not all vessels make it back to their home port. The National Archives, here in England has a useful section on their site about wrecked ships or sunk and it would be possible to also scan newspaper reports to see if that provides any useful information.

TipJust because something now does not appear to be useful, does not mean it won’t in the future, so I always record the information in my research log.

There are also other fascinating sites, but first it is useful to note the difference between the various ship classifications.

There are also numerous other websites which can add material and information to your research and I have listed some below:

Not all boats are large, in fact I wondered what the criteria was for the term of small boat as what I think of as small boat might not actually be the true definition. I did eventually establish that the register for small boats is those under 33 foot.

Then we have canal boats – this page on The National Archives site might be useful, as might this site called The Boat Index

Over the years, the Guild of One-Name Studies seminar program may well have covered some of these sites or contain material connected to the topic of boats and ships. The Sunderland Trade & Industry seminar in 2018 had a presentation on ship building. Those with access to the members room may well wish to listen to that presentation or search the numerous others available.

HMS Byron

HMS Byron taking the German U Boat fleet surrender at Scappa

My late father in law served in the Arctic Convoys, as part of the 21st Escort group on board HMS Byron. At the end of the war, he was on board when the ship was sailed back to the United States.

The last remaining vessel from this period, which saw service in the Arctic Convoys is docked on the Thames and available for visitors. You can read about HMS Belfast here

Taking part in the A-Z Challenge for 2020

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge 2020 - Specialised Studies, Genealogy, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Specialised Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A-Z Challenge 2020 – Specialised Studies B is for Boats and Ships

  1. Great collection of resouces. Need to add them to my reading list. 🙂


  2. Dianne says:

    Wonderful resources! There were also Marine Pilots who were expert in piloting thru their local waters and they were used by many big boats, as even if they had charts they were not always accurate as things changed! There are Pilotage records for many countries.
    My husband and a friend sailed a 40’ ketch from Vancouver to Hawaii… took 25 days at sea. I flew and met him there haha!


  3. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Wow, that is a super comprehensive list of resources! Appreciate the research that has gone into this post, kudos!

    Till my grandfather’s time, all overseas travel was on ships. I come from a place which is all rivers and delta and coastline, 90% water, the ship/boat connection is deep. Road/air transport is a very recent thing, formerly the rivers were the highways. In some places they still are.


  4. mollyscanopy says:

    Wow, this is great! I need to stop back after A to Z. I have an ancestor who supposedly arrived in NY harbor the day Lincoln was shot. It’s on my bucket list to find her ship.


  5. BookerTalk says:

    This post is a great resource Julie. I have a few ship related people in my own study. Do you know if any of the shipping lines have their records on line? I have one individual who was an officer on the White Star Line


  6. Wow, this is great! Have to bookmark to return after A to Z is over. I have a great, great grandmother who supposedly landed in NY harbor the day Lincoln was assassinated — it’s on my bucked list to find her ship. These tips should help 🙂


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