The muster rolls are filed alphabetically by port under name of ship in one run for the years 1835-1844. With the introduction in 1845 of a system of register tickets for merchant seamen a record of the ticket numbers was attached to the crew list: from here on the documents are kept in separate yearly runs. With the introduction in 1855 of a central registry all ships were given an official number as soon as practicable. From 1857 the agreements are filed under official numbers rather than alphabetically.
Crew documents of celebrated ships are in series BT 100.
Port Numbers and other numerical codes used in the Records of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen:
Five major schedules are to be found amongst the agreements and crew lists from 1835, namely:
- Schedule: A, Type: Agreement (Foreign Trade), Filing requirements: Within 24 hours of return to a UK port;
- Schedule: B, Type: Agreement (Home Trade), Filing requirements: Within 30 days after the end of each half year (30 June and 31 December);
- Schedule: C, Type: List of Crew (Foreign Trade), Filing requirements: Within 24/48 hrs of return to a UK port;
- Schedule: D, Type: Account of Voyages and Crew (Home Trade), Filing requirements: Within 21 days after the end of each half-year;
- Schedule: G, Type: Names & Register Tickets of Crew (Foreign Trade), Filing requirements: On sailing from the UK;
Pertinent information was annotated on these schedules and entered in the relevant registers of service.
Port Rotation Numbers:
It should be noted that whilst a Port Rotation Number was used to uniquely identify a ship within its Port of Registry, no key to these numbers has been discovered. Thus, whilst it does confirm that the correct schedules have been found, it cannot now be used as an effective finding aid.
From 1835-1844, Port Numbers were used as a shorthand for a ship's Port of Registry; numbers 1-108 were used during this period. Ships with other home ports in the UK, were in fact registered at a nearby one of these 108 ports, and thus the crew lists for them will be found under that port of registry (e.g.. Shields based ships were registered at Newcastle). After 1845, new UK Ports of Registry were gradually introduced, and Port Numbers 109-130 and 147-152 apply to these.
Port Numbers were also used, from 1845, to designate the port at which the various schedules were filed, and all the numbers 1-152 were used for this purpose.
Port Numbers 200-299 all apply to ships registered at Colonial ports, and their schedules are filed together by year.
In various other places, in the records of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Port Numbers were used as a shorthand for the name of the port - all numbers apply.