CLIP finding aids
The CLIP finding aids contain indexes to help find records
of ships and seafarers.
Links to the indexes are to the left. This page details:
How the finding aids can help your research
There are two main difficulties for researchers in tracking down
individual vessels and seafarers: finding the official number of a vessel, and finding where the records
for a particular vessel are held.
There are several other indexes but please note that
these finding aids do not include the CLIP index of crew list entries -
this is available online at
- Finding the official number is important because both The National Archives and the Maritime History
Archive use them to identify vessels. They do this with good reason - the number is a unique
identifier which avoids difficulties to do with changes of name and port of registry,
to say nothing of spelling variations and transcription errors. For the same reason,
we have used the official number as the key to several of our finding aids, so the
index of vessels by name is the starting point because it provides
a list of possible official numbers.
- To find the records for a vessel, the finding aids include a detailed index of the crew lists held at
local record offices around the United Kingdom, drawn from the CLIP project and the catalogues of
individual record offices. They also include an index of the crew lists held at The National Archives.
Abbreviations and conventions
We have used these abbreviations:
AS - Archives Service; RO - Record Office; CAS - County Archive Service;
CRO - County Record Office; MNHL - Manx National Heritage Library;
MNL - Mercantile Navy List; NAI - National Archives of Ireland;
NELA - North East Lincolnshire Archives, Grimsby;
RSS - Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff; TNA - The National Archives
Abbreviations frequently occur in port of registry names, including:
BC - British Columbia; CB - Cape Breton; NB - New Brunswick;
NH - New Hebrides; NP - New Providence; NS - Nova Scotia;
NSW - New South Wales; NWT - North West Territories; NZ - New Zealand;
PEI - Prince Edward Island; RG - River Gambia;
Vessel names were transcribed 'as seen' during the CLIP project, with the exception that
names which included 'and' were standardised to '&' as in 'Jane & Mary' and St is standardised as Saint. Some of
the names which we have taken from elsewhere have not yet been standardised in this way.
For vessel names of this sort, it would be sensible to use the fuzzy searching facilities
when searching the data.
Where the name of a port is shown against a vessel, this is its port of registry (or 'home port' if that
is how it has been referred to in a publication). At least some of the shipping records for that
port should be available at the local record office.
Where data is taken from shipping registers, the folio number within the register is included
if we know it. If the same vessel turns up twice in the same register volume, it usually indicates that
the vessel was re-registered and so does have two entries in that volume.
Where data has been taken from crew lists, a range of dates indicates the earliest and
latest dates for which there are lists, but not necessarily that they exist
for all the included dates. Refer to the CLIP index of crew lists at record offfices for more detail.
Where crew lists are shown against a record office, but with no dates, you will have to refer to the
record office itself for more information.
In referring to publications, we have used a convention of:
We do not, at present, include the publisher's name or town, but we hope the above will be enough
to identify the publication concerned.
- Author(s) name(s),
- Date of publication,
- (Title of article if in a journal),
- Publication title,
- (Volume and/or Number if in a journal).
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Sources and limitations of the indexes
The sources for this data are:
The data in these indexes is not comprehensive or definitive. For example, while we have
catalogues of crew lists for a substantial proportion of the local record offices which are known
to hold them, we do not, at present, have complete or even partial catalogues from some record offices
(neither do they, in some cases!). The absence of entries for a particular vessel therefore does not mean
that they do not exist - in the case of crew lists, for example, you should check with the relevant record office.
- The crew lists held at the 40+ local record offices which hold them, either as direct
transcription during the CLIP project or from the record office's own catalogue, some of which
are now on line;
- Shipping and fishing registers, most of which is taken from the transcriptions which just
a few record offices have made of their documents;
- The Mercantile Navy List;
- The Appropriation Books at the Registry of Ships and Seamen in Cardiff;
- Publications - at present just a few books and journals, mostly related to Welsh shipping
(a bias which is likely to continue!).
All CLIP transcription was checked, but we have not attempted to check data from on-line catalogues, for example.
Where records have been taken from publications, we have accepted the author's data without further checks, beyond
checking the accuracy of our transcription.
The data has been compiled through the efforts of many archivists and volunteers, which we are glad to
acknowledge. Please see our acknowledgements page for more details.
We have made every effort to ensure that we have permission from all the relevant parties to publish data in this
format. If we have inadvertently failed to do so, please bring this to our attention so that we can put
Please note that this data is provided for private research purposes only: do not publish it in any form
without permission. As well as the inevitable errors, the data includes one or two spurious items to
make it identifiable. Some are obvious, some are not, but they are unlikely to impede normal research.
Of course, while we have made efforts to check the accuracy of the data reproduced here, we cannot accept
liability for losses that users may incur through using these finding aids. It is basic research practice to
check out the original sources yourself!
Please bring any errors to our attention.