Using the image viewer for the Appropriation Books
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You can change the magnification of the image by clicking the and
To copy, print or process an image, right-click on the image, copy it, paste it into your favourite image viewer and work on it from there. Please use the images for private research only and do not re-publish the images.
For more details of official numbers and the Appropriation Books, please see:
When the system of official numbers began on 16 April 1855, the British Ports of Registry were each allocated batches of official numbers. For official numbers up to 22200 you can see this allocation as a pencil note at the top of the page where the allocation began. A summary of the first allocation is shown here:
Initial allocation of official numbers
Later allocations were made to ports on request, with no particular sequence, and these allocations can be seen as an annotation in the margin, particularly in the later books.
The ship names recorded are those that the ships carried at the time that their official numbers were allocated - changes are sometimes noted, but the best source for changes of name are the shipping registers for the port, or alternatively the Mercantile Navy List.
Bear in mind that the ships names in the Appropriation Books are not the definitive name or spelling of the name, even though these are the central records for the whole system.
As you can see, the entries are hand-written and derived from hand-written returns made by the various ports, themselves based on the hand-written shipping registers, based on what
the port officials thought the person registering the ship was saying or had hand-written down.
As you will also see, some of the entries are badly written and the earlier ones use Victorian script, so individual letters may be hard to decipher - u and n, c and e,
for example can look similar. There are also instances of 'fs' used for double-s and the capital Q can look like a 2. For more assistance with reading the writing, please see:
Reading the writing
The clerks who entered the data in the Appropriation Books had a few quirks of their own. In some cases, they entered details out of order, and then put things right by re-numbering the entries, or even by adding a cross to show the records should be swapped.
Especially in the first volume, there are frequent margin annotations against the entries which (if you can decipher them) can provide information on the ultimate fate of the ship. Typical
entries are 'Lost as per cert[ificate] 20/6/58' or 'Sold foreigners per advice 8/4/67'. Beware - it is sometimes not easy to see which entry it refers to. However, these annotations may be a useful quick alternative to consulting the original Shipping Registers.
The Appropriation Books are in a slightly fragile state - some of the bindings are tight, while others are quite loose, so we had to be especially careful in handling them for photography.
As a result, some of the entries in the gutter margin may not be visible. If you particularly want to see that data, it may be visible on the next page and we've cropped the images loosely to keep that part of the page visible where possible. You can see the next page by entering an official number 50 greater or less than the one you are interested in.
Image sources and acknowledgements
The images were made by CLIP from the original volumes held at the Registry of Shipping and Seamen in Cardiff and we would like to thank the staff for their helpfulness in providing us with access to the volumes.
We have published the images as an aid to private research - please use them only for that purpose, and do not re-publish them.