Are you a descendent of Tudor seaman?

Cowdray Engaving-detail of sinking genealogy

Henry 8th’s flagship the Mary Rose was spectacularly raised from the seabed off of Portsmouth, Hampshire in 1982, anyone who watched the moments as the wreck broke through the water will remember the awful shock as one of the supports failed and it seemed as if she would go back to her watery grave. However the salvage was successful and the immense task of preservation started.

A museum has been built around the remains and this is now open to the public. Interpreting what has been found is an on going task and one area which is drawing some attention is that scientists are attempting to extract DNA from the bones discovered inside the ship. Ten skulls have had facial reconstruction so we can see what they looked like, but just who were they?

Remains of 179 individuals were found inboard, mostly male and under the age of 30 years. The position within the ship gives an idea of their tasks aboard. This will be a fascinating project for genealogists to watch and will once more bring family history and DNA to the forefront of the news.

The image above is a detail of the Cowdray Engraving showing the sinking of the Mary Rose on 19 July 1545. Based on an original painted between 1545 and 1548 for Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse.

Navy Lists 1888 – 1970

Navy Lists 1888 -1970


The Navy List is the officially published list of Royal Navy Officers, publication started in 1819. Those who were officers (commissioned and warrant) in the Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserves including the New Zealand branch, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal Naval College of Music, Royal Marines, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Services, Coast Guard and other branches of the senior service will be listed here.

Details that will be found in this dataset will be –

  • Name
  • Rank
  • Seniority
  • Decorations & Awards

The data is grouped in a variety of ways, by –

  • Rank
  • Ship
  • Pensioners
  • Retired Officers

Additional information on Royal Humane Society medal awards, Naval Regulations, Members of Boards, Vessels for sale and much more.

The data is indexed and may also be browsed by year of publication. A very useful database for those with ancestors who heeded the call of the sea.

Online Military Library

Forces War Records

Just received a press release from Dominic Hayhoe of Forces War Records about the launch of a their new digital library of historic documents, books, newspapers and magazines, some more than a hundred years old.

Dominic Hayhoe from Forces War Records said “Whilst we’ve been adding records as fast as we can to the main site, we’ve collated a huge amount of books, newspapers and magazines that although they don’t have name records in, are invaluable for research purposes with details about regiments, battles, medals, individual daring escapades and general interest stories.

Some of these magazines alone are almost a hundred clip_image002years old and not only did we feel our members would love to read them, but that they were also a national treasure that shouldn’t be lost. Now we have digitised them, they will be available for ever more”.

He went on to say “In addition, as ever, we haven’t just added these to our site, but we have also automatically crossed matched them with all our other data, so if you perform a search for a relative on the site who say served in The Royal Tank Regiment, our system will automatically look to see if we have any articles related to the regiment your ancestor served in as well.”

Masters & Mates Certificates now online

Masters & Mates Certificates genealogyGreat news for those with maritime ancestors, has added another dataset to their Occupations Collection, this time it is Masters & Mates certificates 1850 – 1927. As England is an island nation I am sure that most of us have some ancestral connection to the sea and these records will help fill in the details of our families lives.

The certificates may vary slightly, but generally they contain the date of the certificate (they were also know as tickets), the mariners name, where and when they were born, how many years in the merchant navy, which type of experience they had e.g. coasting and lastly the mariners signature.  All great family history information.


Crew List Index Project

Came across this on my travels around the internet CLIP which stands for Crew List Index Project concerns itself with merchant seafarers on British registered ships for the years 1861 to 1913.

This site provides guidance and finding aids to help you carry out your own research. The index itself is on FindMyPast, but this site might be a good place to start as it explains what crew list are and what you might find on them. Where the originals are held and finding aids are also included.

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