Search for ships pre-1855 by name

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This page is an index of ships by name drawn from the primary records of British shipping prior to 1855.

All British ships were registered at one of the hundreds of ports of registry around Britain and the then British Colonies. The documents relating to them, including the crew lists and agreements are now at The National Archives (TNA).

The index shows the ships' names and ports of registry, with links to other data such as the crew list holdings and with clear references to the sources of our data.

For a full explanation of the records of British shipping, please see our information page: Records of British ships

How to search for ships pre-1855 by name

On the search form, enter at least three letters of the ship's name and select whether you wish to make an Exact match search, or a fuzzy search based on whether the name Starts with this, Includes this or Ends with this. The form will not accept wild-card searches using '*', '%', '?' and suchlike.

Then click

Reading the results

For exact searches, the results show the ships' ports of registry.

For the fuzzy searches, the results show an alphabetic list of possible ship names, from which you can select one to go to an exact search result.

The results show a list of registry details, together with other details such as tonnage. Some data sources show the official number which was allocated from 1855 onwards and which we include as a convenient link to data for the ship post-1855.

Any available details of the register closure are shown.

The source of our information is shown. In some cases, the icons link to images of the Appropriation Books which show data for ships registered pre-1855. You can check our data for yourself.

On the right-hand side of the page, there are further links.

provides details of the crew list holdings at TNA for ships of that name and port (with further links to the FamilySearch films online). Be aware The TNA catalogue shows only the range of names held in each box. There is no guarantee that there will be records for a particular ship.

links to the CLIP advanced search pages which will show any data we have for ships post-1855 of that name and port. Be aware Because that search is by name and port, these are only tentative suggestions - the ship may have ceased to exist, or her port of registry may have changed.

Data sources

The sources of the data are:

Please see our general information page CLIP data for details on sources, methodology, the abbreviations we have used, and our acknowledgements.

Be aware! CLIP data is transcribed 'as seen' - we have not tried to interpret or correct it (but see note about BT 111 in the Data sources section). Where we have doubts about an item, or have edited it, we mark it with a  ? .

Don't use wild cards such as *, % or ?.

Use the search choices to make fuzzy searches.

Please choose how to match your text:
Then click here: