seek researching your family history? seek

You may be researching about a relative who sailed with Elder Dempster Lines or British and Burmese SNCo ("Paddy Henderson" Line), or who was a passenger. Although I am not able to help you directly as my own, fairly limited, records are only those that relate to my own time with the company I can point you in some useful directions......

Elder Dempster Lines - Histories

Key resources are listed on the Elder Dempster company history page on this website

Fleet Lists

Details of the fleet lists of Elder Dempster Lines, together with those ships absorbed from British and Burmese Steam Navigation Company and of Guinea Gulf Line, are on this website.

The Elder Dempster Archive

Some of the company records went to the maritime museum in Liverpool, but much of the Elder Dempster records were lost in May 1941 when the head office of India Buildings was gutted by fire during an air raid on Liverpool. Look at the information sheet from the museum, which gives details of the Elder Dempster Archive. The museum website gives more general information, together with contact details.

National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum holds useful information, including research guides relating to the Merchant Navy.

The National Archives

Much information and detail is available through The National Archives (Public Record Office).

Merchant Navy research guides can be searched and there is also the comprehensive book -

MN records Records of Merchant Shipping and Seamen
Public Record Office Readers' Guide No 20
K Smith, C T Watts, and M J Watts
first published 1998, reprinted 2001
Public Record Office
ISBN 1 873162 49 9

All Merchant Navy officers and seamen have an identity number - the Discharge Number, often referred to in documents as the Dis.A. number, a six digit number (later prefixed by a letter R) - together with a document entitled Seamen's Record Book and Certificates of Discharge (usually known as their Discharge Book), and also a British Seaman's Card. All would have to sign on Articles for each ship they sailed on, irrespective of whether they were company employees or not.

Society of Genealogists

The Society of Genealogists publishes a range of useful works, including -

MN records My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman
C Watts and M J Watts
second edition, 2002
Society of Genealogists
ISBN 1 903462 51 5

Guildhall Library, London

The Marine History (Printed Books section) of Guildhall Library cares for the major part of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection, the other part of the collection being held in the Manuscripts Section. The Lloyd’s Marine Collection is a major resource for merchant shipping records from the eighteenth century to the late twentieth century (this latter date is not fixed as Lloyd’s has deposited material for a series of different dates).

There is a published guide to the Lloyd’s Marine Collection, Lloyd’s Marine Collection and Related Marine Sources at Guildhall Library, which can be obtained from the Guildhall Library Bookshop.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The duties of the CWGC are to mark and maintain the graves of service personnel (including those of the Merchant Navy), to build and maintain Memorials to those who had no known grave, and to keep detailed registers. One of the guiding principles is that each of the dead should be commemorated individually by name, either on a headstone or on a Memorial. The CWGC website can be searched to trace an individual, and to locate their grave or the Memorial on which they are commemorated.

Merchant Navy Memorial

The Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill in London lists the names of almost 12,000 merchant seamen from the Great War who have no grave but the sea, together with almost 24,000 names from the War of 1939-1945. The register of those commemorated on the Memorial can be searched on the CWGC website.

and finally

The various links to other websites from this Elder Dempster website may be useful, and general information on tracing your family history can be found on the BBC website.



all text © Mike Ingham
book cover © publishers and authors
The History of Elder Dempster © Paul Wood - Rakaia.co.uk
Elder Dempster Lines House Flag © Elder Dempster Lines

EDL Elder Dempster Lines page

this page last updated 28 January 2017

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