Find your ancestors in Ireland Merchant Navy Crew Lists 1857-1922

Discover your seafaring ancestor with the National Archives of Ireland’s Merchant Navy Crew Lists. These indexed records hold the names of thousands of men and women from Galway, Belfast, Dublin, and lands farther away such as Philadelphia, Norway and many more. Crew lists also recorded marriages, engagements, births and deaths at sea.

Each record includes an image of the original record from the National Archives of Ireland and a transcript listing information that can be found on the document. There are various types of records, thus the detail in each transcript can vary. In the transcript you may find the following information:

  • Name
  • Birth date
  • Birth place
  • Event type – crew list, birth, death
  • Vessel name
  • Official number – of the ship
  • Ship’s registry port
  • Source
  • Description
  • Piece and item


The documents consist of multiple pages. The image link will take you to the first page of the document. By using the arrow on the right you can move through the images to read the full document and discover your ancestor.

Each year, a vessel’s master submitted an account of voyages to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS). The account recorded the many ports visited, the crew, and any births or deaths. They also submitted an agreement and account of the crew. Below are some of the details you may find in various parts of the documents.

Account of voyages and crew of home trade ship

An account to be delivered biannual to the shipping master at the listed port, which includes

  • An account of voyages including dates and ports
  • A crew list including birth places, previous ships and reasons for leaving the ship
  • Records of deaths, which included the person’s name, sex, age, date and cause of death, profession or occupation, and parent’s name (if known)
  • Any Certificate of Discharge, which recorded the individual’s birth year and place, capacity, entry date, and discharge date and place

Agreement and account of the crew

  • Name and birth place
  • Last serving ship with dates of service and place of discharge.
  • Date and place of joining current ship
  • Capacity or occupation
  • Wages paid
  • Date, place and reason for leaving current ship – causes can include discharge, injury or death

Discover more about these records

These are the records of the Irish merchant navy held by the National Archives of Ireland. Every year, each ship registered in Ireland had to submit a report to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS), which was responsible for keeping the records for the Merchant Navy. The records are extensive and provided detailed information regarding each crew member. Crew members were not only from Ireland but also from around the world. You will find natives of Norway, Russia, Sweden, America and Germany, to name a few. The records are fully indexed and can be searched easily by name. Prior to this indexing, you would have needed to know the name of the ship your ancestor worked on and the port of registration in order to find your ancestor’s name.

The Ireland Merchant Navy Crew Lists includes thousands of records for female crew members. For family historians, it can be difficult to find early employment records for female ancestors since traditionally women worked in the home. Ships began to employ women as stewardesses in the later part of the nineteenth century. As services on board ships expanded, women were employed as laundresses, matrons, hairdressers, catering personnel and shop assistants. Maritime career opportunities were restricted because women did not receive additional maritime training beyond their assigned roles. Today, women still only make up a small percentage of the maritime work force.