Find your ancestors in London, Watermen, List Of Free Watermen, 1827

Did you ancestor work on the River Thames as a waterman? Search this mini census of watermen from 1827. The list includes the names of 5,448 watermen trading in London.

Each entry of the 1827 list of free watermen has been transcribed into individual records. The detail in each record can vary, but most will include the following information:

  • Name – In circumstances where there are generations of men found in the records, the names are distinguished by ordinals after the first name. For example, the Croxford family displays Peter 1st, Peter 2nd and Peter 3rd.
  • Age
  • Birth year
  • Date
  • Number on list
  • Notes – These were created by the individual who transcribed the records and will refer to any information missing from the record.

Discover more about these records

The transcripts were created from the 1827 list of watermen. The list is considered a mini census of watermen. More than 5,400 names are recorded, which is evidence that work as a waterman was a sizeable trade at that time. To trade as a waterman in London, one needed to have a license and be a member of The Company of Watermen.

The Company of Watermen was established in 1555 by an act of Parliament, during the reign of Queen Mary. The company helped to regulate and standardise apprenticeship of watermen and fares for journeys on the River Thames. Watermen were responsible for transporting individuals along the River Thames from Gravesend to Windsor. It was common to see many watermen on the river, taking passengers across the Thames or to another plying place or stairs along the riverside. Watermen would also transport merchants and seamen to and from their vessels.

Initially, an apprenticeship would last one year, then in 1603, apprenticeship for a waterman was extended to seven years. In 1700, the company was extended to lightermen and The Company of Watermen and Lightermen was established. Lightermen transported goods along the river by a lighter, a type of flat bottom barge.