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CGs' & Seamen's Tickets
I have recently taken a subscription to ‘Find My Past’ (FMP), the pay to view genealogy website. While I was aware that many men in the Royal Navy had been issued with a Merchant Navy ‘Seamen’s Ticket’, I had not fully appreciated that the same was true of men in the Coastguard Service. In a number of instances the men working at the same CG Station had been issued with consecutively numbered tickets.

I am currently in the process of trying to establish which men on my ‘CG’s in the Crimea’ database have Seamen’s Tickets, updating and adding additional information as appropriate. In doing so I was struck by the fact that perhaps this was an untapped resource for those researching their CG ancestors.

I use as an example the information held on CG William Adams, who served on HMS James Watt during the Crimean War:

Seamen’s Ticket No. 266,399
Born at: St.Stephen’s,
County: Cornwall – 10 day of September 1815
Capacity: Mariner in Revenue Cutter
Height: 5 feet 7 ins – Hair: Brown
Complexion: Fresh – Eyes: Blue
Marks: W A on left arm. 2 anchors on right
First went to sea: Boy
In the year: 1830
Has served in the Royal Navy: 4 years 10 months
Has been in Foreign Service: No
When unemployed resides at: Stonehouse
Issued at: Plymouth, 31 day July 1845
Can write: yes

Adjacent to this information in one of the columns it notes: CG Mariner Rev. Cruiser ‘Harpy’ Plymouth Dist.

Now I’m not on commission from FMP, but I would strongly suggest that it’s well worth looking at their ‘Merchant Navy Seamen 1835 – 1941’ records to see if your man is listed, particularly since a search is free!

Edited by crimea1854 on 02/07/2012 22:07

Thank you for this pointer to a really useful source of information. There are details in these records which would be difficult to find elsewhere. (and yes, my Ballycastle-born ancestor Hugh McCaughan turned up here!)

I notice that for some coastguards, the entry under “First went to sea as:” reads “App” (for apprentice I think). What is that likely to mean?


I'm please the lead has been fruitful, and I think you are right re the 'App' entry, which suggests he was indentured to a ships master when he first went to sea at 16.

Much of the information on the Seamen's Tickets is similar to that contained in the Ship's Description Books of men who served in the Royal Navy. However, these books do not give actual dates of birth, and for those CGs who never saw service in the navy the tickets could be the only source for such information.

Thanks Martin

I’ve been speculating how and why Hugh McCaughan, apparently from a farming background, came to enlist in the Coastguard. This seems to suggest a possible answer - that he had some sort of experience as a seaman. Given that his birthplace is on the coast, this seems quite feasible.

Hi Martin

I'd just like to add my thanks for your highlighting this source. It will be very useful for anyone doing CG research in the mid 19th century.

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