Other seafaring certificates

Online exhibition 

Merchant Navy material from the Maritime Archives and Library

Agent and Surgeon for Sick and Wounded Seamen, Port of Liverpool to Thomas Holding, 1795 (DX/991).This document certifies that Thomas Holding was rejected as a volunteer to serve in His Majesty's Navy having been found 'unfit for his Majesty's Sea Service from deafness by abscess in right ear'. Certificate of Protection from Impress for James Howard, dated 8th May 1815 (DX/102).As a rigger of sails and masts James Howard had a skill that the authorities recognised was important and so he was protected from impressment during a period when the Royal Navy was looking for men to help in the fight against Napoleon. Cover of Argentine Immigration Identification Certificate for William Gerrard, British Mercantile Marine, dated 5 May 1914, allowing successive visits (DX/274). Seafarers working lives were much improved if they were able to leave the ship when it was in port.  In the days when cargo and fuel was loaded manually, a ship could be in port for several days or even weeks.  The paperwork required to go ashore varied between countries, but in the case of Argentina (a popular destination for the meat trade), it required an identification card to be completed.  The card provides a wealth of detail about the individual, including parents' names, and a photograph. Argentine Immigration Identification Certificate for William Gerrard, British Mercantile Marine, dated 5 May 1914, allowing successive visits (DX/274). Seafarers working lives were much improved if they were able to leave the ship when it was in port.  In the days when cargo and fuel was loaded manually, a ship could be in port for several days or even weeks.  The paperwork required to go ashore varied between countries, but in the case of Argentina (a popular destination for the meat trade), it required an identification card to be completed.  The card provides a wealth of detail about the individual, including parents' names, and a photograph. Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) training course certificates of Cecil F Lock (DX/259). DEMS courses were held at Britain's major ports and gave instruction in the operation and maintenance of guns and other defensive equipment installed on merchant ships during wartime, see our information sheet on DEMS gunners for more details. Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) training course certificates of Cecil F Lock (DX/259). DEMS courses were held at Britain's major ports and gave instruction in the operation and maintenance of guns and other defensive equipment installed on merchant ships during wartime, see our information sheet on DEMS Gunners for more details. Certified copy of a entry in the Marine Register Book of Births, recording the birth of John Burns Granton Grundell, aboard the ship 'Granton', to William Grundell, master, and his wife Rose on 8 June 1870 (DX/971).Masters were required by the introduction of civil registration in 1837 and by later legislation to record births and deaths that occurred at sea and pass this information onto the General Registry Office.  Events were recorded in the ship's log, as in this example, or on an official form (B & D1).  Note that John has been given the name of the vessel as one of his middle names.

As well as holding certificates to prove their service record and qualifications, seafarers accumulated other certificates that give some insight into life at sea.

For example, the first two certificates shown here would have been worth holding onto and show evidence of much folding and unfolding. They are both designed to protect the holder from forced recruitment into the Royal Navy. 

Also featured are two Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) training course certificates. See our DEMS information sheet| for more details.