Information sheet

Lloyd's Marine Insurance Records

Sheet number 52

Scope of the collection

Lloyd's of London traces its origins back to a coffee house opened by Edward Lloyd in London in 1688.  At the time of its founder's death in 1713, it had become firmly established as a centre for commercial activity with an association with marine insurance.  In 1760 the underwriters who frequented Lloyd's combined to form an association with the aim of producing a Register Book of Shipping, which was published in 1764.

From 1734 the proprietors of Lloyd's had published Lloyd's List , containing general commercial information and details of vessels arriving at ports in England and Ireland.  A worldwide network of agents developed since 1811 expanded these details further to include information on shipping arrivals in other ports of the world.

In 1834, following a dispute between the marine insurance community and shipowners, resulting in the publication of two rival Register Books, a new Society, Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping was formed, to supervise surveys and publish Lloyd's Register of Shipping , which continues to this day.  The Lloyd's Marine Collection is held by the Guildhall Library in London, but many record offices and special repositories, such as the Maritime Archives & Library, Merseyside Maritime Museum, hold their own sets of Lloyd's Registers, Lloyd's Lists and other Lloyd's publications.  The Lloyd's marine publications described in the following guide, are those which are held at the Maritime Archives & Library, Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Lloyd's Register

Scope for research

The Register is an annual list of vessels, giving details current at the time of publication.  The first surviving issue dates from 1764, and the second, of which only the latter part is extant, from 1786.  From 1775 the series is continuous apart from 1785, 1788 and 1817.  Between 1800 and 1833, as a result of the dispute, two separate registers were produced (the "Red Book" published by the Society of Mainly Shipowners and the "Green Book" by the Society of Underwriters).

Until 1890, the Register was limited to British registered vessels, with the exception of some foreign vessels which regularly traded with the UK.  For a short time (1834-1837) all British vessels of 50 tons and over were included.  This practice became the norm in 1875 when all vessels which had not been surveyed and classed at Lloyd's were included.  Since 1890 all British and foreign sea-going merchant vessels over 100 tons have been added.

The information contained within the registers varies according to the time of publication.  The main categories and years they were included in the registers, are as follows:

  • Name of vessel 1764 -to date
  • Previous names (if any) 1764 -to date
  • Official number 1872/3-to date
  • Signal code 1874-to date
  • Rig/description 1768 -to date
  • Tonnage 1764 -to date
    • gross, net & under-deck 1874/5 -to date
  • Dimensions:
    • load-draught 1775 - 1833
    • length, breadth and depth 1863 -to date
  • Description of engines 1874/5 -to date
  • Date of building 1764 -to date (Green Book gives age, 1800-1833)
  • Place of building 1764 -to date
  • Name of builder 1860 -to date
  • Name of owner 1764 -to date
  • Name of master 1764 - 1920/1 (to 1847 in sailing vessel register)
    • dates of service with owner/on vessel 1887 - 1920/1
  • Number of crew 1764 - 1771
  • Port of registry 1834 -to date
  • Port of survey 1764 -to date
  • Class 1764 -to date
  • 'Postings' of casualties, etc 1775 - 1966/7
  • Destined voyage 1764 - 1873/4

Numerous appendices have been published ion Lloyd's registers, including much useful statistical information, specialised lists of vessels and details of shipowners and shipbuilders.  Amongst the most useful are the lists of changes of name (1876/7 onwards) and indexes to compound names (1890/1 onwards), and the lists of shipowners and their fleets (1876/7 onwards) and shipbuilders and their existing vessels (1890/1 onwards).  Also included for various dates are lists of Royal Navy vessels, East India Co. ships, steam vessels and ships built of iron, refrigerated vessels and tankers.


Does not include foreign vessels before the 1890s or those not surveyed by Lloyd's.  This is counterbalanced by the Lloyd's List (see below) which include details of all shipping movements reported to Lloyd's agents and movements of those vessels not included in Lloyd's Register.

Lloyd's List

Scope for research

Lloyd's List , 1741-1974, originally a weekly, then a twice weekly newspaper until 1837 when it was published daily, Monday to Saturday.  It is used primarily for a source of information on shipping movements arranged "geographically" by port, beginning with Gravesend (ie London) and then proceeding clockwise around the British Isles and similarly around the rest of the world.  Under each heading arrivals and sailings are listed in chronological order, giving details such as vessel's name, master's name, date and port from which she has sailed.  Casualties and "speakings" (ie communication between ships at sea) are also given.  Until the introduction of telegraphic communication casualty reports were usually brief and vague in content and it was not until the 1880s that the reporting became more detailed and quicker in response, often including the reports of agents verbatim.  These often include details of cargoes and lives lost, and salvage attempts made immediately after the loss of a vessel.


The sheer quantity of information contained in the lists can provide the searcher with a daunting task when trying to trace the movements of particular vessels.  They are, however, made more manageable by the use of Lloyd's List Indexes .  These are annual indexes available on microfilm which, for the years 1838-1927, provide reports of arrivals, sailings, speakings and casualties arranged alphabetically by name of vessel.  Masters' names are given to distinguish vessels of the same name.  Reading the microfilm can, however, be a problem since the originals were manuscript copies which, in some cases, appear illegible.  The abbreviations used can also be something of a headache for researchers unfamiliar with port names, as well as struggling with the 19century hand and faintness of ink.

Other Lloyd's marine publications

  • Lloyd's Register of Yachts, 1878-1976, is complementary to Lloyd's Register and is similarly arranged with details of yachts of all nationalities, except for those covered in the Lloyd's Register of American Yachts (1929-1942, 1947-1977, not available at the Maritime Archives & Library).
  • Lloyd's Shipping Indexes, useful summary of information contained in the lists, alphabetically listed by ship name in two sections, sail and steam, available under various titles from 1880-1965, including Lloyd's Weekly Casualty Reports, 1920-1980.
  • Lloyd's Voyage Supplements, 1946-1973, list the movements of ocean-going vessels on their current voyages, giving dates of arrival and sailing at all ports visited.
  • Lloyd's Captain's Registers contain details of service as captain or mate of holders of British master's certificates between the years 1869 and 1948.  The Maritime Archives & Library, Merseyside Maritime Museum, holds a photocopy of the 1869 volume and microfilms of the 1874-1887 volumes.  Each entry includes the name, place and year of birth of the subject, together with place and year of examination, and number of his certificate.  His service record also includes the name and official number of each vessel on which he served as either master or mate, together with dates of service.

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