St Catherines Articles

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What does it contain?

Trafalgar Ancestors lists all those who fought in Nelson's fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. This includes Royal Navy commissioned and warrant officers, ratings, supernumeraries and Royal Marines. Collectively these individuals were born in a surprisingly wide range of continents and countries, for example, Africa, America, West Indies, India, and most countries in Europe. Moreover, Trafalgar Ancestors, contains reference to Jane Townshend - the only woman positively identified as having served at Trafalgar.

Trafalgar Ancestors is an ongoing project which over time aims to provide genealogical and service details about these individuals from a range of published sources and documents, but in particular the Admiralty records held by The National Archives. The overall aim is to eventually revise, extend and bring up to date Mackenzie's Trafalgar Roll.

In 1805, the Royal Navy employed around 110,000 individuals. So, if your ancestor served in the Royal Navy in 1805, there is roughly a one in six chance that they served in the Battle of Trafalgar. Trafalgar Ancestors can be searched by surname, but also using its advanced search facility, by first name; age on 21 October 1805; birthplace; ship's name; rating and rank.

What sources is it based on?

Ships' musters

The key records that we hold which underpin Trafalgar Ancestors are ships' musters drawn mainly from the ADM 36 and ADM 37 series, which cover 1688 to 1842. These musters, in effect pay records, list the names of all the crew serving on board a ship at a particular time. For the ship's crew (but not usually for officers and Royal Marines) musters provide individual's place of birth and their age when joining the ship. They can also indicate from which ship a person joined and what ship they were discharged to. We hold such records for all the 33 ships that made up Nelson's fleet at Trafalgar.

Ship's musters are the key source for piecing together the careers of men that served in the Royal Navy in this period of time given that it only began to systematically keep service records for every officer and rating from the mid nineteenth century onwards.

It is straight forward to find out whether the National Archive hold a ship's muster - or indeed ship's logs if they are also of interest.

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