Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen, Returns of Births and Deaths, Crew.

The Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen (RGSS) maintained records of births and deaths among the crews of British-registered merchant vessels. The Return of Births and Deaths (B&D1 form) had to be completed by the ship's master and delivered to a Marine Superintendent, or a British consular, dominion or colonial officer at the earliest opportunity. These forms usually replicate the information entered into the official logbook for the relevant voyage, but in some cases they provide additional details of the circumstances of the event and can include reports from medical staff, police, etc. The forms were retained by the RGSS, arranged chronologically by date and then alphabetically by vessel name. Wartime events involving significant loss of life are not covered by these records, but deaths relating to enemy attacks on fishing boats and other small vessels are sometimes included. Deaths of merchant seafarers held as prisoners of war also feature.

While there are no restrictions on access to these records of the deaths of merchant seaman, readers are reminded that they do sometimes contain information which some readers may find distressing. For further information, please contact

Record Details

Item reference: RSS/B
Catalogue Section: Public records: records of the central administration of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy
Date made: 1914-1964
Credit: © Crown copyright. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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