First published in 1869, the Registers list captains and mates of merchant ships who received master's certificates between 1851 and 1948.

The Registers are held on microfilm reels as follows:

  • 1851–1869 - reel 1 (masters still active in 1869)
  • 1869–1911 - reels 1-26
  • 1911–1948 - reels 27-34 (masters still active in 1948)
  • 1911–1948 - reels 35-54 (masters dead or retired during the period)
  • 1911–1948 - reels 55-60 (mates holding a master's certificate)


These were the first and only published issues of Lloyd's Captains' Register (subsequent issues were in manuscript). It lists active master mariners alphabetically by name, including those who held a master's certificate but did not command a ship. As Lloyd's was chiefly interested in foreign-trade merchant ships, few home-trade masters (in charge of coasters, ferries, fishing vessels or yachts) are listed.

Masters had to be still active in 1869 to be listed, but details were included of their service as master or mate since obtaining their master's certificate (or since 1851 if the certificate was earlier).


Each set of volumes, recorded in manuscript, covers five to seven years. Masters' names are listed in alphabetical order. Space was left at the foot of each page for anyone qualifying after the start of the seven-year period and extra folios were inserted if space ran out.

The volumes became too cumbersome, so this system was discontinued from 1911. Volumes' size and colour-coding has made microfilming technically difficult. Basic details - name, date and place of birth and certificate details - are usually legible.

If remaining data is too hard to read, consult the original volumes in the Guildhall Library.


New loose-leaf volumes were used from 1911 until the Registers ceased in 1948. Unlike earlier Registers, details of newly-qualified masters were kept on cards and only added when they obtained their first command. Masters holding pre-1911 certificates, but still active, had their entries typed up from former volumes and added to the new series. Those who died or retired had entries extracted and put in a separate sequence.

There are, therefore, two series for this period. The first, shorter series (Guildhall Library manuscript number 18568) shows masters active in 1948. The second (GL manuscript number 18569) details those who died or retired between 1911 and 1948. Both series have accompanying card-files of qualified masters who did not, as far as Lloyd's knew, become captains, though their service as mates is recorded.

Applications for examinations and certificates

The National Maritime Museum holds all surviving applications for master's examinations and certificates of competency and service, under the Board of Trade certification system set up in 1845. Each application gives details of a mariner's earlier career and should be traceable for everyone in the Registers who qualified before 1927.

Please note that the applications are filed in certificate number order with certificates, and not indexed. To view this material, please contact the Manuscripts Department in advance.

Certificate numbers for masters not listed in the Registers and other certificated mates and engineers, are in The National Archives.

Next steps

Other guides in the series which may be useful for using Lloyd's documents as a research tool are:

Research guide H1: Lloyd's: Lloyd's List: Brief history

Research guide H4: Lloyd's: Lloyd's List indexes

Research guide H5: Registers held at the National Maritime Museum

Research guide H6: Lloyd's Register survey reports

For general research help see:

Research guide A2: Principal records for maritime research at the National Maritime Museum

Research guide A3: Tracing family history from maritime records

Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.