Improved index to Trinity House Petitions now available on SoG Data Online

If you have an ancestor who served in the merchant navy and was injured or killed at work, he may be mentioned in a petition to Trinity House. Many of these documents are held on microfilm at the Society of Genealogists and provide rich biographical detail about a seaman’s life. A new index now makes them fully searchable for the first time.


The Corporation of Trinity House was concerned with the distribution of charitable funds which had been entrusted to it by many benefactors, for the benefit of poor disabled seamen and their widows and orphans. They always took great care to ensure that these funds were carefully disbursed and every mariner or his dependent applying for help was required to give full particulars of his or her circumstances. These forms of application were known as 'Petitions'.


The Trinity House papers at the Society of Genealogists are divided into 3 sections:

1 Petitions: About 8,000 petitions are held by the Society. The petitioner is usually the wife or widow, but is often the seaman himself. The year of the petition, the petitioner's age, in most cases the spouse's name, and the place they are living is shown.

2 Apprenticeship Indentures:186 Apprenticeship Indentures of seamen from the periods 1780 and 1818-1845 are held. Most of the indentures have endorsements as to their enrolment and the completion of the terms. Many are also endorsed with notes of money advanced and paid.

3 Miscellaneous Papers: The "Miscellaneous Almshouse and Pension Papers" consist mainly of baptismal and marriage certificates, and relate principally to applications made in the period 1830-1880.


A full description of the records is given on SoG Data Online. The paper index was originally compiled by Anthony J Camp and has now been converted into digital form by Norma Ashworth.
Microfilm copies of the original records are held at the Society (MF 3217-3280), but if you cannot make it in to the library a copy can be ordered by our Search and Copy service.

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