International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend

International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend

International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend is celebrated between 20 and 21 August. The event is being promoted by the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, intending to raise the profile of lighthouses, lightvessels and other navigational aids, and to promote maritime heritage. As part of the weekend, some lighthouses and places of associated interest will be open to the public, and there will be special events at lighthouses and lightvessels around the world.

At the Society of Genealogists, we are marking International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend by exploring our collection of Trinity House Petitions. Our Library holds copies of around 8,000 calendared petitions, as well as apprentice indentures. If you have an ancestor who worked as a lighthouse keeper, seaman, or river pilot, it may be worth checking whether they are recorded in our collection of Trinity House petitions (1787-1854). A digital copy can be ordered from this collection, providing you have the following index reference information: 

First and Last Names



Book and Series No.

1789 Trinity House Petition of Mary Cousins (Society of Genealogists)

Trinity House dates back over five hundred years to 20 May 1514 when a Royal Charter was presented to ‘The Master Wardens and Assistants of the Guild Fraternity or Brotherhood of the Most Glorious and Undivided Trinity and of Saint Clement in the Parish of Deptford Strond in the County of Kent’ - otherwise known as the Corporation of Trinity House. Sir Thomas Spert, Master of the Mary Rose and the Henri Grace a Dieu, became the first Master. The main Trinity House was based in Deptford, while regional outports (also Trinity Houses) were set up in Harwich, Hull, Newcastle, Leith and Dundee.

1789 Trinity House Petition of Mary Cousins (Society of Genealogists)

As John Whormby, Clerk to the Corporation, wrote in 1746, the general business of the Master, Wardens and Assistants was: improve the art and science of mariners; to examine into the qualifications, and regulate the conduct of those who take upon them the charge of conducting ships; to preserve good order, and (when desired) to compose differences in marine affairs, and, in general, to consult the conservation, good estate, wholesome government, maintenance and increase of navigation and sea-faring men; and to relieve decayed seamen and their relatives.

In order to ensure that its charitable funds were distributed fairly, each applicant was required to give full detail through his or her petition. On 27 December 1789, two days after Christmas, 25 year old Mary Cousins petitioned the Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Corporation for charitable assistance. Mary, who was living in South Shields in the County of Durham, was the widow of John Cousins. Before his death, John had served as a Seaman on board the Colly of London. Alexander Todd, Master, in whose vessel he was lost on the 31st October 1789 on a voyage to London.

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