Titanic captain is one of a million historic Liverpool sailors on newly digitised crew lists

Family History
9 December 2014
by

Titanic

We are all familiar with the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. On the night of the 14th of April 1912, 1,500 people lost their lives after the liner hit an iceberg and sank to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The captain on that tragic voyage was Edward Smith. Smith joined the White Star Line shipping company in 1880 and quickly became one of its most respected captains. He was regularly trusted to guide the largest new vessels in the fleet.

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Edward Smith can be found in The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection on Ancestry. The collection features the names of crew members who worked on vessels registered to the Port of Liverpool. In the crew lists, Edward Smith is mentioned in 1901 as captain of the SS Majestic, when he and his crew were called upon to transport troops to Cape Colony to fight in the Boer War. Following this, he was awarded a special Transport Medal for his service.

However warning signs of the later tragedy soon surfaced. In 1911, Smith was captaining the RMS Olympic when he collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. The vessel had to be returned to port with a badly damaged propeller.

The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection has been published from original records held by the Liverpool Record Office. The records were a form of employment contract between the shipping company and crew, and needed to be completed before any vessel set sail. The collection, which refers to a total of 912 ships and spans nearly 50 years, lists each crew member’s name, age, birthplace, residence and past maritime experience, and even remarks on their general behaviour. There are also details regarding whether crew members were discharges, deserted or died at sea.

The history of Liverpool is intrinsically linked to the development of its port throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, with its natural harbour helping the city become a powerhouse of the industrial revolution and a key transport hub for travel to the promising shores of America and Australia. The port also contributed greatly to the diversity found within the city, with Liverpool rapidly developing a uniquely Irish character. Around 300,000 migrants arrived in the city from Ireland in 1847 alone and within five years a quarter of the city’s population were Irish-born.

Miriam Silverman, Senior UK Content Manager from Ancestry comments, “From ship captains to their crew, this collection sheds light on a period in which the port of Liverpool was a global transport hub. With more than a million maritime records now available online at Ancestry, it will also be of huge significance for anybody looking to trace their seafaring ancestors back to Liverpool at this time.”

Search The Liverpool, England, Crew Lists 1861-1919 collection today and find your seafaring ancestors on Ancestry.