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Crew Lists and Logbooks

A Crew List (‘Agreement and Account of Crew’) shows, for individual crew members, their name, year and place of birth, capacity, previous vessel served on, date of signing on and off the vessel.

An Official Logbook may contain information on medical and disciplinary matters that relate to the crew or the passengers. Together the crew lists and logbook may contain anything from four to more than 20 pages per voyage.

The important collection relating to the City of Adelaide is the British Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman series known as the Agreement and Account of Crew and Official Logbooks for British Empire Vessels, 1863-1938, 1951-1976. Its original textual material occupies many kilometres of shelving.

As a ship could have its name and registration change over its lifetime, the records are filed under the unique Official Number as a British Empire registered ship, and the Year in which each voyage terminated in a British port.

The City of Adelaide's Official Number was 50036.

Archives Holding Crew Lists

The millions of documents that accumulated were all kept at the British Public Record Office (now known as The National Archives at Kew, London). However those for the period after 1860 became so embarrassingly large that they occupied many kilometres of shelf space. In 1971 they were dispersed to nearly fifty different regional repositories around Britain.

The National Archives retained all surviving documents prior to 1860, as well as a 10% random sample for the period 1863-1938. The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, London took the records for 1861-1862 and a further 10% sample – all the years ending in ‘5’. Each county record office in Britain was then offered the lists for its local ports of registration. Some record offices have nearly complete holdings, others have only a sample of the lists, while some offices refused the offer altogether.

The Marine History Archive of the Memorial University at St John's, Newfoundland has a special interest in preserving materials relating to the history of sea-based activities in the North Atlantic. They accepted the rest of the collection, including those remaining from record offices which only took samples, and their holdings represent about 70% of the original documents.


While this website segregates voyages to and from South Australia as separate 'voyages', under the official system, the round trip from London to Port Adelaide and return was regarded as a single 'voyage'. We hold 21 out of the 23 available crewlists for the South Australian trade.

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