How to use Customs registers
Reading a Customs register
Customs registers will give almost all the information
that is available about a ship, but there are limitations. These
documents are the major source of data for publications such
as Mercantile Navy List [definition]
and for British ships in Lloyd`s Register of Ships
Form No. 19, as used from 1890, is the first and most important
page of the registration documents. Bound with these will be other
sheets showing changes of name, tonnages, owner or manager and data
on any mortgages taken out on the ship.
Official number: a unique identifier for a
Ship`s name, any previous names, with
subsequent changes marked.
Port of registry [definition],
date of registration and port number. These numbers were
allocated in sequence each year and provide another way to identify
Previous registration, with port, year and port
Hull details. Where, when and by whom it was
Rig [definition], material
Details of the machinery, including type,
number of cylinders, builders of engines and boilers, dates,
horsepower [definition] and speed.
The earliest figures for horsepower were nominal (NHP), which were
calculated using a formula based on engine dimensions. Later,
horsepower was measured scientifically as brake [definition]
horsepower (BHP) and indicated [definition]
Tonnage measurements, showing calculation of
the ship`s net [definition] and gross
Master`s [definition] name.
Name, address and occupation of the owner(s) and number
of sixty-fourth shares they held. Changes of ownership or
mortgages taken out on the ship were recorded on separate
transaction sheets which were bound to the form. Another form also
gave a summary of ownership.
Place and date of registration.
Details of when and why the registry was closed are written on