Records of Aberdeen Trawlers

Scope and Content

This deposit comprises a sample of crew lists and agreements registered at Aberdeen in the period 1891 - 1913. Although the records were sampled prior to deposit, it is believed that one or more record exists for each vessel registered at the port between these years. Details of the sampling methodology employed are given in Appraisal, below.

The records will be of value to researchers with a general interest in the history of sea-trade and fishing in the north east of Scotland. They will be particularly relevant to those engaged in the study of mainland trade with Orkney and Shetland, and the development of the Aberdeen and Granton fishing fleets in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As crew lists and agreements were only required for all trawlers over 25 tons (but not for other fishing vessels such as seine-netters, ring netters, etc.) the records are unlikely to contain information about coastal fishing from many of the smaller North East ports.

There are slight variations in form, but in general the information which they contain is: name of ship, port of registration, ports of departure and destination, details of owners or managers, details of masters and details of each member of the crew (name, age, place of birth, home address, next of kin, previous ship, date and place of joining ship, capacity, date and place of leaving ship, causes of leaving ship, rate of pay, advances and allotments). In some cases there are also official ship logs, which provide a record of certain categories of incidents such as deaths, disturbances, etc. which are statutorily required to be reported to the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

Administrative / Biographical History

Crew lists and Agreements (initially 2 documents but now combined in 1) are required under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1835, and subsequent legislation. On the completion of a voyage, or, in the case of the Home Trade and fishing vessels, after a period of time, they are lodged with the Registrar of Shipping and Seamen.


The records have not been fully listed, but are available for consultation

Access Information

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University Library in 1971 by the Public Record Office.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

The records have not been fully listed, but a survey list prepared by the Public Record Office in 1970, is available upon request.

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: ) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

20 % of the original series was retained by the Public Record Office and the National Maritime Museum prior to deposit. With the remaining records, the following sampling method was employed:For vessels with 5 years service or less, the second and final years of service were extracted for deposit. For vessels with more than 5 years service, lists for the second, middle and final years of service were extracted for deposit.

Custodial History

By virtue of their origin, crew lists and agreements for ships engaged in trade from British ports were initially deposited in the Public Record Office. Their physical extent was considerable and in the 1960s a review was initiated to appraise their research value and consider options for their long-term storage. As a result of the review, 20 per cent of the original series was retained by the Public Record Office and the National Maritime Museum, with the remainder being offered to local Record Offices and other interested bodies.


No accruals expected

Related Material

Crew lists and agreements for all ports in the British Isles, dated 1857 and earlier are held by the Public Record Office. A 10 per cent sample of records created in the period 1857 - 1913 is also retained by the Public Record Office, and a further 10 per cent sample has been deposited in the National Maritime Museum.


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Geographical Names