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Old 7th November 2017, 12:39   #1
rosieatacorns
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deceased sailor's possessions

Hello. I am a new member and I'm not sure which forum to ask.

I am hoping someone can help me find a record set, probably at the National Archives.

I believe there are records of what happened to a merchant seaman's belongings after his death at sea/abroad. I remember reading this in a book many years ago, but after 30 years research, the book has long disintegrated!

I have contacted TNA but they have told me to search the Catalogue. I have already done this but can't find the correct words to use in the search.

Can anybody suggest something please.

My seaman's records show he died in 1871 in Hong Kong. His sea chest was returned to the family in Norfolk but I would like to find further information.

Thanks if you can help.

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Chapman, Butcher, Speller, Tiley, Jeffs, Court
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Old 7th November 2017, 12:56   #2
AdamsonE60
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Re: deceased sailor's possessions

Welcome to the forum. We need a name and age to search. I have a death at sea on my tree ,and records were on FMP ,not sure if you are going to find anything more than what you have discovered. Was he Merchant or RN ?

"Consult records of overseas births, marriages and deaths in various FO and CO series.

These records are not searchable by name on our catalogue and are held in various record series. Read Tracing your Ancestors in The National Archives by Amanda Bevan (The National Archives, 2006) to obtain a record reference from a comprehensive list arranged by country.

Please be aware very few registers exist within Colonial Office records held at The National Archives. Most were retained within the former colony."

Did you look for a Will on FMP

Edit-http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/UKDeathsAtSea.html (www.mariners-l.co.uk/UKDeathsAtSea.html)

Also Ancestry has seaman records ,not deaths but their registrations.

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Stevenson,Scott,Fulton,Salvidge,Seaman,Weir,Weir,Gourley,Clacher.
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Old 8th November 2017, 09:32   #3
rosieatacorns
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Re: deceased sailor's possessions

Hello. Thanks for replying to my query

Stephen Butcher Chapman, alias John Mays, was born in Snettisham, Norfolk in 1839 and was my grandfathers uncle. He joined the merchant navy.

I have his seaman's records, including some certificates as "Only Mate" etc. (Under both his names - same date and place of birth, same exams passed, same address!) I have his service record (which gives the Alias as well), with a list of ships and a date of death 3 September 1871 in Hong Kong. His sea chest was returned to his half sister afterwards.(I have a photo of it) I believe it is quite difficult/expensive to find records of deaths in Hong Kong!

Unfortunately the last of the ships on the list is hard to read, but he had sailed recently on the "Mexicana" a ship that was lost in a Typhoon in September 1871 in Hong Kong. (If this had been the ship he was on, I am assuming there would be no trace of a sea chest to return) I have searched "Deaths at Sea" but he is not listed for that year.

I have written a book about this branch of my family (which I shared with others researching) and had moved on to another branch.

However, I have just discovered (while looking for something else!) that Stephen married in Sunderland, six years before his death, and had three children one of whom probably never met him. I am wondering if his family in Norfolk knew about this family, and whether they had not been added to his record. Would his family have missed out on a pension? My interest in this branch has resurfaced!!

I have looked at all records in FindmyPast and Ancestry and elsewhere, but nothing that will help. I remembered the record set I had read about - listing deceased sailor's belongings and who got them but I can't find the right search terms. National Archives haven't helped much - which is very unusual!

I think you are correct - I will have to find a copy of the book I found it in, or the National Archives book you mention - and see if I can find the "proper name" for this record set.

Thanks for your suggestions, will look into them all.

Rosie

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Old 8th November 2017, 15:32   #4
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Re: deceased sailor's possessions

If he was on a British Merchant ship ,his death should be on FMP. My "at sea" death was at the Panama Canal c1966 and FMP had it, a lot later than yours granted.

Ellie

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Old 9th November 2017, 07:53   #5
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Re: deceased sailor's possessions

Hi. Thanks for your reply.

I did search FindmyPast Deaths at Sea with no result for Stephen or his alias John Mays. So either the record of his death record was never forwarded to England or he died on shore. it would be nice to know cause of death but at least I have the date and place.

The information I most want to find is what happened to his possessions? I know his half sister got his sea chest - I just wanted to try to figure out if his wife got anything and if his parents, and the rest of his family, actually knew he was married.

I know it's just background information but it's the really interesting stuff that's worth finding, other than just B,M,Ds

Thanks again

Rosemary

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Old 13th November 2017, 10:58   #6
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Smile Re: deceased sailor's possessions

Since posting my query here, the national archives came back to me for a second time with the reference number of the record set to consult . I am repeating it here in case it is of help to others
'Registers of wages and effects of deceased seamen are in BT 153 and can be cconsulted at The National Archives or on Findmypast'. (I had been looking for’ belongings’, and ‘possessions’)

I carried out a search on Findmypast, found the record for Stephen (as S.B.Chapman) and discovered that Stephen Butcher Chapman HAD been on the ship Mexicana (which I had discovered had foundered in a Force 12 typhoon on its way to Hong Kong with all dead except one man.)

Stephen had been lost at sea and I discovered the amount of wages owing to him. It also said that his effects were lost. However I know his sea chest was returned to the family – so perhaps it was found at a later date.
Thank you all for your suggestions. I hope this information helps somebody.
NOTE TO SELF: Perhaps a thesaurus is a handy item to have when you are searching for a record set! :-)

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