In the 19th century the expansion of the Coal Trade in South Wales and the rise of Cardiff as the greatest coal exporting port in the world meant that large numbers of crew agreements were made at Cardiff. Many of the master mariners in these agreements were not local men. They came from various parts of the UK and the agreements include Scotsmen, Irishmen & Channel Islanders, as well as men from Devon, Somerset, Cornwall, Gloucester, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Cumberland, London & the South East of England, and from various parts of Wales. This index may therefore be useful to people researching families from much further afield than the Cardiff area. In some cases these men eventually made their homes in Cardiff, whilst others were "passing through". Many of the masters concerned came to the area with their employers eg many Channel Islanders came with the Morel Family when they moved to South Wales from the Channel Islands; Yorkshire, Durham & Northumberland men came with the Turnbull family when they opened a branch of their Whitby (Yorkshire) shipping company in Cardiff. These are just two examples that I know about from my own family research but there were many others.


The places where crew agreements are held vary. This subject is quite a complex one but a guide can be seen on this site. The PRO website also provides some explanation as does Chris & Michael Watts' book My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman or the more recent book by Chris Watts - Records of Merchant Shipping and Seamen - published by the PRO. Glamorgan Record Office at Cardiff holds 90% of the Crew Agreements for Cardiff for the years to 1913 excluding the years 1861, 1862 and those ending in 5 which are held at the National Maritime Museum or at the PRO.

With the agreement of the Archivist at Glamorgan Record Office I have transcribed their card index to the master mariners named in the crew agreements. In total there are somewhere around 2500 masters listed.

The card index is alphabetical by surname and then by Christian name or initial. I have transcribed it almost exactly as it is even though there appear to be some duplications and there are some entries where the name may have been misspelled either in the original agreement or in the transcription to the cards. To try to correct the entries without accessing the agreements themselves could lead to additional inaccuracies, and to access the originals would be too time consuming. In view of this researchers should ensure that they check for variant spellings of names and that they are alive to the possibility that the same person may appear more than once with a slightly differently spelled name eg John Allen might also appear as John Allan or John Alan.

Many of the cards only show initials not full christian names and probably the actual agreements also show only initials. Again, therefore, researchers should be aware that the same person may appear with a full christian name and separately with an initial eg John Allen might appear also as J.Allen (or with the various surname variants exampled above).


Column 1 is my ID number referring to the Record Office index card. It is only of significance where someone wishes to contact me about a specific entry.

Column 2 is the master's surname.

Column 3 is the initial or christian name(s) of the master concerned.

Column 4 shows the years covered as recorded on the index card. These dates do not necessarily mean that the master was listed in all the years concerned, but that he was active in Cardiff agreements for some of the period between those years.

Column 5 shows the number of the ship to which the agreement refers or, if the ship was unregistered, the name of the ship. Where the ship's number is given its name can be obtained from the agreement or from Lloyd's Register.

I have indexed all ships listed in Glamorgan Record Office, Cardiff, agreements, shipping registers and transactions You can see this by clicking here.

Column 6 shows, where it is quoted on the card, the place of residence of the master. In some cases two places are shown eg Plymouth/Cardiff. In such cases I assume that the master concerned was from the former place but subsequently became resident in the latter.


Those who can get to Cardiff Record Office can see the original agreement there, but it should be remembered that the agreements are kept in external storage and will need to be ordered in advance.

For details of the information to be gleaned from the agreements see my page on Crew Agreements & Log Books.

If you cannot get to the Record Office then the office has a research service which can be used to obtain details from the agreements. I can also undertake this work at my standard fee detailed on my research services page.

I hold a copy of Lloyd's Captains Register 1869 which will give further details of many of the masters listed for the period 1861 to about 1890.

Dr. Reg Davies is compiling an index to all Welsh Master Mariners, Mates and Engineers who held certificates of competency or service. For information and look-ups E-mail him at

Some of the masters listed were Channel Pilots and further information may be available on them from me or from Phil Roderick. You can go to Phil's website at or E-mail him at

Phil's booklet on Cardiff Channel Pilots can be purchased from Glamorgan Family History Society.

Glamorgan Record Office holds information on Cardiff & Barry Pilots.

Some of those listed may appear in my indexes to Cardiff & Vale of Glamorgan mariners, pilots etc extracted from the Parish Registers, but this is unlikely to apply to masters who lived in the parishes of St.Johns and St.Marys, Cardiff because my indexes only cover those parishes up to 1845. Barry, Penarth, Llandaff & Roath residents and those of the more rural parishes may be covered

Probably the easiest way to check is by putting the name concerned into the search engine on my search page. You may be lucky ! Although if it is Davies, Evans, Jones, Morgan, Williams etc then you will get a long list of results !

INDEX A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M,N,O,P & Q,R,S,T,U to Z,

Go to My Index to Cardiff Ships (Alphabetical and Numerical)

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