In many ways, the eighteenth century is the hardest time period for
which to find passenger lists. The seventeenth century has been well
researched, and the cachet of being a Mayflower passenger has
added to the allure to finding this sort of information for that time
period. The nineteenth century provides an explosion of such lists,
which survive. Stuck in between, the 1700s is neither popular for
research nor replete with records.
Certainly in the seventeenth
century, tens of thousands of immigrants came to the U.S. Those numbers
increased to hundreds of thousands by the eighteenth century, and grew
to millions in the nineteenth century. So the sheer volume of numbers of
immigrants in comparison with the previous century is daunting. The
historical context of the century is also the most complex of these
three time periods. America was first a colony, and then a war zone
before it achieved independence. The interruptions of two major wars
from 1756 to 1763 and 1775 to 1783 certainly slowed down emigration. In
1819, Congress passed legislation requiring customs officers in each
port to maintain passenger lists. There are exceptions to this rule as
in the case of Pennsylvania, where lists of German immigrants survive
because they had to take a loyalty oath starting in 1727. Unfortunately,
most of the immigrants to New England were coming from other parts of
the British Empire and didn’t need to take such an oath.
there are two things to consider: are you truly looking for the name of
the ship that your ancestor came on or are you looking for clues that
will help you discover his or her European origins? If your search is
the former, the going will be tough if not impossible. However, if your
goal is the latter, then there are several substitutes for passenger
lists that will help in your research.
First, don’t reinvent the
wheel. Consult Harold Lancour’s Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists
1538-1825. Use the third edition, expanded and revised by Richard J.
Wolfe (New York, 1963, NEHGS call # Z7164/I3/L2/1963 also LOAN).
Lancour’s work is divided into all ports, and then by state. There is an
index to ship names at the back. Be sure to read the appendices to this
work as well: Appendix I: Published Lists of Ship Passengers and
Immigrants After 1825 and Appendix II: Passenger Arrival Records in the
National Archives. A companion to this work is Ship Passenger Lists
National and New England 1600-1825, edited by Carl Boyer, 3rd
(the publisher, Newhall, CA 1977, NEHGS call # R.Rm. REF CS68/S53/1977
also LOAN). This work covers Lancour’s entries one to seventy-one with
the actual lists and is indexed by name.
A second and larger work
is Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, edited by P. William
Filby and Mary K. Meyer (Detroit, Gale Research, 1981, NEHGS call # REF
CS68/P363/1981 also LOAN), which list emigrants alphabetically by name.
There are 480,000 names culled from 300 sources. This includes the name
of the immigrant, age, place of arrival, year of arrival, and the code
number to the source whence the information came. This merely indexes
secondary sources, which vary widely in their accuracy and scholarship.
The 1982-5 cumulated supplements add 650,000 more records (published
1985) in four volumes, and a 1986 supplement adds another 125,000
records (published 1986) in a single volume.
Other works that
include both seventeenth- and eighteenth-century passengers are:
Passengers to America by Peter Wilson Coldham (Genealogical
Publishing Co., 1983, NEHGS call # CS61/C62/1983), nine volumes in
three. Vol. I - History of Transportation, 1615-1775Vol. II -
Middlesex, 1617-1775Vol. III - London, 1656-1775Vol. IV- Home
counties, 1655-1775Vols. V through IX, Western, Oxford, Norfolk,
Northern and Midland Circuits, 1663-1775 Emigrants are listed
alphabetically by name under each jurisdiction, but unfortunately, there
is no overall name index. This set is augmented by The Complete Book
of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775, by Peter Wilson Coldham
(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988, NEHGS call # REF E187.5/C65/1988
also LOAN). The first work, Bonded Passengers, uses assize and
palatinate courts records whereas the second work uses the courts of
quarter session. However, this volume is completely alphabetical by
name. It is supplemented twice: Supplement to the Complete Book of
Emigrants in Bondage (1992, NEHGS call # E187.5/C65/1988/Suppl. also
LOAN) and More Emigrants in Bondage (2002, NEHGS call # REF
E187.5/C65/1988/Suppl.2 also LOAN).
Scots in New England,
1623-1873, by David Dobson (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002, NEHGS
call # F15/S3/D63/2002 also LOAN). Records are gleaned from primary and
secondary sources, most interestingly from the Scots Charitable Society
in Boston, which was founded in 1657. Arranged alphabetically by name.
English Adventurers and Emigrants, 1661-1733: Abstracts of
Examinations in the High Court of Admiralty with Reference to Colonial
America by Peter Wilson Coldham (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985,
NEHGS call # E187.5/C682/1984/v.2 also LOAN) and its sequel, More
English Adventurers, 1625-1777 (2002, NEHGS call # E187.5/C683/2002
also LOAN) feature High Court of Admiralty records to substitute for
Ships from Ireland to Early America,
1623-1850, by David Dobson (Clearfield Publishing, 1999, NEHGS call #
E49.2/I6/D67/1999), lists just ships and the number of passengers that
they held. Sources for this information are given and the author advises
that if you know about when and where your Irish ancestor arrived, then
this work will be helpful.
There are a few specific lists for
just the eighteenth century, such as Port Arrivals and Immigrants to
the City of Boston, 1715-6 and 1762-9, compiled by William H.
Whitmore (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1973 [repr.], NEHGS
call # REF F73.25/P67/1900 also LOAN). This is reprinted from volume 29
of the Boston Record Commissioners’ Reports, Document Number 100.
This is again only indexed by surname. The 1715-16 records are on pages
5 to 19 and the others from pages 20 to 92. It is the later records
that seem to have passengers’ names.
Emigrants from England to
the American Colonies, 1773-6, by Peter Wilson Coldham
(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988, NEHGS call # REF E184/B7/C64/1988),
is a transcription of immigrants leaving England. First transcribed in TheNew England Historical and Genealogical Register, volumes 62 to
65 (1908-1911), this work is arranged in alphabetical order by ports of
departure and fully indexed by name.
Another work is Ethel
Stanwood Bolton’s Immigrants to New England, 1700-1775, (Salem,
Mass., The Essex Institute, 1931, NEHGS call # REF F7/B74/1931 also
LOAN). The Genealogical Publishing Company reprinted this 235-page
resource in 1979. Listed alphabetically by surname, each entry
identifies the source of the information contained in it. An index of
women appears at the end and there is sadly no introduction or preface.
This type of work is less a collection of passenger ship lists than a
conglomeration of sources that show emigrants when they first appear in
New England. Another such work is “The Petition to Governor Shute in
1718,” which appears in Charles Knowles Bolton’s, Scotch Irish
Pioneers in Ulster and America, on pages 324-330. (This list also
appears in Early Settlers of Londonderry, NH, p. 262-4.) Although
ships are not mentioned, the place in Ireland whence these immigrants
came is mentioned, making this list a very important source of
Emigrants from Ireland to America,
1735-1743: A transcription of the Report of the Irish House of Commons
into Enforced Emigration to America, by Frances McDonnell
(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992, NEHGS call # E184/I6/E45/1992) lists
over 2,000 people with a full index by name at the end.
one needn’t rely solely upon the research of others. The National
Archives at Waltham have the original records of the U.S. Customs
Service (see their website).
Record Group 36 includes the following records:
1789Bridgeport, Connecticut New London-Stonington,
ConnecticutGloucester, MassachusettsSalem, MassachusettsMarblehead,
Starting in 1795Middletown-Hartford,
Starting in 1763New Haven, Connecticut
Starting in 1790Newport, Rhode IslandProvidence,
Rhode IslandStarting in 1793Plymouth, MassachusettsAlthough
regulations for passenger lists did not begin until 1820, New England
port masters kept their own records much earlier and these are the
records that survive.
Other such lists survive in manuscript
collections like this one from the NEHGS itself: Massachusetts Impost
Office, Boston Vessels Entered in the months of March, April, May and
June 1712 (MSS C 3450). I transcribed the April entries as an
example of what information can be gleaned in these records:
Sloop William & Sarah from New YorkJoseph
ThornJohn WrightDaniel Lawrence, all Planters
Sarah from LondonTwenty Nine MarinersJames Gouge, Gentleman
Brigantine Suaes??? from GlasgowJohn
AkronPatrick CheapRobert ClarkeAll tradersGeorge Seinen
(?) a youth for Education[blank] Peacock, a cordwainer
Brigantine Martha & Hannah from MontserratAlexander
Baker, mariner and his servantHaynes and Scott, of New York
April Ship Sulles (/) from SurinamJohanes Vannarbergreen, Merchant
Brigantine Hope from Fyall?William
Wilson, merchantAnd six mariners
Barque Hopewell from SurinamJohn Seylor, a Saylor
useful works include:
New World Immigrants: A consolidation of
ship passenger lists and associated data from Periodical Literature,
edited by Michael Tepper (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979, NEHGS call
# REF CS68/N48/1979 also LOAN ), Vol. 1.
America: A consolidation of ship passenger lists from the New England
Historical and Genealogical Register, edited by Michael Tepper
(Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977, NEHGS call # REF CS68/P37/1977 also
LOAN). Although the Register is searchable by name on the NEHGS
website it is not yet searchable by subject. (A print subject index is
available for the first fifty volumes.)
Immigrants to the
Middle Colonies: A Consolidation of Ship Passenger Lists and Associated
Data from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, edited
by Michael Tepper (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978, NEHGS call # REF
F106/I47/1978 also LOAN). Fully indexed by name.
Passenger Arrival Records, by Michael Tepper (Genealogical
Publishing Co., 1988, NEHGS call # CS68/T49/1988).
in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor’s Arrival Record,
rev. ed. by John P. Colletta (Salt Lake City, Ancestry, 1993, NEHGS
call # CS49/C63/1993 also LOAN [rev. version only, 2002]).
Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, rev. ed., by Loretto
Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City, Ancestry,
1997, NEHGS call # R.Rm. REF CS49/S65/1997 also LOAN). Chapter 13:
Immigration: Finding Immigrant Origins, p. 441-520.
Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records, by Kory L.
Meyerink (Salt Lake City, Ancestry, 1998, NEHGS call # R.Rm. REF
CS9/P75/1998 also LOAN), specifically Chapter 14: Immigration Sources
A Researcher’s Guide to Boston, by Ann S.
Lainhart (Boston, NEHGS, 2003, NEHGS call # R.Rm. REF F73.25/L35/2003
also LOAN), Chapter 16, Passenger Lists, pp. 65-6. Most lists that
survive date from 1848.
American Maritime Documents 1776-1860,
by Douglas L. Stein (Mystic Seaport Museum, 1992, NEHGS call # REF
Z692/M28/S73/1992). Good background reading for the researcher.
Cyndi’s List is still the best place on the
Internet to start any sort of genealogical research.http://www.CyndisList.com/ships.htmPassenger Lists on the InternetLists are not in any
specific order so use the find command or just scroll down the list.http://members.aol.com/rprost/passenger.htmlShips to Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia from 1750-2.http://www.rootsweb.com/~canns/lunenburg/shiplists.htmlShips to Nova Scotia from 1750 to 1862http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Meadows/8429/index.html.