Thursday, 5 August 2010

Hello Sailor!

Hello, for my first blog, I thought I’d share with you this little snippet of the past which I found recently. It is the notice of a marriage in the Deerness Old Parish Register (OPR) which we have here on microfilm.

It transcribes as “ Mr William Heudell, Commander of the ship Three Brethren of Liverpool and Margaret Loutit were married the 4th Day of September 1796”

The reason I find it so interesting is that it highlights one of the many connections which Orkney has always had with the outside world.

One of my favourite Orkney archives is CE55/4/6 which is a Register of Crews Engaged in Orkney from 1851-1910. This very large volume gives names of sailors, their present ship’s name, port of registry, intended voyage and their last ship name and port of registry. From 1871 it also gives the area where they were born together with the date and place where they were last discharged. Some of the other places where the crews came from last were London, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Hull, Banff, Leith and also Londonderry and Mary Port.

For example Charles Cooper, age 32 from Orkney was hired in September 1873 to work as a B’swain on the Galatea, a ship registered in Kirkwall. The intended voyage note said, “Orkney to the Baltic and back to U.K. In the event of the ship being froze up, crew to be discharged and sent home.” Brrr. One of the other sailors hired on the same ship was John Planck, age 23, originally from Edinburgh.

Some of the other intended voyages were to the Davis Straits, Quebec, Konigsberg, Hudson Bay, Greenland and Adelaide in Australia. So if you’ve lost an ancestor and you know he was a sailor from a British port, he may have found his way to Orkney and be recorded in our book, but be warned, this could take time as there is no surname index!

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