How can I dis­cover what hap­pened to my mer­chant sea­man an­ces­tor?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A -

QMy great grand­fa­ther Jo­han Martin Larrson, a mer­chant sea­man, was born in Swe­den in 1859. He mar­ried my great grand­mother Mary Jack­son on 12 Au­gust 1889 at the Parish Church of New­ing­ton in the county of York. He was 30 and my great grand­mother was 19.

Thomas Martin Lar­son, my grand­fa­ther,g was born on 3 Novem­ber 1890 in My­ton, KingstonK Upon Hull. His fa­ther’sf name was given as JohnJ Martin Lars­son and oc­cu­pa­tiono as mer­chant sea­man.s From that date, Jo­han dis­ap­pears.d Mary re­mar­ried ono 11 July 1910 at St John’s Church,C New Clee, Lin­colnshire.L She was listed as a spin­ster. How can I find out whatw hap­pened to Jo­han?

Mar­i­lynM Stand­fast, by email

AThe big­gest prob­lem there is about trac­ing 19th-cen­tury mer­chant sea­men is that from 18561 no records were kept of in­di­vid­u­alsi so they must be traced throught other sources. One of the largestl and most com­pre­hen­sive sourcess is the col­lec­tion of Crew ListsL and Agree­ments, which pre­sentp their own prob­lems.

Firstly, the col­lec­tion is not heldh to­gether and the lists are spreads around 50+ in­sti­tu­tions in thet UK and New­found­land. Thank­fully,T a lot of work has been doned on the Crew Lists by CLIP (Crew List In­dex Project), the Mar­itime His­tory Ar­chive, The Na­tional Mar­itime Mu­seum and TNA. I started with a search of the 1881 data­base avail­able from the Mar­itime His­tory Ar­chive at www.mun.ca/mha/1881/ crews1881.php,

which cur­rently lists more than 216,800 names of sea­men who went to sea in 1881.

The Crew List shows age and place of birth so the ma­jor­ity of the Lar­sons listed could be dis­counted as most of them were Nor­we­gian and one Canadian. How­ever, there is a John Lar­son serv­ing on the Camilla (of­fi­cial num­ber 54730) who was born in Stock­holm, Swe­den, and who gave his age as 26 – while this is about four years out, it’s not un­com­mon in Mer­chant Navy records. In­ter­est­ingly, although his name is listed as Lar­son, his sig­na­ture is Lars­son. His pre­vi­ous ship is given as ‘same’ ( The Camilla) so it would be nec­es­sary to work back through Crew Lists un­til you could pos­i­tively iden­tify him. Some­times a home ad­dress or other per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is given. As­sum­ing like many mariners he died at sea, I also checked the Deaths at Sea on Find­my­past and there is only one death of a John Lars­son that fits be­tween 1890 and 1910 and that oc­curs in Novem­ber 1900. It might be worth check­ing the Bri­tish News­pa­per Ar­chive at british­news­pa­per­ar­chive.co.uk

or find­my­past.co.uk. Janet Dempsey

Mer­chant sea­man Jo­han Martin Larrson’s mar­riage cer­tifi­cate and the birth cer­tifi­cate of his son Thomas Martin Lar­son

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