Was your ancestor a Jack Tar? Perhaps they fought in Nelson’s navy? These websites can help you find out more about their life and career, writes
It’s no exaggeration to say that the course of history during the 19th century was shaped and dominated by Britain’s navy.
From the great triumph of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, through the ‘Pax Britannica’ – a period of relative peace when Britain consolidated and expanded its empire to become the dominant global power – to the eve of the Boer War. The Royal Navy controlled most key maritime trade routes and enjoyed virtually unchallenged sea power.
For the family historian with 19th-century seafaring ancestors, there is a huge quantity of primary and secondary sources available, through official archive websites, repositories and museums. Visit a few amateur websites or forums and you will quickly find dizzying levels of expertise.