Electrical Engineer on Suevic in 1915


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Vicky Evans

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I wonder if anyone could help me in my research into an Electrical Engineer on Suevic in 1915 called Douglas Buchanan. I am also wondering about how to find the passenger list in the same year? Any ideas please?
Thanks! Vicky
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo Vicky - welcome to the board.

Crew Agreements are quite widely dispersed and can be difficult to track down, but you may be in luck in this instance - if the voyage commenced in 1915, it should be held at the National Maritime Museum's James Caird Library in Greenwich near London. Years ending in 5 are held there (other years can be found in other archival repositories - Newfoundland has a good many of them, a sample percentage are held in the National Archives - formerly PRO - in Kew, and a few are at various archives around Britain such as the Liverpool Records Office).

If you believe he may still have been serving c.1918-1919 in the merchant service, you may find Buchanan's CR10 file - these are stored alphabetically on microfiche at the National Archives in Kew, or the original documents in the Southampton Archives.

Passenger lists would be held at Liverpool. You may also find incoming and outgoing passenger lists in Australia (I note that with the exception of one trooping trip in 1915 to the Dardanelles, the Suevic remained on the Oz run during WWI). Depending on what Australian State the passenger you're interested arrived in, these can be found at State archives. In the case of NSW for a Sydney arrival, for example, they are held at the State Records Office of NSW. Try this guide on their site:

http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/cguide/sy/smo.htm#E9E4

This is for the pre-1923 period you're interested in, I should note - after that, they became a federal responsibility and the records are more centralised (although still often located in individual States).
 

Vicky Evans

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Dear Inger, I am absolutely delighted to get your very helpful reply! Thanks so much for all the trouble you have taken. My Grandmother actually gave birth to a baby in February 1915 on the passage to or from Cape Town on the Suevic. The father of the baby was the Electrical Engineer. From what I can gather my Grrandmother was not allowed to marry him. I suppose she must have got pregnant on the way out to Cape Town, and sailed home when the baby was due. The family seemed to have made several visits over the years. Baby was then fostered until a couple of years later when she was adopted. Would there be a different place to look as the records relate to South Africa rather than Australia? It is difficult to tell on the birth certificate if the ship was sailing towards England or Cape Town, I will have another close look, but the copy I have is very difficult to read. I live in Devon, but next time I go to London, will pay a visit to Greenwich.

I am also hoping to go to Kew soon to try to trace my Russian Jewish ancestors coming into London in about 1895.

There is one more relative on yet another branch of the family that went to Cape Town in about 1898, to a job as a Civil Engineer on the railway viaducts. Would I be likely to find him on a passenger list at Kew do you think?

Many thanks again for all your help. Best wishes
 

Inger Sheil

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Wow! What a great story, Vicky! Crew were not supposed to fraternise (certainly not to that degree) with passengers, but there's ample evidence that romantic interludes did take place quite frequently.

I haven't done much work with records in South Africa, so perhaps someone else could step in here and give you a hand. But from what I gather on-line, finding passenger lists is not as easy in South Africa as it is in England, Australia, America and some other countries, and you're better off doing it from the point of departure (the National Archives - formerly the PRO - in Kew will have these records...the documents in "BT 27 Passenger Lists, Outwards, 1890-1960" would be your best bet, I suspect. Your relative going outward to Cape Town should be there as well, but you're best off contacting the Archives directly to see if they can give you a hand on what to expect. Here's the archive on-line leaflet regarding passenger lists:

http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=106

Let us know what you find out about Buchanan - this sounds like a fascinating story! If you find him in the CR10 records (BT 350), the file may include a photograph of him.
 

Vicky Evans

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Thanks so much again for your reply, I can't wait to get to Kew to have a look at these records you mention!! I will have to be patient though as I will probably not make it to London till Dec/Jan time! I will certainly let you know if I make any progress! It would be wonderful if there was a photo of Buchanan in the crew list! You mentioned in your previous note that I might find some information at the National Maritime Museum's James Caird Library for years ending in a 5.Would that be the same information that I would find in Kew? Although I don't know the exact year or ship that the Russian ancestors came in on, I guess that if I had enough time, I might find them on BT26?
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo again Vicky -

The records are all very confusing when you first look into them, so I'll try to give you a clearer explanation of what I suggest you look for.

Crew Articles of Agreement aka 'Crew Lists'
For people sailing as part of the crew (e.g. Buchanan), you need Crew Agreements. Those for UK registered ships are not all located in the same archive (or even in the same country!), nor is there a central index to where they are located. You will find them roughly broken up like this:

The PRO (National Archives) in Kew holds a random sample of 10% of Crew Agreements from 1861 -1938, and 1951 - 1989 in the BT99 class. The National Archives are also the home of the BT100 class - 'Celebrated Ships' (e.g. Titanic, Lusitania, Olympic etc.)

The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (James Caird Library) holds the remaining 90 percent for 1861, 1862 and all for years ending in 5 except 1945, up to 1972. This is the one you're after for 1915. Kew does not hold any duplicates of these records. You'll need the Official Ship number for the Suevic, as this is how they are filed. They can do a look-up for you in Lloyd's, but I've got it here handy somewhere and will find it for you. I suggest you contact them beforehand and let them know what you want to see - you may also want to read up on what information you'll need to get a Reader's Card. Here's a link to some online information about contacting them:

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/site/navId/005002002

Other archives, such as the Liverpool Records Office and some County Record Offices, hold crew lists for vessels registered in ports within their area, for the years from 1863-1912.

The Registry of Shipping and Seamen holds all crew lists from 1939-1950, and those from 1990 to the present day.

The rest for the period 1863-1972 are held at the Maritime History Archive at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

BT350 class - The Fourth Register, (Central Index Register CR10) of Merchant Seamen: Sea Service Records

This was started in October 1913 and continued until 1941. The entries for 1913-1918 were destroyed, and so the register covers the actual period 1918-1940. Most cards are circa 1918-1921. Copies of the registry cards are held on microfiche within the National Archives; the original cards are held by Southampton City Archive. The records usually include a photo of the merchant seaman.

If you had time enough time, you might find your ancestor on BT26 - it would help to narrow it down as much as possible, though!

Hope this helps - I've spent many a happy hour in Kew and Greenwich, so I think you'll have a great time!
 

Inger Sheil

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You're more than welcome, Vicky - I just hope it comes to something! I'll add Buchanan to my 'watch list' as well, and if I come across him I'll let you know.
 
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