Was your ancestor one of the many watermen who were impressed into the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars? Discover the name of the ship your ancestor served on and his dates of service. The records include 8 names of watermen who served on Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory.
The transcripts were created from two documents held at the London Metropolitan Archive: Alphabetical list of 105 members of the company killed in action in the Navy, or invalided in that service, naming their ships and Alphabetical list of Watermen in the Navy with the names of the ships on which they were serving when last heard of by their relatives. Each record will include
Ship’s guns – number of guns on the ship
Archive and reference
The transcripts were created from two nineteenth century documents held at the London Metropolitan Archive. The documents were created during the Napoleonic Wars. During this time many watermen were impressed into the Royal Navy. Alphabetical list of Watermen in the Navy with the names of the ships on which they were serving when last heard of by their relatives includes the names of 525 watermen, the names of the ships they served on and how many guns were on each vessel. Some entries include a waterman’s rank and date of arrival on the ship. Alphabetical list of 105 members of the company killed in action in the Navy, or invalided in that service, naming their ships lists the names of watermen who were discharged invalided, taken prisoner in France or killed in action.
The River Thames has always been a life force for London and transportation of people and goods along the river was vital for the city’s growth. Prior to the mid-18th century, ferries, ships and barges were the main mode of transportation along the Thames before the construction of London’s numerous bridges.
The Company of Watermen was established by Parliament in 1555 as the ‘Rulers of all Watermen and Wherrymen working between Gravesend and Windsor’. The watermen were responsible for transportation of all passengers on the River Thames. In the early years of the company, the main duty of a waterman was to take passengers up and down the Thames to stairs or steps along the riverside.
Prior to 1603, an apprenticeship to become a waterman took one year. However, in 1603, it was extended to seven years. The Company was awarded its arms in 1585 by Queen Elizabeth I. In 1700, lightermen joined the company and it became The Company of Watermen and Lightermen. The lightermen were responsible for unloading the boats and bringing them to the Port of London by a lighter, a type of flat bottom barge. The Company of Watermen and Lightermen is one of the few companies without a livery. This meant that members were not exempt from impressment. These records are evidence that many members were impressed into the Royal Navy.
Transcripts were created and reproduced on Findmypast with permission from Docklands Ancestors Ltd.