War of 1812: Privateers

On the 18th June 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain
the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the conflict was signed on 24th December 1814.

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This page is to accompany the Radio 4 Making History of 15 May 2012



Looking for an ancestor who may have served on a privateer/Letter of marque vessel?


1. Check if he appears in the Declarations“google” his name on the front page

I’ve split the Declarations files into two PDF files owners of vessels and Crew.


2. If you found him, then look to see the Masters name, the link there leads to the image of the Declaration. If the vessel’s name is a link then there will be more information, usually from Lloyd’s List.


3. Perhaps he was taken prisoner?

There is a photographed list of British/Canadian pows – however this is by first letter of Surname only check the sample image.

Again the files are in PDF format for ease of viewing and the ability to increase the image size.

I’m working on an index, which I hope to be finished by the 18 th of June the date of the bi-centennial. Amongst other things it will allow all those from a particular vessel or military unit to be grouped together


4. Whilst the above covers the War of 1812 the period 1793-1815 generated over 4000 letters of marque against the French.

Here though we only have the Register which gives the name of the vessel and the master not the crew or owners but that can still be sufficient to trace them through Lloyd’s List.

The Guildhall Library have created an index to the Marine News in Lloyd's List and to supplement this I’ve scanned the relevant pages- these can be found from the drop-down lists. There is also a list for the War of 1812.


One source I didn’t have a chance to mention is ADM 26 and it might be the answer to one of the most difficult problems when searching for a sailor in the time of Nelson.


I know he was in the navy but not the ship?


Whilst officers are very easy to trace, the common sailor isn’t, to have any hope you must have the name of a ship he served on.

Once you have this vital fact you can check the muster roll for the ship, find him, and from there trace his career from ship to ship as he is transferred.


This is where ADM 26 is invaluable as it records payments made by sailors to relatives – not only does it name the relative but it gives the relationship Father Mother Wife etc but the address the person as well.


I photographed several volumes and transcribed some 9000 names it’s certainly worth a look. The volumes themselves are huge and had to be photographed in two halves, then the separate photographs joined.


As with all of the above any problems or questions let me know and I’ll do my best to answer as speedily as I can.