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April 2008

Ahoy there shipmates!  

 Welcome to the April issue, with its distinctly nautical theme.

 This month commemorates the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the ocean liner the ‘Titanic’, with the loss of around 1500 lives. Velma Dinkley has written about the ship and the disaster, as well as looking into the life of the captain, Edward J Smith and providing a guide to tracing ancestors who were onboard.

 Alongside the articles, we take a brief look at various seafaring occupations. You will find more information and useful links in the Family Tree Forum’s Reference Library, The Wiki. 

We have seven stories from FTF members who have researched their seafaring ancestors, which make fascinating reading. We hope that these have inspired you to trace yours. 

Maritime Occupations

As an island nation, the sea has played a major part in the history of the United Kingdom. From coastal fishing to defending the shores from invasion or smugglers, launching exploratory expeditions or as part of worldwide trade and the expansion of its Empire, there...

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R.M.S. Titanic

When the ocean liner ‘Titanic’ hit an iceberg at 11.40pm on 14th April 1912 and sank in the early hours of the following morning, with the loss of around 1500 lives, it was one of  the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history, and was the catalyst for the...

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The call of the sea

Jessie Nichol was born at sea, off the coast of Greenock, Scotland, in 1850, but no-one knows why. Family stories say that the family were trawler owners on the west coast of Scotland, but if her mother was at sea when she gave birth, it is more likely that she was...

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Master Mariner

The only seafarer in my husband's family tree was a master mariner (mate), Peter Mitchell, who was born in Ratho, Midlothian, in 1833. He came from a farming family at Lochend, Kirkliston, Midlothian, and how, when or why he went to sea is still a mystery to me. He is...

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William Capps Cooper was born on December 28th in the Beach Village, Lowestoft. He was the third child of William Cooper and Elizabeth Capps. He was to be their last child because his father William was drowned in Lowestoft Docks the following year. From The Ipswich...

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Stubborn by name, stubborn by nature

My dad joined the Royal Navy in 1942, as soon as he was old enough, and trained as a telegraphist. During the latter part of the Second World War he served in submarines, firstly in the North Atlantic and then in the Pacific. Fortunately he got through the war...

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Accidental explosion

Like many other novices to family history, I had assumed that any ancestors killed in HM Forces would have been involved in a conflict. I was proved wrong when I started investigating my 2x great-uncle. WILLIAM HENRY BARRETT was born on 25th September 1854 in...

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The ordeal of Mary Bluett

My ancestors Thomas and Mary Bluett travelled to New Zealand in 1841. Thomas was a lithographic printer and produced the first charts of Wellington and Port Nicholson, as it was then known. Thomas was, however, a ‘ducker and diver’ and kept getting into business...

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Shoved it in a drawer

In 1989 my cousin died. Following the reading of his will, I was sent a list of his personal effects from which to choose two items. To be honest, there was nothing that I really wanted; the list consisted mainly of clothing, crockery, cutlery, a few small pieces of...

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