Kentish Men - the Maritime Past of the Isle of Thanet


The Kent port of Ramsgate is known to the sailors of today as one of England's premier yacht marinas, welcoming craft from all over the world to its sheltered harbour. Thousands of passengers pass through the port en route for ports in France and Belgium.

Cast a thought back to the mid 1800s, when Ramsgate's harbour was filled not with yachts and the new fast passenger catamarans, but with a multitude of fishing trawlers and small ships employed in the coasting trade transporting goods between the easternmost corner of Kent to ports scattered throughout the British Isles.

The Merchant Shipping Act of 1835 brought new regulations for the registration of crew and voyages. These documents are held at the Public Record Office in Kew, England under Class BT98. DataMarine has indexed the first ten years of crew lists, from 1835 to 1844. Our own records hold full details of the ships, the men, and the voyages they made. We can trace the routes taken by the trawlers as they sailed in pursuit of the fish which helped make Ramsgate one of Britain's most important fishing ports. We can follow the coasting vessels carrying goods in and out of the port.

The men who captained and crewed these vessels were often from longstanding Ramsgate seafaring families. Our records follow these men as they moved from ship to ship. We watch them as young lads on their first voyage, sometimes rising over the years to become skippers of their own vessels.

DataMarine can now offer you a chance to savour some of the records we hold. The pages which follow contain the names of the skippers or masters of the ships which sailed from 1835 -1844, not simply from the port of Ramsgate but from the other smaller ports scattered around the Isle of Thanet. The skipper or master of the vessel was required by law to deposit a list of the crew and details of the voyages he had undertaken and these are, in general, filed at six monthly intervals.

For the first time on the internet, DataMarine is now pleased to offer you a glimpse into the maritime past of the Isle of Thanet. Follow the link to the hundreds of records included in the database.

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