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Victorian Merchant Maritime Sailors

Hi everyone,
I do hope that you can help. I am writing a simple book for my children about their great, great, grandfather. His name was Edward Coleman. He was in the merchant navy (very approx between 1870-1913). Apparently he always sailed out of London. I believe one of these ship's was called the Airlie. But I am unsure of his maritime status on board any of these ships. Although I have a great deal of information on their ancestor I can not find out where he would have signed on in London's East End to be a member of a crew. Or how did he even know that a ship required a new member of the crew. I believe that he would have signed a crew agreement with the Captain of the ship. If so where would this take place? In an shipping office! At the ship! In a pub! No one seems to know the answer! The ships came into London and off loaded their cargo at the London docks. But there was a huge wall surrounding the docks. Preventing merchant sailors access to the ships or their Captains.

If anyone knows the answer I would be very grateful. Yours Neil
Hi Amanda,

Thank you very much for your reply.

Unfortunately the National Archives, Greenwich Maritime and ancestry.com all said that they do not know the answer to my question.

But all of them said that they would also be very interested to find out the facts behind this simple act of merchant maritime employment. And then added if I could let them know.

However I now believe that this piece of social history will be lost in time.

Once again thank you Ladybird. Yours Neil.