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Findmypast.co.uk has passenger lists for ships departing from the UK beginning in 1890. What about dates before 1890? Do the records exist anywhere? I'm particularly interested in departures to the US in 1855.

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As it stands this question is rather general. It is good that you have identified the time frame, the 1850s. Destination country and a bit more specific information on possible place of departure (e.g. England, Scotland, Ireland) would also narrow down the question. –  Sue Adams Nov 20 '12 at 15:36
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The FMP lists come from series BT27 at The National Archives (for the UK, at Kew). The Catalogue notes for BT27 say "Lists earlier in date than 1890 have not survived."

Other documents re emigration survive with occasional mentions of names - TNA guides on emigration and emigrant records can be found on the TNA site.

Caveats:

  • The document guides describe stuff at Kew, which is not generally on-line (not surprisingly);
  • If anyone else picks up references in this query to ships leaving the UK and gets interested, be aware that lots of voyages from 1890 on were not recorded in the BT27 ledgers. All traffic between mainland Britain and Ireland was excluded (initially this was internal to the UK) as was purely European traffic.
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Details of series BT27 at TNA are here. –  TomH Nov 18 '12 at 21:54
    
Now that I understand what BT references are, and how to look them up, I won't need to ask questions like this in the future. Thanks! –  JustinY Nov 19 '12 at 19:27
    
Are these lists mentioned departures to America or to all parts? –  William Nov 20 '12 at 7:15
    
William - working from memory, they are to all parts of the globe except "Europe". Exact definition of Europe not known to me. As I said above, Ireland is also excluded as either part of the UK or as part of Europe. –  AdrianB38 Nov 20 '12 at 16:29
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Try looking through the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild. It's not the best-organized site for exploring, but you can start here: http://immigrantships.net/departures/england.html

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Thanks. That will be a good resource to remember. It looks like the lists for voyages pre 1890 from the UK are of the arrivals, not departures. –  JustinY Nov 18 '12 at 21:53
    
You're right; sorry. –  Gene Golovchinsky Nov 19 '12 at 0:01
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As you mention the time period 1855, did your ancestors originate from Scotland? The Highlands and Islands Emmigration Scheme assisted 5000 people to emmigrate from western Scotland to Australia. The online database is at http://www.scan.org.uk/researchrtools/emigration.htm

Consider why the people emmigrated. Although passenger lists may no exist, records associated with the reason for the move may still exist eg assisted travel, criminal transportation, colonisation.

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