My 3x great grandfather and his family of 5 emigrated to the US , arriving in New York on 16 July 1841 from Liverpool UK on board the Ship Splendid (or Splendid of New York). Archives image

I would like to find out other information about this ship and it's voyage, specifically:

  • When did the ship depart Liverpool?
  • What type of vessel (sail powered or steam paddlewheel / prop)?
  • what was the likely cost of passage?
  • who owned the ship?
  • how long the ship was in passenger service?

I have tried to find information from the ISTG (Immigrant ships Transcribers Guild), the National Museums of Liverpool, and of course Familysearch and Ancestry, all without much success. My search is further complicated because there were multiple ships called "Splendid", but they can be sorted by berthen.

And ideas where else to look?

  • 1
    Your question could be improved by telling us more about your research efforts instead of giving us a low-content statement about where you've searched e.g. "Familysearch and Ancestry". What did you search at FS or Ancestry and how? FamilySearch is particularly problematic because there are so many parts to it. Did you search both the FS catalog and FS Books, for instance?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


This problem is a good illustration of how we can create problems for ourselves by extracting information from records and leaving the context behind.

Scrolling back two images on the microfilm (New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891, from NARA microcopy publication M237, Roll 46) to image 174 also gives you the name of the ship's master, Charles K Crocker.

Investigating Crocker's career, perhaps with an eye toward answering the question "How long was Crocker master of the Splendid?", would lead you to source material that also answers your question about the ship. If you are searching general textual material that has been scanned by OCR, you'll get more relevant hits searching for the surname "Crocker" or with the two items in combination than you'll get by searching for the name "Splendid" alone. Searching for Crocker and the Splendid together may help with the same-name problem; you are more likely to have the right ship named Splendid if Crocker is listed as her master.

You've made a good start by breaking down the task into specific research questions:

  1. When did the ship depart Liverpool?
  2. What type of vessel (sail powered or steam paddlewheel / prop) was the Splendid?
  3. What was the likely cost of passage?
  4. Who owned the ship?
  5. How long was the ship was in passenger service?

You may be able to answer all of these questions by searching in newspapers, both in general publication newspapers and in industry-specific publications such as Lloyd's List. Advertisements for tickets can give the cost of passage; schedules in advertisements and in shipping news can give you information that will help you estimate the time of passage. Since the questions are related (knowing the type of ship will give you an estimate of her speed), seeking the answers to any of the specific questions on your list is likely to lead you to information that will help you answer the others.

You've tried searching for the Splendid at the Immigrant Ships Transcribers' Guild but have you considered exploring the site for ideas about how to search and what you can search for? ITSG has sub-pages about newspapers and about sharing information found in postcards, journals, and diaries. Have you looked for manuscript collections?

Resouces for finding newspapers, online and off:

Resources for finding manuscript collections and other items in archives:

Topic Guides, articles, online exhibits:

Related questions:

To sum up: when a direct search for a person or a ship doesn't yield any results, widen your searches. Look for finding aids and research guides; look at websites, articles, and books with information about ships, and see what sources those authors have consulted. Keep a journal of your searches, and record not just where you searched, but how you searched -- what search terms you used, what keywords, what wildcards are allowed on each site. Record negative findings as well as positive ones. Write as you go and make a record, so you can go back and repeat searches later as your search skills improve.

  • Good Leads, I'm working through them. However I have to say that I'm a bit frustrated that having gone to your links, some of the tabs and links end up with "not found" or expired. I'll keep working on it, but it may take a long time!
    – BobE
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 3:29
  • 1
    @BobE I just tested all of the links in the answer and every one of them is working. If you are having difficulty with a link, please tell the author which link so we know which one needs to be fixed. You should be aware that people all over the Internet have been reporting problems with Firefox over the past few days. Try clearing your cache if you haven't done so in a while. (If you meant some of the links on the websites themselves were dead, try plugging the URL into the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.)
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 6:00
  • I'm sorry to have put you to that trouble of checking the links you provided, but what I was referring to were the pages or links FROM the link that you provided. I've decided to narrow my search to just trying to determine when the ship splendid departed from Liverpool. I would expect that information to be most reliably reported in documents from the UK. (Newspapers in the US might have reported the departure, but probably were more focused on arrivals). Unfortuantely it seems like many of the UK sources do not report ships activities prior to 1850. I'll keep searching.
    – BobE
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 19:15
  • 1
    @BobE, no apology needed, I mis-read your comment. Try the Wayback Machine for the dead links on the destination sites, If you answer your question and one of those links is needed for your answer, include the Wayback Machine's copy in your answer. (Just on principle, though, as a community it's a good idea to fix dead links as we find them or let the authors know.) I've added a note in the answer about how researching all your questions as a group might be more effective than looking at just one.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 19:22

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