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Source Information

Ancestry.com. UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data:

Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Medical Journals (ADM 101, 804 bundles and volumes). Records of Medical and Prisoner of War Departments. Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies. The National Archives. Kew, Richmond, Surrey.

About UK Royal Navy Medical Journals, 1817-1857

This database contains indexed images of medical journals from 19th-century British ships, which include names of patients and other passengers and crew aboard.

The journals in this database were kept by ships’ medical officers, who were required to keep a record of patients, treatments, and outcomes during a voyage. This collection includes 671 volumes, each from a single ship and covering a particular time period. The majority are convict ships bound for Australia or Van Diemen’s Land.

The journals list names, ages, “quality” (the patient’s rank or status aboard), diseases, duration dates, and notes on symptoms and treatment. They often include daily sick lists extracted from the journal pages as well. Researchers should not forget their female ancestors. Some convict ships sailing to Australia were designated for female convicts; other women emigrated voluntarily.

These records are valuable for family history research on several fronts. First, they list names of sick (and others who may have come to the surgeon’s attention) among passengers, convicts, and crew. These may include passengers who did not recover and so never made it to their destination. They also offer fascinating details on contemporary treatments and medical practices, as well as stories of life aboard ship, from the perils (and prevalence) of grog-related accidents to a simple chronicle of the daily routine on a 19th-century sailing vessel.

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