The premier resource for tracing your British and Irish ancestors
About British & Irish Passenger Lists 1890 & 1891
Abstracts of all 1890 & 1891 passenger lists from British and Irish ports with US and Canadian destinations are available on Origins.net.
About the Passenger Lists
These abstracts have been compiled by Peter Coldham directly from the original lists held at The National Archives, London, augmented by Canadian and US data. The names of 194,000 passengers are included. The original lists are often very difficult to read but we believe these abstracts are the most accurate available anywhere.
Please note also that in the case of some sailings where there were large groups of foreign passengers (ie not British or Irish), the names of all such foreign passengers are not necessarily included.
The data provided includes:
The 1890 lists cover a total of 921 sailings, from the ports all over the British Isles; the 1891 lists include 501 sailings from Irish ports. A breakdown is shown in the table below.
Destination ports are shown in the table below.
In many cases there are clearly multiple members of the same family present on the list, making these records much more valuable than simply records of individuals. When you search on a person, you can display the passenger list for that sailing, making it easy to detect family groups.
Between 1890 and 1920, a particularly high tonnage of ships left British and Irish ports bound for North America. Many passengers were emigrants from Britain, Ireland and Europe. European emigrants went via the UK because it was cheaper to sail from a British port than a European one. The shipping companies required passengers to have British residency of six weeks, but many passengers too impatient to qualify for residency changed their names to avoid detection.
About 30% of the 1890 passengers (57,000) were Irish, primarily departing from the Irish ports, but with several thousand sailing from Liverpool. There were about 100,000 English passengers and 14,000 Scots, with 24,000 "foreign". In the 1891 Irish sailings, over 99% of the 49,000 passengers listed are Irish.
The Source Records
The source records are passenger lists of people leaving the United Kingdom (and up to 1923, ports now in the Republic of Ireland) by sea, which were completed by the ship's purser and kept by the Board of Trade's Commercial and Statistical Department and its successors. They exist for the years 1890 to 1960 and are now held at The National Archives, London (class BT27). The abstracts here were augmented by Canadian records.
Peter Coldham, who started work on the present indexes prior to TNA embarking on its indexing project, Ancestors on Board, has found numerous flaws in the latter and has continued his work on 1890 sailings to include 1891 sailings from Irish ports. The Ellis Island website contains immigrant records which complement those of Ancestors on Board, but these records start only from 1892.
A summary of the areas in which Ancestors on Board (AOB) appears to fall short of complete adequacy follows:
Example of Passenger List