Canada, America & the West Indies imports and exports to the UK, 1678-1825

Naval Office Shipping Lists, 1678-1825

Naval Office Shipping Lists, 1678-1825

The lists contain detailed information about the conduct of trade and about the voyage patterns of vessels, their size, armament, manning and passage times
Walter E. MinchintoUniversity of Exeter

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See which slave-made exports passed through American and West Indian ports

These lists cover a range of ports in and near to the East Coast of the American Continent, from Nova Scotia to Suriname. Commencing with Nova Scotia, they cover New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Bermuda, Georgia, Florida, the Bahamas, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. The naval office shipping lists were compiled by the naval officers in the British colonies in North America and the West lndies and then sent periodically, usually every three months, by the Governor of the colony to the Board of Trade or the Treasury in England. Like other governmental records, they were subsequently deposited in the Public Record Office, London, where they are now to be found. The shipping lists were working documents and many factors can account for their loss and destruction. Many lists, it may be surmised, were destroyed by a fire in the Plantation Wing of the London Custom House in 1814. Other lists were probably never despatched from the colonies or were lost in transit to England, whilst in London some of them, no doubt, were mislaid, mixed up with other papers or otherwise separated from the main collection. Consequently none of the series are complete. The information the naval office lists contain includes: the date of entry or clearance, the name of the ship and the home port or colony, the details of the vessel's construction and registration (where and when built and where and when registered), the name of the master, the name of the owner(s), the tonnage, the number of guns carried, the number of crew, and the cargo carried (including slaves and indentured servants). The last port of clearance or the immediate destination is also usually given. Sometimes information about where and when bond was given is also included. Thus the lists contain detailed information about the conduct of trade. The data quality and level of detail within these lists does vary between colonies as it was highly dependent on the diligence or otherwise of the administration's Naval Officer.


Canada, America & the West Indies imports and exports to the UK, 1678-1825...

Containing 22,582 pages belonging to 21 documents housed in 5 volumes...

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Nova Scotia, 1730-1820

The Nova Scotia naval office lists have been reproduced in sequence as far as possible; however, some lists have been...

North Eastern American States, 1686-1769

These lists cover four core North Eastern American states: Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Each of these states...

South Eastern American States, 1689-1769

These lists cover four core South Eastern American states: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. Each of these states had...

Jamaica, 1685-1818

These lists cover the port of Kingston in Jamaica for the years 1685 to 1818. As with the naval office...


  • These records cover Canadian ports from Main-a-dieu to Cumberland in Nova Scotia as well as Saint John in New Brunswick. While they don't include the American Revolution, they do take in the 1812 War.
  • The American records for the Eastern states cover ports from New Castle, NH to St Augustine, FL. The earliest records start in 1686 and were just handwritten lists, the latest tables of entries run until 1769.
  • The West Indian records extend from Bermuda to Jamaica, Trinidad and Suriname, including a number of colonies in-between. Each British colony would trade with different neighbours, see those trade links here.
  • As these lists developed, details of where ships were built and registered were included. By comparing these lists it is possible to see who the major shipbuilding nations were and for who, during the 18th and 19th centuries.
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