How to access the historical Lloyd's Register of Ships
The table below provides links to volumes of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships which are fully accessible and searchable online. The early volumes, up to 1899, were scanned in by Googlebooks and by The Internet Archive. These digitised Registers can be searched by any of the fields such as ship name, master, ship owner or place of build (some of the fields may be abbreviated such as ‘Capt’. for Captain or ‘Amer.’ for America). Please note that only the sailing vessel volumes for 1893-4 and 1896-9 have been scanned in, the steamer volumes and separate appendix for these years are not yet available online.
The Registers for 1930-1945 were digitised as part of the Plimsoll ship data project by the Southampton City Libraries and Archives Services in conjunction with Lloyd’s Register’s Heritage & Education Centre. The fields can be searched by ship name(s), year of build and gross tonnage.
The Register Book for 1764-66 is now available to view in PDF format. Vessels can be found in alphabetical order of ship name. This is the first time that pages from this original edition of the Register of Ships, 1764 have been made available online. The only surviving volume is on permanent loan to the British Library. *Please note that copyright of all images of the 1764-6 edition remains with Lloyd’s Register. Images © Lloyd’s Register Group Limited 2012
If you discover any other (full-access) digitised editions of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships that we have not listed please let us know, thank you.
History of the Lloyd’s Register of Ships
The Register, published for the years 1764-66, 1768-71 and then annually since 1775, records the details of merchant vessels of the world. Since the 1870’s Lloyd’s Register has tried to include all merchant vessels over 100 gross tonnes, which are self-propelled and sea-going, regardless of classification. Before this time only those vessels classed by Lloyd’s Register were listed.
Registers published after 1876, contain the ‘List of Ship Owners’ and those published after 1886 contain the list of ‘Late Names of Ships’, which is very useful if you only know the previous name of the vessel. A vessel will remain in the Register until something happens to her; for example if she is sunk, wrecked, broken up, hulked, etc.
Vessels are listed alphabetically by their current name. There is no general index to the Lloyd’s Register of Ships, so it is helpful to know an approximate date of build or service of a vessel to make a search. Most Registers have a key at the beginning, for further help researching the early Registers see infosheet no.34.
The Lloyd’s Register of Ships is not an official record of the registration of ships. Registration, which today is a requirement of International Maritime Law, is the responsibility of national registration authorities. The official British registration authority is the Registry of Shipping & Seamen in Cardiff, see infosheet no.2. More details on the content of the Register of Ships can be found on infosheet no.10
Researchers requiring access to later editions of the Lloyd's Register of Ships can visit the Heritage & Education Centre reference library in London or use our paid historical research service. Copies of the Register Book are also kept by several libraries and museums in the UK and Ireland and overseas.
For additional information on further research please see our full range of information sheets or our FAQs section.
Follow us on Twitter @LR_InfoCentre