A Discharge Certificate from 1892. Before the Discharge Book was introduced in 1901 seamen used to be given a loose certificate each time they signed off. It was an ungainly document, measuring 7.75 inches by 6. They were supposed to be produced when signing on for a new voyage but they were frequently lost and an entry 'NP' ('Not Produced') was made alongside their rank on the new articles. Click here for an example.

I found this certificate interesting because it was made out for a Stowaway. He subsequently worked, and was paid, as an ordinary seaman, and he completed the voyage. Another three stowaways were found on the ship after she left Liverpool. Two of them jumped ship in New Orleans but the other also completed the voyage. One way of getting a foot in the profession at a time when trade, and therefore employment opportunities, were declining, I suppose.

There is an error in the date of engagement. It should read 6/12/91. A common enough mistake at the turn of the year. It demonstrates that written records can often be wrong.

Discharge cert

Eddie Barbour sent me this picture of a Certificate of Discharge issued to his Grandfather in 1913 by the Port Officer in Singapore. It's almost identical to the 1892 version so it appears that the overseas offices continued to use them long after discharge books had been isued at home.

Singapore certificate

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