My Grandfather, John Stevenson, signed off the Booth Liner Basil in Millwall on February 20th 1901, with the loose paper discharge certificate current at the time, and was then issued with this new fangled document before signing on the Kitty in Blyth on the 26th. It measures 8.75 inches by 6.5, open.

It is a fascinating family document, charting his climb to Master and showing how long he took to get his tickets and a wife.

In this first version of the Discharge Book the reports of character were shown on a separate page. By my time (1947) everything was shown on one page. It was essential to get a 'Very Good' report if the seaman wanted another job. The alternatives were 'Good', which translated as 'Awful' or 'Decline to Report' which meant 'Don't touch this man with a bargepole'. Just to emphasise the point the 'DR' stamp would usually be put on upside down.

The identity page. In the days before photographs were used the description of tattoos was an important identifier.

Identity page

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